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Get to Know Golf in the 2016 Ryder Cup Host State
The Ryder Cup is coming to Hazeltine National Golf Club in 2016—the first time ever to the state of Minnesota. For fans of the biennial battle between the United States and European golf teams who are making the trip to Minnesota, there is plenty to learn—especially if it is your first trip to the land of 10,000 water hazards.
Minnesota, contrary to popular misconception, is not located near the Arctic Circle and therefore under snow and ice for the entire year. We have a very temperate golf season and get six months (often seven months) of great golf weather in the state. At the time of the Ryder Cup, which takes place in mid-to-late September, it is the peak growing season for Minnesota, and many of the local golf courses are in the best shape they are all year long.
Minnesota has some of the most fertile growing lands in the country—which is why many immigrants first settled here—and that goes for growing golf courses, as well. Bentgrass fairways and greens are commonplace in the area, making for excellent playing surfaces. In addition, the University of Minnesota Horticulture department has its own turfgrass research program, so new strains of weather and disease-resistant grasses are often being tried and implemented on local courses.
Speaking of the golf courses, Minnesota has hundreds of them–many concentrated in the Twin Cities, plus resort courses and incredible tracks secluded in the northern woods. There are many Minnesota courses that appear on national “Best of” lists.
You don’t have to travel far from Hazeltine National in Chaska to find a great course to play while in the area. Among the higher-end Twin Cities courses sure to impress is Chaska Town Course, which is virtually in Hazeltine’s backyard. StoneRidge Golf Club in Stillwater, The Wilds Golf Club in Prior Lake and Rush Creek Golf Club in Maple Grove are also atop the list of great Twin Cities courses. These courses can get a substantial fee for their services, but they are worth it—as they offer country club amenities at a public or semi-private facility.
There are also plenty of Twin Cities mid-level courses that are every bit as well-conditioned and challenging as the high-end tracks. Edinburgh USA in Brooklyn Park once hosted an LPGA tournament.
If you have plenty of time in the area and a vehicle at your disposal, head up north to the Brainerd Lakes area in central Minnesota, where are located some of the finest courses the state has to offer. The Classic at Madden’s, The Pines and The Preserve at Grand View Lodge, and the Arnold Palmer-designed Deacon’s Lodge at Breezy Point–named after his father—are challenging and beautiful courses that wind through quiet woods teeming with wildlife. The lodging at the course properties are second to none.
It should be noted that Minnesotans are golf crazy, and they typically sell out professional events that come to town. Get to Hazeltine early and consider staking out a spot near the iconic 16th, a par 4 bordered by a creek left and Lake Hazeltine on the right. It could be a pivotal spot on the final days of singles in the 2016 Ryder Cup matches.