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.
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:
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.
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.