The phrase “up north” has a special meaning in Minnesota. It connotes peace, relaxation, and adventure, whether you are canoeing one of the countless pristine lakes of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA), or hiking along one of the state’s exhilarating trails cut into the great north woods. And that same sense of solitude, joy, and adventure can be experienced at one of Minnesota’s great northern golf courses.
There are plenty of courses in the central lakes area of the state, and they are well appointed and offer every challenge imaginable, but if you are looking to escape it all in a great northern locale, we have a few suggestions about where to play on a northern Minnesota golf getaway.
The adventure starts in Biwabik, Minn., a small town on the edge of the iron range and not far from the beginning of the BWCA. Just outside of Biwabik is located Giants Ridge Golf & Ski Resort, which is home to two of the more decorated golf courses in the state. The Legend — the first course built at Giants Ridge — and The Quarry (which came into being in 2003) are consistently on the list of national golf course rankings as the best places to play.
The Legend course offers unsurpassed north woods beauty with its expansive fairways surrounded by tall timbers and dense, tranquil forest. While the challenge is great at The Legend, with its forced carries and occasionally long par fours, the beauty is memorable — whether it is the giant foot print bunker on hole No. 3, or he incredible par 3 No. 17, which requires a difficult shot across Lake Sabin to the green. (The tee on 17 has been the locale of engagement dinners, wedding photography and just a great spot for your foursome’s selfie.)
The Quarry offers a slightly different atmosphere. Carved out of the jagged hills and swales of a reclaimed iron mine, the Quarry’s rugged beauty prepares the intrepid traveler for a unique golf experience. The Quarry has 146 slope rating and earns every bit as this muscular track features wind, water, and elevation changes that test every shot you have in the bag.
Accommodations for the two courses feature the Lodge at Giants Ridge (near the first tee of the Legend) and the Villas, which are located near The Quarry — both are equally appointed and are decorated to highlight the beautiful north woods motif.
Each course was designed by architect Jeffrey Brauer — who clearly couldn’t get enough of working with the northern Minnesota land, as just down the road in Tower, Minn., sits the third leg of the “Northern Trilogy,” The Wilderness at Fortune Bay. And Brauer offers yet another superlative and unique golf experience up north with The Wilderness.
Built along the shores of beautiful Lake Vermillion in the heart of the Iron Range, The Wilderness provides some of the most scenic panoramas of upper Midwest golf. The blues and greens of the countryside are brilliant and in the Fall take on increasing beauty as the changing hardwoods take over in seasonal finery. Brauer has cut 18 fantastic holes through this dramatic landscape, and at more than 7,200 yards from the tips, you better bring your A game. And if you’re not done yet, try plan B inside the Fortune Bay Resort Casino, where the excitement can continue. With more than 25,000 square feet of exciting gaming space on two floors, you will surely find our next challenge.
The Northern Trilogy is the place to play for your next northern Minnesota getaway. The golf is great and the locale can’t be beat for memorable “up north” experience.