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Tartan Park GC: Another option for Twin Cities' East Metro Golfers

Tartan Park GC:  Another option for Twin Cities' East Metro Golfers

For more than 40 years, Tartan Park Golf Course has been one of the more unique private clubs in the Twin Cities. The club, located not far north of Interstate 94 in Lake Elmo, didn’t care what your name was or how much money you had the bank or how connected you were. The only thing that mattered was where you worked.

Owned by 3M, Tartan Park has been reserved for employees and retirees of the company and their guests. That, however, has changed a little bit.

While Tartan Park is still a 27-hole private club, it is now accepting limited public play. While members can make tee times up to two weeks in advance, whatever tee times are available three days in advance can be booked by the general public and golfers don’t need a member to play with.

Standard green fees are $38 for 18 holes. If you want to ride, a half of a cart will run you another $15. There are also discounted rates for seniors and at twilight.

Is it worth a play?

Certainly. Generally I’m a believer that if you have an opportunity to play any Twin Cities private club at a reasonable price, you should jump on it. While the brand-name private clubs in the Twin Cities such as Hazeltine National, Interlachen, Minikahda and the like get much of the attention, the depth of clubs here is impressive. Even a round at some of the most budget-friendly clubs is still a pretty good way to spend part of a day.

About the course?

We played the Blue and White nines, the 18-hole combination that appears to be the most challenging. There is a Red nine that is shorter than the others while featuring less water.

The club was designed by the late Don Herfort, who passed away nearly a year ago.  I wasn’t immediately sure who designed the course as the information isn’t on the scorecard. It only took a couple of holes before we seemed fairly confident that Herfort designed it. Tartan Park, in spots, feels very similar to two other private clubs that he designed: Indian Hills and Dellwood Hills.

The bunkering and use of water – especially in front of games – is similar to Indian Hills. Like Dellwood Hills, there are some very large greens at Tartan Park and golfers need to pay close attention to where the pin is.

In most places there is enough room off of the tee where you don’t feel constricted, but there are some spots where you have to execute your shots.

Holes I liked: There are a number of good holes at Tartan Park. Among my favorites were both of the short par 4s – No. 3 on the Blue and No. 5 on the White. Both are decent risk/reward holes that tease the golfer into believing that driver is the play when something else might be smarter.

The toughest three holes in a row might be No. 9 Blue and then Nos. 1 and 2 on the White. Blue No. 9 is a very solid 419-yard par 4 that is downhill into the green.  White No. 1 is a 396-yard par 4 with water all the way down the left side. Hook it off of the tee and you’re wet. Bail out too far right and you will be blocked out and unable to hit the green in regulation. White No. 2 (423 yards) features an elevated tee and a forced carry into the green. You need to hit two good shots here if you want to make par.

No. 7 White is a nice drop-shot par 3 and a quality hole.

Holes I didn’t like: Two holes really stand out. I’m still not really sure where you are supposed to hit the ball on No. 6 Blue, a 358-yard par 4. If you hit driver, there is really very little real estate available as there is trouble on both sides of the fairway.  Maybe the play is a layup off of the tee, but that will leave a pretty long approach on a short hole. Something just doesn’t fit.

In addition, No. 8 Blue (136 yards) is pretty much a nothing par 3 that doesn’t do much other than get golfers from No. 7 green to No. 9 tee.

General conditioning: The golf course was largely in very good shape. The turf on the fairways was really good. And the greens rolled pretty darn good despite not being fully healed from aeration. There were two large areas of ground under repair on fairways. The first is in the landing area of Blue No. 7, a 534-yard par 5. The other was on our final hole, White No. 9. The last hole, a 505-yard par 5 had a huge area of the fairway roped off. Two of our group’s tee balls ended up in there. It was far from a deal breaker, but it was odd.

In closing: Tartan Park is a fun layout with a number of good holes. It is certainly worth playing if you are considering a “new” option. This isn’t Troy Burne or StoneRidge when it comes to east metro courses, but both of those courses are much more expensive. In terms of courses in the same price range, Tartan Park measures up well. I don’t think it is better than Keller, but it is much better than most public course options in the 651 area code.

To Read More from Jeff visit his golf blog,


all Tartan Park images from:

except clubhouse image from:,r:31,s:0,i:141


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