Pine Island Golf Course opened on Labor Day weekend in 1994—fitting, since golfers have to put in a fair amount of work to surmount the gauntlet of wide fairways, water hazards, and rock outcroppings spread across 140 acres. Though challenging, the course presents a fair test for golfers of all stripes, earning it a "Hacker's Favorite" designation by Hacker's Guide to Minnesota & Western Wisconsin Golf Courses. When not golfing or searching the woods for winning scorecards, visitors can hone their skills on practice facilities including a driving range and putting green.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 71 course * Total length of 6,563 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 71.8 from the back tees * Course slope of 131 from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole * Scorecard
The two courses at Mississippi National Golf Links?the Highlands and the Lowlands?do share a few things in common. Both are 18-hole layouts with a par of 71, they boast beginner-friendly lengths of less than 6,500 yards, and they offer players sweeping panoramas of the Red Wing Bluffs.
But that's where the similarities end. For one, the Highlands is named for its position atop those bluffs, so golfers can peer down into the Hiawatha Valley and the Mississippi River below them. This unique terrain creates some interesting shots, most notably the tee shot at the 17th hole, a par 3 that boasts a staggering 150-foot drop from tee to green. The Lowlands course, as might be expected, resides at the valley basin, keeping everyone from beginners to pros guessing which holes are just a hole and which one might actually be the valley's drain.
Lowlands Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 71 course * Total length of 6,489 yards from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole * View the scorecard
Highlands Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 71 course * Total length of 6,282 yards from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole * View the scorecard
Sculpted into the sandstone bluffs of the Mississippi River Valley in 1915, the course at Red Wing Golf Club has challenged golfers? accuracy and consistency for nearly a century. As they line up tee shots down tight fairways bordered by towering oaks and pines, players soon realize that the layout rewards accuracy and positioning as opposed to brute strength or double-jointedness. Upon finishing their rounds on the 6,190-yard gauntlet, golfers can head inside to The Brassie Spoon Bar & Grill for sandwiches, salads, and drinks in front of a big-screen television.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par-72 course * Total length of 6,190 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 70.7 from the back tees * Course slope of 133 from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole
Designed atop a moraine left by glaciers thousands of years ago, Spring Valley Golf Course showcases two distinct front and back nine sides featuring significant elevation changes due to the landscape's ancient terrain. The front nine is designed over a deposit of debris, rocks, and the scribbled wills of melting icebergs, a tricky track of holes where wind becomes a factor due to the scarcity of trees. As soon as players make the turn to the more challenging back nine, towering pine trees crowd the narrow fairways and demand extremely precise course play.
Players can browse the latest equipment or rest weary legs on the Pro Shop's welcoming porch, a prime vantage point for watching players take aim at the green of the par 3 seventh hole or swordfight with sand wedges over a disagreement concerning maximum gimme distance. The grounds also encompass a restaurant and full bar area.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 6,053 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 70.4 from the back tees * Course slope of 124 from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole * 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.
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.