At dawn, just as the sun breaks the horizon and a layer of dew reveals a path of fresh footprints, fairways open up through the morning fog to reveal a challenging circuit of golf holes. Chisago Lakes Golf Course's relatively open, par 72 layout features forgiving tree-lines and multiple ponds, which come into play on 12 holes to supply the bulk of the course's difficulty and relief for caddies with dry-mouth. Runaway swings gain traction at the club's driving range, which features a grass hitting area that measures 40 yards by 60 yards to ensure a natural lie for each swing rehearsal.
At the pro shop, golfers stock their Scottish quivers with new equipment and accessories from Titleist, Cobra, Cleveland, and other top brands. Chisago Lakes also encompasses The Gallery Bar & Grill, which serves up an eclectic menu that includes classic burgers, steaks, and seafood.
Course at a Glance:
A shimmering sheet of bluegrass spreads underfoot on each of the 27 holes at Viking Meadows Golf Club. Eighteen of these manicured fairways make up the club's championship-length course, The Meadows, a 6,428-yard undertaking that pits players against water hazards on six holes, tricky dogleg turns, and the constant threat of mole people bursting from the ground. The Woods course, its nine-hole sibling, invites golfers to practice their game or tune up before playing through the championship links.
The Meadows Course at a Glance:
The Woods Course at a Glance:
Designed by course architect Kevin Norby, The Refuge Golf Club cleaves through 350 acres of woods and wetlands to frame an 18-hole, par 72 course. Native grasses, wooden cart bridges, and immaculate bluegrass fairways characterize this northern-style course, which challenges golfers with tight tree lines and abundant sunbathing opportunities for losing shirts in sand traps. If golfers haven't spotted much wildlife throughout the course, they might find a gallery of hawks, deer, and feral caddies watching at the 17th, the course's second-most-difficult hole. Clubbers must blast tee shots over a forced carry before safely landing on an open fairway that leads to a green flanked by bunkers on both sides. Players can warm up for rounds at the 20-stall driving range and contoured putting green, and PGA professionals help golfers hone their game during private lessons. Meanwhile, a 13,000-square-foot clubhouse built of rock and cedar beckons for post-round revelry in the facility's restaurant, bar, and pro shop.
Course at a Glance:
With 27 challenging kentucky-bluegrass fairways in front of lush bentgrass greens, The Ponds challenges golfers to play a trio of nine-hole courses or combine two of them for three unique 18-hole rounds. Water hazards make for an especially difficult approach to the green on the Red Course's signature first hole, whereas the White Course's ninth hole ends with a green flanked by sand traps. Wetlands and sloped greens make up the Blue Course, which players can travel in new electric-power carts.
Before hitting the fairways, golfers can warm up at the driving range, chipping green, putting green, or pleading-with-your-clubs green. After the round, replace any golf balls that got away at the pro shop, which stocks brands such as Nike and Titleist.
Red Course at a Glance:
Blue Course at a Glance:
White Course at a Glance:
Two par fours that measure less than 330 yards lie within the first four holes at Krooked Kreek Golf Club, giving golfers an opportunity to get off to a low-scoring start as they embark on their 18-hole round. On the front nine—sculpted in 1990, five years prior to the back nine—the greens are large and mostly flat, forgiving slightly off-center approaches. The greens shrink a bit on the back nine and add a more undulated terrain, demanding more time spent reading putts. The course's namesake creek combines with the site's natural wetlands to hamper play at various points, forcing players to contend with water or wash dirty argyles at 11 points throughout the round.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 6,401 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 70.6 from the back tees * Course slope of 123 from the back tees * Three sets of tees per hole * Scorecard
While other athletic clubs hibernate, Majestic Oaks welcomes Old Man Winter's frigid embrace with snow-savvy cheer. Played using golf clubs and a fuzzy tennis ball, snow golf provides nine holes of family-spanning fun and takes less than an hour to complete. Traversing the course, most of whose holes are under 100 yards, provides a reason to enjoy a brisk winter afternoon with friends while getting some light exercise. Hot chocolate and coffee (a value of $1.50 each) can keep your foursome of snow-golfers warm or can be used to punish snowmen who overindulge in mulligans.