Early in the spring, when the threat of snow still hovers over the state of Minnesota, the golf course at Sundance Golf Banquet Bowl is open. Later in the fall, when the threat of snow once again looms and golf carts begin to go into hibernation, the course remains open. Over the years, the 18-hole, par 72 course has become reliable place for determined golfers to battle for being the first or last of the year to sneak in a round. Recently, Sundance augmented its links with a bowling alley, inviting visitors to escape the elements and pick up some strikes in the process. Away from all the competition, the facility's bar and grill refuels tanks with popular house-made pizzas, half-pound burgers, and plenty of beer and cocktails.
Designed by prolific course architect Joel Goldstrand, Rum River Hills Golf Club's 18-hole course weaves through 6,308 yards of water-lined fairways and undulating greens. Water hazards present challenges from the very first tee, where aggressive players may choose to lay up or drive balls over a pond to cut the corner off of a fairway that dog-legs right, setting up a favorable approach onto a green 413 yards away. Rum River Hills tests players’ short game with undulating greens that take golf balls through more sharp turns than a golf cart driving through a grocery store.
A full-length driving range allows players to warm up before they take to the course, and the club's PGA instructors offer lessons for those looking to improve their swing mechanics. After a day at the links, course patrons can drop in at McDuff's Restaurant, which serves an expansive menu of salads, burgers, steaks, and pizzas. Inside the sunlit dining room, 11 TVs let guests catch up with live sports, while outdoor patio seating caters to those hoping to reverse engineer the technology of the lawn mowers maintaining the course below.
Course at a Glance: * Designed by Joel Goldstrand * 18-hole, par 71 course * Length of 6,308 yards from the farthest tees * Course rating of 71.0 from the farthest tees * Slope rating of 117 from the farthest tees * Four tee options
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.
Under the guidance of new course superintendent David Simeon, who draws on nearly a quarter century of experience and a degree in turf management, the links at Greens of Howard Lake underwent a thorough makeover and renewal in 2011. Course architect Ed Lahr made myriad improvements, such as regrading the fairway on hole 2 and enhancing it with a pond. In addition to rejuvenating the course’s turf and waging a war on weeds, the overhaul led to a renovated clubhouse where players can rent premium clubs for playing the links or carrying knapsacks over their shoulders on contemplative walks through the course. After the last swing is swung, they can also fuel up with pizza and beer onsite or stop at the pro shop to pick up new gear.
Course at a Glance: * 9-hole, par 36 course * Length of 3,313 yards * Course rating of 35.4 * Slope rating of 115
Narrow, tree-lined fairways, undulating greens, and a flowing creek that dips in and out of play make Elm Creek Golf Course more challenging than its nearly 6,000-yard length might suggest. The balanced difficulty means golfers of all ability levels can enjoy an afternoon on the course.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 70 course (par 71 from the red tees) * Total length of 5891 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 69.0 from the back tees * Course slope of 125 from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole * Scorecard
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.