Sometimes, you?d rather just enjoy a view of the fairways than be on them. That?s why the staff at Danny?s Bar & Grill, located at Stoneridge Golf Club, welcomes guests to sit on their expansive patio, which gives them clear views of the green. The patio features an outdoor fire pit where guests can keep warm on cool nights as they wait for plates of chef Bohnert?s Guinness-braised short ribs or mahi mahi encrusted with macadamia nuts. When patio weather is over, guests can still hang out by the indoor fireplace in the dining room where a slew of high-definition TVs showcase golf matches and, if the golf match turns out right, golf fights. On weekend evenings, live bands entertain in the dining room.
Skiers and snowboarders gently rise over the St. Croix River Valley in one of 18 chairlifts that grant them access to Afton Alps’ 300 acres of skiing terrain. With 48 trails—80% of which are manageable for beginner and intermediate alpinists—and an average annual snowfall of 48 inches, guests can carve their way down Afton Alps’ 350-foot vertical drop in a variety of ways, from slowly snaking down a 3,000-foot run to tucking into a cannonball at the peak and landing with a white splash at the base. Three rental shops provide guests with high-quality gear, and a snowtubing park offers a more leisurely way to enjoy the tender romance between snow and gravity.
In the spring, the melting snow gives way to the fairways and greens of Afton Alps’ 18-hole golf course, where golfers hunt pars over a combination of flat and hilly terrain. Guests can take in scenic views of the St. Croix River and its attendant wildlife aboard a peppy golf cart or while cruising down trails on a mountain bike or runaway wheelbarrow.
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.
Club swingers thrive on the tree-lined fairways of Chomonix's 6,596-yard course, where the flora and fauna of Minnesota's wilderness bespeak the course's location on the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes park reserve. Water hazards pepper seven holes, and sand traps camouflaged as golf-ball resorts add excitement to each shot. With a full bucket of balls, orb whackers can improve their form and distance on the driving range, and players can practice distinguishing between real holes and invisible wormholes on the putting green nearby. Golfers quash hunger with the clubhouse's grilled brats or burgers. The course experiences little or no winter-kill, so the local flora stays healthy all year long.
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.
Housing more than 7,000 certified used clubs, 2nd Swing offers both burgeoning golfers and more experienced club wielders a deep catalog of orb-mashing implements. Each club is thoroughly cleaned and vetted for signs of bumps, scratches, cracks, or sand-trap-related psychological trauma, then rated based on its condition to help patrons know exactly what they are getting. Increase your distance off the fairway or the tee-box with a ladies’ Callaway 4-iron ($29.99), or upgrade from unwieldy wedges fashioned from a doorstop dipped in molten lead and glued to a broomstick to a ladies’ Nike slingshot graphite gap wedge ($49.99). Give nascent Nicklauses their first divot-tearing toolbox with a Tommy Armour five-club junior set ($49.99), or see of they can reach the neighbors’ newly installed homing beacon with a drive from a Taylor Made junior driver ($29.99). Patrons can take any prospective purchase out for a same-day demo session at a nearby course or range, testing its gravitas on the greens before bringing it home to meet the family fish.
Victory Links Golf Course occupies 400 acres of lush greenery about 25 minutes north of the Twin Cities, and holds the sovereign exclusivity of being the only PGA Tour–designed public golf course in Minnesota. Residing within the confines of the National Sports Center campus, Victory Links is operated by the nonprofit National Sports Center Foundation. Within the 18-hole, links-style course, golfers find tee boxes positioned between 2,834 yards and 7,092 yards from the green, accommodating a host of golfing abilities and systems of measurement based upon the stride of local monarchs.