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Family Vacation at Sugar Lake Lodge


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A few weeks ago, my family traveled to Sugar Lake Lodge in Grand Rapids, Minn. for our annual vacation.

“Oh, you’re going to Ruttger’s,” one friend said in an all-knowing way when I told her about our upcoming adventure.

“You’ve been there?” I asked.

“No, but everyone in the golf community knows about Ruttger’s,” she answered with a shrug.

Since the only golfing I’ve done was at a bachelorette party (and we didn’t keep score), I obviously wasn’t part of the golf community. After staying at Ruttger’s, though, a tiny spark has been ignited. I now want to learn golf. I want to be part of that community.

ballboyNot only did we spend a very fun afternoon at the driving range (my five-year-old even teed up his balls and practiced his swing; my two-year-old was the “ball boy” and took great pride in handing out golf balls upon request “Need anudder one? Ok!”), but we swam in the outdoor heated pool, enjoyed evening cocktails at Otis’s Grill & Bar (and watched as a Sugar Lake employee tried—unsuccessfully—to drive a gaggle of geese off the meticulous 18th hole), played tennis, basketball, and croquet, went on a complimentary pontoon ride, and sat around a bonfire while listening to a joke-telling musician. I spent some time in the tiny fitness room (burning off those s’mores), and really wanted my oldest son to take part in the free Kids’ Kamp, but alas, he had zero interest, especially when he realized he’d be missing out on playing tennis with his uncles. (We met another couple whose daughter absolutely loved Kids’ Kamp. They spoke very, very highly of the camp counselors and organized camp activities.) There were also complimentary canoes, kayaks, rowboats, paddleboats, and bicycles at our disposal—basically everything you could ever want while on vacation.

Our townhouse was spacious and clean (there were 11 of us), the staff was friendly and accommodating, and the crystal-blue lake was really beautiful.

One afternoon we headed into town to visit the Judy Garland Museum. I wish we would’ve had more time to explore, since there is so much to see in the Grand Rapids area.

driving rangeThe highlight of this trip, though, was the time we spent together on the driving range. We laughed and joked and we all had a great time, from the seasoned golfers to the beginners like me. I had been intimated by golf before that. Will I look stupid? Will people laugh at me? Will I be embarrassed? How do I swing? What’s the technique?

As my husband pointed out, “Everyone on the course was a beginner at one point.”

I had never thought of it like that before.

I like the idea that I can learn a new sport at my age, I like that it’s a mental challenge, I like that it’s a great way to spend time outside, and I like that it’s a cross-generational lifelong social activity. 

My goal is to take golf lessons this year, and once I learn, I would love to return to Sugar Lake Lodge and play on Sugarbrooke, the gorgeous 18-hole course. 

What’s a mulligan again?

“Golf! You hit down to make the ball go up. You swing left and the ball goes right. The lowest score wins. And on top of that, the winner buys the drinks.”

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Whether you are a seasoned Twin Cities traveler or planning your first trip to Minnesota, this blog will introduce you to many new adventures to add to your itinerary. From day trips and scenic discoveries to luxurious girls weekends, travel tips, and insider scoops, our editors will give you all the information you need to enjoy your stay Up North.

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