Everybody has got to have a list right? Add the MNGolfCourses.com top 10 courses in the state and you’ll never need to read another top 10 list again. What makes our list so special? We’re still asking that. Of note, these are courses we’ve actually played (except for #4) so that’s something. Right?
Let’s get to it. What makes a top 10 course? Here’s our criteria:
- Playability (do you leave the course thinking, “that was fun”)
- Excellent design
- Challenging for the best and the not-so-great golfers
- Can anyone play? (we’re not excluding the privates here but it’s great when a course can be played by all)
While there are also some intangibles about a course that you just can’t put your finger on, this is a short-list of how we arrived at the top 10. We’d love to hear from you too – on any courses we left out that should be here and votes for your favorites.
10. The Royal Golf Club
Previously Tartan Park, Arnold Palmer (in his last U.S. course design before his passing) and Annika Sorenstam (her first U.S. design) teamed to renovate and design The Royal Golf Club. Each hole is unique and offers the golfer different options from the tee. We believe this course will stand the test of time and continue to climb the ranks of one of the state’s best courses.
9. Legends Golf Club
Located in the south metro, Legends Golf Club is a one of those courses that you can’t wait to visit again. When the wind kicks up here, it can play challenging – but on a nice summer day, it’s a real treat. It is one of those golf courses that presents like a private club – but is open to the public (for this we give it extra points!). Gill Miller designed this course with environment-friendly care and attention to detail. Hole #13 is reminiscent of the famed 17th at Medinah Country Club in Chicago with it’s railroad ties guarding the front of the green.
8. Rush Creek Golf Course
A Twin Cities gem, Rush Creek was designed by John Fought and Bob Cupp. It’s held several LPGA events and the 2004 U.S. Publinks Championship (won by Ryan Moore). The course meanders around marsh and water and offers a challenging but friendly test from any tee box. It’s one of those courses that you cite to friends wanting to play one or two courses if they’re visiting the metro area.
7. Minneapolis Golf Club
Another course rich in history is the Minneapolis Golf Club. In 1950 it played host to the U.S. Amateur and in 1959, the PGA Championship. A Willie Park Jr. / Donald Ross design it has recently been updated with state-of-the-art irrigation and enhanced holes. Its tree-lined fairways and picturesque hole routing is master-class. While this is another private club on our list, it cannot be overlooked as one of the states best.
6. Edinburgh USA
For many years, this course has topped the list of “must-play” courses in the Twin Cities. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Edinburgh USA has hosted some of the best from the US Amateur Publinks to the LPGA Tour and Minnesota State Open. Having grown up around this course, it has a certain prestige and elegance. The stately clubhouse, bent grass fairways, quick greens, and challenging holes make it one of the state’s best. It’s also been restored to more championship form in recent years with added length, re-routing of hole 10, removal of bunkers (to speed up play) and the addition of a practice area.
5. Woodhill Country Club
While not open to the public, Woodhill Country Club in Wayzata is one of the states premiere golf courses. A Donald Ross design, it played host to the 1957 Trans-Mississippi Tournament won by Jack Nicklaus. Exquisitely maintained (as most private clubs are), each hole is a treat to play. Drive slow while making your way into the club as you meander through the course up to the Woodhill clubhouse at the top of the hill.
4. Deacon’s Lodge
While we haven’t had the pleasure of playing this course (but have walked around its grounds a little), we’ve heard nothing but rave reviews on Deacon’s Lodge in Breezy Point. Curated by the great Arnold Palmer and named after his beloved father, Deacon, it is continuing to land on many golfers’ “bucket list.” Carved through wetlands and woods, it is a beautifully maintained course in the heart of resort country. A cozy clubhouse greets players and you’re sure to want a return visit.
3. Hazeltine National
No course in Minnesota has a bigger redemption story than Hazeltine National. Playing host to the 1970 U.S. Open, players decried the course for being too tough and a bit of a cow pasture. Runner-up, Dave Hill said “they ruined a good farm when they built this course.” Instead of shrinking from the criticism, the course made some changes that were enough for it to garner more attention from organizers. It has played host to more major golf tournaments than any Minnesota course. The climax of this, arrived in 2016 when Hazeltine National hosted the Ryder Cup won by the American’s. A lengthy course, it is right in front of the golfer, offering nothing gimmicky or tricky in its layout – except for the unexpected 16th that jets around and into Lake Hazeltine. A true test of golf and one of the best Minnesota has to offer.
2. Interlachen Country Club
Interlachen’s history alone should plant it on everyone’s top 10 best courses in Minnesota. The aura of something big greets guests as they exit off Excelsior Boulevard up to the clubhouse. It played host to the 1930 U.S. Open won by Bobby Jones on his way in completing the Grand Slam (including the infamous “lilly pad shot” on the 9th hole in the second round). Interlachen also held the U.S. Women’s Open, the Walker Cup, Solheim Cup and the U.S. Senior and Women’s Amateur. Another Donald Ross design, it’s beautiful layout makes Interlachen a true Minnesota gem worthy of top ten status.
1. The Quarry at Giants Ridge
If you ever get up to the Iron Range and visit Biawbik, treat yourself to this unique golfing experience unlike any other you’ll find in Minnesota. The Quarry at Giants Ridge – like it’s older sister course, The Legend, is a treat from the first tee. An understated parking lot and clubhouse greet guests – but once you wind your way through the tunnel onto the first tee, you realize you’re in for a treat. Tree-lined and cut through parts of a quarry, you’ll be anticipating each hole on this one-of-a-kind Minnesota masterpiece. Played from the tips, this course offers all that you can handle and more. Look for this course to continue moving up everyone’s “must-play” list.
So there you have it, the best courses in the great state of Minnesota. We’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on our selection and if you feel like we missed one of the state’s best.