Published on May 21st, 2012 | by John Fritz1
Stonebrooke Golf Club – A Twin Cities’ Suburban Gem
Course Rating: 71.5
Slope Rating: 137
Total Distance: 6,475 yards
Weekend Rates: $58.00 | Weekday Rates: $52.00
Free cart when you book tee time online
Stonebrooke Golf Club, located a half hour from downtown Minneapolis in Shakopee, Minn., is well worth the trip for any golfer looking for a beautifully manicured, challenging course with plenty of memorable scenes. This suburban gem is one of the most unique courses in the Twin Cities: the par-4 eighth, featuring a ferry ride, carts and all, across O’Dowd Lake from the tee box to the fairway, was named KSTP’s Most Difficult Water Hole and 2nd Best Signature Hole in the Twin Cities.
The par-5 first hole is a difficult starter that foreshadows some of the course’s major obstacles: a network of snaking creeks and small ponds that winds its way along and across fairways on at least 13 holes; claustrophobic tee areas surrounded by low-hanging trees and hedgerows, forcing players who favor a slice or hook to take dead aim at the fairway or risk an abrupt end to the ball’s flight; and fast, undulating greens, many with areas that usher the ball back off the green on approaches not struck with the requisite amount of touch or conviction.
Stonebrooke’s intimidation factor and scenic beauty both reach their peaks as the course turns to run along O’Dowd Lake for holes 7 and 8, both of which require a long carry over water. There’s no room for error on the 133-yard par-3 7th – a miss left will end up in the lake, while the right side is defended by thick trees. To compound the danger, the 7th has one of the smallest greens on the course, which, when juxtaposed with the lake, can make it seem as though you’re aiming at a postage stamp.
This is all just a primer for the main attraction: the picturesque, 380-yard par-4 8th. Drives must carry 175 yards or so from the championship tees just to make it over the water. Accuracy is also required; there is some bailout room to the left, but thickets hem both sides of the fairway on its uphill approach to the green. Once you’ve safely hit your drive, you can relax and enjoy Stonebrooke’s signature experience: a ferry ride, carts and all, from the tees to the fairway.
Course Superintendent Duane Slaughter really does a phenomenal job of maintenance, particularly on the greens, which are big, fast, sloping and true – veritable funhouses to roll the ball on. Since most greens are large, it isn’t too frustrating or difficult to hit them, but don’t necessarily expect an easy two- or even three-putt once on the putting surface. A typical green has a flatter no-man’s-land area where less ambitious approaches land, which will then require a putt through some sort of break – ridges, swales, knolls, and the like are all well-represented here – to pins that rarely reside on a flat surface. Still, if you’re accustomed to public tracks, you will sincerely appreciate putting an entire round without the skipping, bouncing or other inconsistencies that plague less well-cared-for greens.
To sum it up, Stonebrooke should be looked to as a standard-bearer for Twin Cities’ public courses, and its design and execution makes it feel like something…more. By the way, stop in to the clubhouse after the round to experience Shakopee’s Best Brunch!
Cons: If you’ve found a trouble spot, you probably won’t be seeing that ball again, so be sure to pack an extra sleeve or two for this round.
Pros: Scenic imagery, imaginative design, excellent upkeep, neat signature-hole experience.