Minnesota's 400+ golf courses can be a daunting universe to sort through when planning a golf vacation, but courses grouped together along "trails" make it easy to organize an extended golf getaway. The following six golf trails provide quality with varying degrees of difficulty. The trails match up nicely with several popular Minnesota Scenic Byways, making for enjoyable drives between the courses. So pack your clubs and select a trail to explore.
This selection of courses is located near the Otter Trail and Lake Country scenic byways, popular lake areas with excellent golf. In Battle Lake, Balmoral Golf Course's record is a blistering 64, so have fun trying to card a score that low. Savor the woods and water at Blueberry Pines in Menahga, designed by former PGA Tour player and Minnesota native Joel Goldstrand. Both Longbow and Tianna are neat tracks in Walker, and the 27 holes at Perham Lakeside Golf Club provide a topographic mix that administers every type of golf test.
The Wildflower at Fair Hills Resort in Detroit Lakes is also a Goldstrand creation, with 7,000 yards and course and slope ratings that suggest challenge. In Ottertail, Thumper Pond's 18 holes feature more than 30,000 pine trees and the resort sports a spa and indoor water park.
Winding its way throughout this fabulous lakes area is the 54-mile Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway, where Gull Lake and the Whitefish Chain provide a superb background for some of the state's best golf. The 27-hole Pines and The Preserve at Grand View Lodge set the bar for golf on this trail. The two Robert Trent Jones Jr. designs at Cragun's Resort are impressive, and The Traditional, Whitebirch and Arnold Palmer-designed Deacon's Lodge at Breezy Point Resort keep players returning. Golden Eagle's exquisite setting is enhanced by the cozy cabins that keep players on-site.
This trail encompasses eight courses along the North Shore Scenic Drive and the Superior National Forest Scenic Byway. Along the 154-mile North Shore byway, the Silver Bay 9–hole is a popular prelude to Superior National's dramatic 27 holes at Lutsen. After years of renovations, Superior National unveiled its completed project in 2018, designed by Jeffrey Brauer and featuring white sand, ﬁve sets of tees, wider fairways and idyllic greens. You may be lucky enough to spot a moose while playing Gunﬂint Hills, 4 miles north of the Grand Marais harbor.
Inland from the shore, the Superior Forest byway leads to the towns of Aurora and Hoyt Lakes, with a 9-hole municipal course. The next stop is Giants Ridge in Biwabik, home to two of Minnesota's most acclaimed golf courses, The Legend and The Quarry. Municipals in Eveleth and Virginia round out this tour.
Minnesota River Valley
Shoreland Country Club in St. Peter presents itself where the Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway turns from south to west. It’s a short par-69 with seven par-3s, views of the river valley and routes along Lake Emily. Le Sueur’s course is relatively short by today’s standards but compensates with pesky hillside lies. Mankato offers two courses on this trail. One, North Links, boasts a large driving range and two practice holes. Thirsty New Ulm Country Club patrons can opt for apres golf at the nearby Schell’s Brewery or Morgan Creek Vineyards, and then peruse the town’s Germanic ﬂavor.
A Minnesota gem emerges on the wide open prairie near Morton. Dacotah Ridge is Rees Jones-inspired golf, with vast expanses of native fescue swaying in the prairie winds and framing portions of Wabasha Creek. Granite Run in Granite Falls and The Crossings at Montevideo combine with courses in Appleton and Ortonville to complete this trail along the Minnesota River.
True to its moniker, this trail rides along the Mississippi River with the river bluffs on its wing, along the southern stretch of Minnesota's Great River Road. It begins with three courses in Hastings, which lies at the confluence of the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers. In Red Wing, the Red Wing Golf Club and the two courses at Mississippi National are championship golf options. Just down shore, Mount Frontenac Golf Course tracks up and down the bluff, where deer are plentiful.
Lake City Golf is gateway to The Jewel Golf Club, an upscale Hale Irwin course that doesn't disappoint. Lake Pepin and Coffee Mill courses are highly elevated, and the two courses in Winona, The Bridges and Cedar Valley, are both peaceful oases in lush valleys worth the trip for golf and surprising dining.
This golf trail follows the scenic byway of this name just south of the Canadian border from Hallock to Voyageurs National Park. The trail begins with courses at Hallock, Karlstad and Greenbush before the 18-hole Oakcrest Golf Course in Roseau. Warroad Estates is a regulation woodland course popular with Canadian golfers, and its ninth green is the shape of the state of Minnesota. Oak Harbor's vintage front nine is woodsy, and the back has a Scottish links feel along the Rainy River.