Updated March 2023 If you live in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul…
It isn’t often that a new golf course opens in today’s world, and it’s even rarer for the course to be touched by golf royalty. But that is the case with Royal Golf Club opening in Lake Elmo for the 2018 golf season. With design work assisted by the late Arnold Palmer and LPGA legend Annika Sorenstam, the new 18-hole course is scheduled to be unveiled on May 1st (weather permitting).
The project began in 2016, when Hollis Cavner and his company, HC Golf Course Development, purchased the property that was formerly home to the Tartan Park Golf Course.
Palmer’s and Sorenstam’s Stamp of Approval
Cavner, through his association with the annual 3M Championship golf tournament at TPC of the Twin Cities, signed on Sorenstam, Palmer, and golf course architecture firms to each design nine (out of the former 27) holes into The Queen nine (front) and The King nine (back).
Sorenstam, who made the Royal Club front nine her first design project in the United States, fell in love at first sight with the 477-acre property of rolling hills and wetlands.
“It’s just very natural, very quiet out here — it’s so reserved,” Sorenstam told Minnesota Golfer magazine. “It’s hard to find those places nowadays. It’s very tranquil. I like the peace out here. It reminds me of my home in Stockholm.”
Palmer, unfortunately, passed away shortly before the Ryder Cup matches last fall, but not before putting his signature on this course, which became the last course he designed in his long and illustrious career.
“On Mr. Palmer’s final visit, he and the owner talked and decided they didn’t like how No. 12 turned out, so they made a change,” Royal Golf Club’s Director of Golf Jim Leary told Minnesota Golfer. “Our guys reshaped and re-contoured the hole so that No. 12 will be the last substantive design change that was made.”
The new 18-hole Royal Golf Club features reworked and renovated holes that represent the best of what existed in a great piece of land. The designers maintained the integrity of this bucolic landscape while adding a new, unobtrusive housing development on the far perimeter of the course.
A Rare 6-Hole Course
In addition to the 18-hole course, the architects created a short six-hole course as the centerpiece of the project. Each of the course’s short holes are about 100 yards apiece and feature a theme related to iconic golf courses (Augusta National, Pine Valley, St. Andrews, etc.). There is also a 2-3 bay indoor teaching area for year-round use, a nearby pool and fitness center, LED lighting for night golf and wired-in Bluetooth speakers for music to chip and putt by.
Something For Everyone
“The Royal Golf Club will be a wonderful course for women and kids to learn the game,” Sorenstam said. “First off, the short course will help them get introduced to the game and learn proper fundamentals. Then, the Royal course will be great because we have a lot of fair tees for beginners without forced carries, which can be intimidating.”
Sorenstam, who first walked the land while playing a Pro-Am round for the 3M Championship, believes the Royal Golf Club will have something for everyone. It blends the best of golf in this part of the country with the design characteristics from a couple legends of the game.
“I think the Royal Golf Club is a traditional Midwest course with the rolling hills, tree-lined holes, and lakes,” Sorenstam said. “I think it will present a challenging test to better golfers while being fun and fair for beginners.”
No one should miss the opportunity to encounter “royalty” at Royal Golf Club opening near Lake Elmo this spring.