Hazeltine National Golf Club (pictured below) was established in 1962 with the mission “to build and maintain a golf course suitable to conduct national championships." The Ryder Cup comes here in 2016—the first time the tournament will be played in the state of Minnesota. For fans of the biennial battle between the American and European golf teams who are making the trip to Minnesota, there is plenty to learn—especially if it is your first trip to the land of 10,000 water hazards. Visitors should bring their clubs and plan to play some of the finest courses they will ever experience.
Minnesota, contrary to popular misconception, is not located near the Arctic Circle and therefore not under snow and ice for the entire year. We have a very temperate golf season that lasts for seven months. At the time of the Ryder Cup, which takes place in mid- to late September, it is peak growing season in Minnesota, and many of the local golf courses are in the best shape they are in all year long.
Speaking of golf courses, Minnesota has hundreds of them—many concentrated in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, plus resort courses and incredible tracks secluded in the north woods. Many Minnesota courses appear on national “Best of” lists. The purveyor of Minnesota’s “bucket list” of must-play golf courses is the Explore Minnesota Golf Alliance, which ranks the top 25 public clubs and resorts that visitors can rely on for a fantastic golf experience.
You don’t have to travel far from Hazeltine National in Chaska to find a great course to play while in the area. Among the higher-end Twin Cities courses are Chaska Town Course, which is virtually in Hazeltine’s backyard; StoneRidge Golf Club in Stillwater; Legends Club and The Wilds Golf Club, both in Prior Lake; and Rush Creek Golf Club in Maple Grove (pictured below). These courses offer country club amenities at a public or semiprivate facility.
There are also plenty of Twin Cities mid-level courses that are every bit as well-conditioned and challenging as the high-end tracks. For example, Edinburgh USA in Brooklyn Park has hosted multiple LPGA tournaments.
If you have a little extra time and a vehicle at your disposal, head north to the Brainerd Lakes area in central Minnesota to find some of the finest course the state has to offer. The Classic at Madden's, The Pines and The Preserve at Grand View Lodge, The Legacy Courses at Cragun's Resort, Golden Eagle Golf Club and the Arnold Palmer-designed Deacon’s Lodge at Breezy Point—named after Arnold’s father—are challenging and beautiful courses that wind through quiet woods splashed with dozens of water features and teeming with wildlife. The lodging at these golf resorts are second to none.
It should be noted that Minnesotans are golf crazy, and they typically sell out professional events that come to town. Get to Hazeltine early!