The par-three 11th at Bristol Ridge Golf Course is a formidable sight from the tee box. Armed with whatever club or curtain rod they can hit roughly 130 yards, golfers peer at a green wreathed by a semi-circular pond, which constitutes a watery grave for any tee shot that strays long, left, or right. And that's the third easiest hole at Bristol Ridge Golf Course's 6,582-yard, par 72 course. Rolling terrain, tree-lined fairways, and intermittent ponds—water comes into play in some form on 10 holes—characterize the layout, anchored by a par-five on each nine that rate as the two most difficult holes. Golf instructor Leif Bjornson roams the course and its practice facilities, offering clinics and private lessons for golfers of all ages and abilities that want to improve their game so they can finally ask their crush to caddy for them.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Length of 6,582 yards from the farthest tees * Course rating of 72.1 from the farthest tees * Slope rating of 133 from the farthest tees * Three tee options
Though they look tranquil and serene, the water hazards at Amery Golf Club's 18-hole golf course are a menace. A pair of ponds straddle the fairways on both the 9th and 10th holes, leaving a scorecard-thin margin for error on drives. On the par-five sixth, a pond deviously interrupts the trajectory of the fairway, forcing it around to the right before it snakes back to the green?a major reason why this hole has earned the number-one handicap rating. All told, there are water hazards on ten holes, and avoiding them requires constant vigilance and a well-caffeinated driver. Originally built in 1922, the course spans 6,235 yards from the tips.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Length of 6,235 yards from the tips * Slope rating of 121 from the tips * Course rating of 70.2 from the tips * Four tee options * Scorecard
A row of neatly trimmed trees lines either side of the winding driveway that leads up to the stately clubhouse at Kilkarney Hills Golf Course, welcoming visitors to its verdant grounds. Ever since players began spraying drives and rolling putts over the 18-hole course in 1994, the club has filled the space with similar congenial flourishes, including flower beds and a central lake fountain. After players hole out and exchange secret handshakes on the 18th green, they can head for drinks at the course bar, complete with a veranda where they can watch the sunset.
Mississippi Dunes Golf Links' sophisticated, 18-hole layout blankets 3,000 feet of rolling Mississippi River shoreline with manicured, bent-grass fairways and an inventive, tree-lined design. As golfers cruise over the course atop a cart or a caddy training to be an Olympic power squatter, majestic views of the river appear through groves of trees that shelter native prairie creatures. On their odyssey from tee boxes to speedy, contoured greens, golf balls must split fairways to avoid sidelines riddled with mounds, pot bunkers, and knee-high grasses—a trinity of hazards that imbue the course with a Scottish, links-style vibe. A memorable tee shot awaits at the 399-yard, par-4 fifth hole—the course's most difficult, nicknamed "Humpback" for the large mound in the middle of the fairway as well as its voracious appetite for krill—where golfers must draw or fade drives around a dogleg left.
After hacking their way across the breeze-swept links, guests can unwind at Doc's Landing Pub, where a menu of traditional grill fare, fish, and pizza sates tour-worthy appetites. Patrons can look out on the river on the Pub's patio, catch up on the day's sporting events in the glow of a flat-panel TV, or discuss how greenskeepers maintain the immaculate felt that covers the billiards table.
Most regulation-length golf courses are a place where players can challenge themselves and even measure their improvement. By focusing on par 3s, cutting round duration in half, and adding a practice range, Island Lake Golf is a place for players to do the actual improving. Beginners build confidence as they work their way around the eight par 3s and lone par 4, learning to avoid ponds and the outstretched limbs of trees and off-duty caddies hoping for high-fives. With the round's highlights and disappointments fresh in their minds, players can also log some time at the practice range to shore up weak spots. An 18-hole mini course is also on-site.
Mendota Heights has always had a hunger for golf. In 1961, just five years after the city's founding, the community draped nine short holes over the rolling terrain of a farm and dubbed it the Mendota Heights Par 3. It hasn't changed much over the years, still offering a forgiving layout for beginners to learn the game and more experienced golfers to practice using a mannequin leg instead of a putter. The scaled-down layout also serves as a training ground for lessons, camps, and leagues for golfers of all ages.