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Golf in SouthWest Minnesota: A Guide
(Harvester GC, Rhodes Iowa, above)
Memorial weekend has always been about “The Golf Trip”. Anywhere from 8 to 20 guys would road trip to northern MN and play golf all weekend, enjoy a few beverages, eat well (I cooked, so they did eat well…regardless of what you may have heard), tell stories of our rounds, and generally laugh the night away. For the past couple of years our merry little band of golfers trekked down to Iowa to play the Harvester and other neighboring courses. By the way, if you have not played the Harvester, put it on your bucket list. It’s that good.
Anyway, back to the “Trip”. Well this year, the powers that be decided that Memorial weekend was not going to work due to family obligations and that they would be heading out this weekend. That did not work for my brave and intrepid friend Scott, who already cleared his calendar with work and permission from the wife. So I offered to take him down to SW Minnesota and show him some of the courses in the area. If you have not been in the area thinking there aren’t any good courses ‘down there’, think again.
(Tyler GC below)
FRIDAY: Our first destination is the Tyler Golf Club. For many years Tyler was a nice and quaint little 9 hole track, solid membership, but not much else. Recently, after some generous financial donations, the course was expanded to 18 holes, a new clubhouse was built, and because of the hostile environment in neighboring towns the membership grew. Tyler still has some of the old greens. Little postage stamps that require your irons shots to be accurate. No. #2 is a par 3 with a green no bigger than my living room and multi-leveled. Many of the new holes are laid out beautifully and the greens are larger. Not terribly fast but roll very smoothly. Water comes into play mostly on the back nine and the par 4’s are a little shorter than what you’ll see in the cities, but they are protected by trees, bunkers, and water so your best play is to lay up and make a safer approach. Very enjoyable golf course and you can’t go wrong.
(Prairie View golf Links below)
SATURDAY: Of course it rained and thundered all of Friday night and our concern for playing golf on Saturday was there but not that much. When we’re on golf vacation, bring the rain gear, the rain gloves, umbrellas and extra towels because we are playing. Our first stop was the Prairie Links Golf course in Worthington, MN. True to the name of the course, this is a links style course. Based on the winds, rain, and overall cloudiness a picture would certainly look like we were overseas. Well kept, large greens that were a little slow from the rain but got faster as the rain stopped and wind kept blowing and a greenskeeper who decided to have some fun by putting the pins in some diabolical positions meant for a challenging morning. Our verdict: for $25 with cart (booked online) there is not a better deal out there…go play this course.
(Worthington Country Club Clubhouse below)
That afternoon we ventured over to the Worthington Country Club. The club always has a special place in my heart. I played a lot of high school golft here, participated in the Labor Day Golf Classic, and they are well-known in the area for having some of the smoothest and quickest greens in the area. The club has been beset by some financial difficulties, which is not uncommon in many parts of the area, but they did not skimp on maintaining the quality of the golf course. I had forgotten how small the first three greens are…similar to Tyler’s and probably based on the course also at one time being a nine hole track. Plenty of trees that have grown over the years, undulating greens, and wet conditions made playing Worthington a challenge and we enjoyed having the back nine to ourselves.
(Pipestone GC clubhouse below)
SUNDAY: We got up early and played my hometown course, the Pipestone Country Club, with my father and his crew. Scott and I played nine holes the night before so he could see how the course was laid out. Between playing the back tees, the high winds, and the 6 plus inches of rain that had fallen…we seriously considered finding a different track to play. No need. While still wet, the water had gone down considerably and the group played from the white tees. The first two holes of the course are over 1000 yards… 415 yard number # 1 and 610 yard number #2. The average size of the greens: 5500 square feet. But you can also drive the short par 4 5 th and possibly the 8th hole if the wind conditions are right. And it’s always windy. It’s a fun course and the re-modeled clubhouse has been filled each weekend with weddings, reunions, and parties. I’m biased but I’d still give them a thumbs up.
(Prairie Green, Sioux Falls below)
That afternoon we ventured over to Sioux Falls and played Prairie Green. 7100 from the black tees. They host a number of qualifying events and for good reason. Prairie Green is a great test of golf. This is not a walker’s course. Many holes are built around housing, kind of like Edinburgh. We played Twilight rates and it was $29 for green fee and a cart. Another great golf deal.
(Redwood Falls GC below)
MONDAY: On our way back to the cities, we stopped to play the Redwood Falls Golf Club. I used to manage the course a few years ago and had not had the opportunity to play in a while. When it was a 9-hole track it was plenty tough. Now mixed in with their new nine, you’ve got a course where a low score can be had. But you can get into trouble just as easily. I love saying this about a SW Minnesota course: Redwood is a course with elevation changes. The second shot into the Par 5 9th hole is a blind shot. As is the 2nd shot on the 17th. Dacotah Ridge is a mere 10 miles away and arguably one of the best golf courses in the state, but golfers would be doing themselves a disservice by not playing Redwood Falls GC.
There are still a number of courses to be played in the SW area…most of them are nine hole tracks, but with plenty of character and club managers happy to have you visiting. Where did you play Memorial weekend?
Visit SouthWestMinnesotaGolfing.com for more info on SW MN GC’s!