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Driving Minnesota Week 13 Recap

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

September 8 - The Minikahda Club (Minneapolis)

September 8 - Wild Marsh Golf Club (Buffalo)

September 9 - Edina Country Club (Edina)

September 10 - Dahlgreen Golf Club (Chaska)

September 10 - Island View Golf Club (Waconia)

September 12 - Superior National at Lutsen (Lutsen)

September 12 - Two Harbors - Lakeview National Golf Course (Two Harbors)

September 13 - Enger Park Golf Course (Duluth)

September 13 - Northland Country Club (Duluth)

September 14 - Hazeltine National Golf Club (Chaska)

This is it. Week 13. The final write-up to an incredible summer. It has been my privilege to host the Driving Minnesota Golf Tour and embark on a quest to discover what makes Minnesota golf special.
 
I visited ten golf courses this week. It started Wednesday at Wild Marsh in Buffalo with Dusty Paquin, an avid golfer aiming to become the youngest person to play every single golf hole in Minnesota. He’s played 493 Minnesota courses, some in the most remote locations you can imagine. He is also an avid collector of golf collectibles and owns the second-largest collection of golf-specific matchbook covers in the world.
 
Wild Marsh was a fun course to play. It has a difficult par five that resembles the 18th at Pebble Beach, and many holes have long forced carries. The greens were in nice shape and rolled at a perfect speed. It was an enjoyable round at a course I look forward to playing again in the future!
 
Wednesday afternoon, I had a chance to play the historic Minikahda Club on the outskirts of Minneapolis. Minikahda is Lakota for ‘By the side of the water,’ fitting given the course’s location on Lake Bde Maka Ska. The clubhouse offers wonderful views of the lake and the Minneapolis skyline. I played with Pat Cronin, Minikahda member and avid supporter of the Evans Scholars, and we had a great time playing the timeless Donald Ross design. The bunkering around the greens and down the fairways was some of the best I’ve ever seen.
 
Founded in 1898, the course hosted the 1916 U.S. Open won by Chick Evans. Minikahda has also hosted nearly every other major USGA event including the Walker Cup, Solheim Cup, and the U.S. Amateur. From a social standpoint, Minikahda remains a hub of social gathering for some of Minnesota’s most influential families.
 
On Thursday, I played Edina Country Club with the “next-gen” MGA staff as part of the MGA Foundation’s Youth on Course 100 Holes Challenge. Edina CC is a beautiful Bendelow/Lehman-designed track with exquisite features and pure conditions. It was a treat.
 
I played with Tristan Gust, Julia Hall and Rachel Hernandez. Tristan heads up the MGA Senior Tour, Julia is a recent South Dakota golf alum interning for Tristan, and Rachel is a UW-Stout golf alum and manager of MGA Member Services. They’re quite the players, as well! The Minnesota Golf Association is in great hands with such awesome staff, and the entire Minnesota golf community will benefit because of it.
 
Friday morning, I visited Island View Golf Club in Waconia, host of the 2021 MGA Women’s Amateur. The course was in very nice condition and featured some impressive water holes including the par 3 No. 6 and par 4 No. 13. There are also views of Lake Waconia on the back nine and from the clubhouse. It’s a fun track that has both difficult holes and birdie opportunities.
 
That afternoon, I visited the lovely Dahlgreen Golf Club in Chaska. Dahlgreen is surrounded by farmland which makes for a serene golf experience. The course is in nice shape, as were the greens. The semi-private track has been around for more than 50 years and offers another great public option in the southwest metro.
 
On Sunday, I headed up the north shore to visit Lakeview National and Superior National. Lakeview National in Two Harbors has greens in great shape and intimidating greenside bunkers on nearly every hole. There are some neat views of Lake Superior, hence its name Lakeview National.  It's a fun track easily accessible right on 61.
 
In the afternoon, I visited Superior National Golf Course in Lutsen. I was amazed by its natural beauty and course features. It truly felt like the golf course was carved into nature — not the other way around. Nestled in the mountains of Lutsen, a couple hours up the north shore from Duluth, most of the holes offer a view of Lake Superior, and the ones that don’t bring a new element to the course such as a canyon or rock feature. This is a must-play golf course, especially due to its recent $4.6 million renovation, that seems to fly under the radar of most ranking publications.
 
On Monday morning, I had a chance to visit Enger Park Golf Course in Duluth. It’s a 27-hole public facility with a nice mix of styles throughout. I played the middle nine, which offered some neat dogleg par fours. The greens were in nice condition, and it was an enjoyable track. The drive to the course was gorgeous, through downtown Duluth’s rolling hills with expansive views of Lake Superior.
 
My trip up the North Shore concluded Monday afternoon with a round at the magnificent, historical Northland Country Club. The Donald Ross design dating back to 1899 is often in the conversation as one of the state’s best, and with incredible Lake Superior views throughout, it’s hard to argue with that.
 
The greens are some of the trickiest in the state. Just remember that everything breaks towards the water. Plus, these greens are quick. It’s important to keep the ball below the hole. There are some breathtaking downhill par fours with the lake as the backdrop. This is a stunning golf course that helps Minnesota’s cause as one of the best golf states around.
 
Finally, the week ended in the best way possible with a round at Hazeltine National with Minnesota Golf Association Executive Director Tom Ryan, Communications Director W.P. Ryan, and USGA Boatwright intern Jack Mendesh. All three were instrumental in the ideation and execution of this summer’s golf tour, and I’m extremely grateful to the MGA for their help and support this summer as I traveled the state to uncover the people, places and stories that make Minnesota a truly special place for golf.
 
It has been my honor to host the Driving Minnesota Golf Tour this summer. I hope you’ve all enjoyed the content from some of Minnesota’s most unique golf courses, and perhaps it’s even inspired you to go visit some of our wonderful courses all over the state. Stay tuned for more content recapping the tour with all I’ve learned about Minnesota golf from my travels.

Favorite Hole: The 17th hole on the Canyon course at Superior National is where I captured my best photo of the tour. The cotton candy-colored sky as the sun set over Lake Superior with a massive elevation change to a green surrounded by trees was quite the scene. Plus, I was about ten feet from a fox when I took this picture.
 
Best Shot: The best shot of the week goes not to myself, but instead to my playing partner Jack Mendesh. With BIG money on the line, in our case 50 pesos, he drained a 20-footer on the 18th at Hazeltine to save par and halve our match with Tom and WP.

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