Destination Golf

Ideas and inspiration for unforgettable golf trips throughout Minnesota.

Southern Region

When it comes to memorable Minnesota courses, The Jewel Golf Club in Lake City is, well, a “jewel” set amongst the Mississippi River bluffs. Designed by three-time U.S Open Winner Hale Irwin, the course winds through 800 acres of picturesque river valley. According to one review, “The course was in immaculate condition—greens were pristine, fairways were tightly mowed, and the rough was just rough enough. Fantastic layout with some challenging holes and a lot of variety. The overall experience was one of the best I’ve ever had.” The Jewel Golf Club was rated No. 1 in the “Top 10 Public 18-hole Golf Course in Southeast Minnesota” by the Hacker’s Guide—“a matrimonial symbol of the bond between the bluffs and the Mississippi.” 

Accommodations and Attractions: 

Make a weekend of your golf outing and stay at a hotel or motel, resort, or campground on Lake Pepin (stay and play packages are offered at both Willows on the River and John Hall’s Alaskan Lodge). Frontenac State Park, just five miles north of Lake City, offers 14.2 miles of hiking trails, birding (more than 260 species, including migrating swans and eagles), wildflowers, mushroom-hunting, and picnic shelters. While visiting, ride the Pearl of the Lake Paddleboat, visit Pepin Heights—the state’s largest apple orchard, dine at NOSH Restaurant and Bar, or enjoy a pint (and watch for eagles) at Reads Landing Brewing Company, built on the shore of the Mississippi River. 

Jewel Golf Club • 1900 Clubhouse Dr., Lake City, MN 55041  800-738-7714 •

With rolling valleys, frequent elevation changes, and panoramic views of the grasslands, Dacotah Ridge Golf Club in the town of Morton (pop. 400) offers prairieland golf at its finest. Designed by architect Rees Jones to make the most of the landscape, the greens are fast, true, long, and narrow, and with five sets of tees, the course appeals to golfers of all ability levels. The winding Wabasha Creek adds to the beauty of the course (that is, if you don’t consider it a water hazard), as do the bunkers filled with white sugar sand. Golfers flock here from throughout Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Wisconsin. 

Accommodations and Attractions:

Stay and play packages are available at nearby Jackpot Junction Casino. While visiting this part of Minnesota, check out the Birch Coulee Battlefield, the Lower Sioux Agency historic site—the site of the first organized attack of the US-Dakota War of 1862 (self-guided trails take visitors to a restored 1861 warehouse and the Redwood Ferry crossing), Fort Ridgley, and the Harkin Store, a museum/late 1800s-era general store in New Ulm. 

Dacotah Ridge Golf Club • 31042 County Rd. 2, Morton, MN 56270 • 507-697-8050 • 

Metro Area

Whether you’re looking to play a quick nine or a full 18, the Refuge Golf Club in Oak Grove (Anoka County), is a close-to-the-cities-but-feels-like-its-Up-North course worth checking out. It recently made the list of Golf Week’s “Top Five Places to Play in Minnesota,” and for good reason. Set amidst 350 acres of woods and wetlands, the layout includes island-type tee boxes mixed within the wetlands and tree-lined fairways, providing sensational views along the course. According to a Golf Advisor review, “The course’s relative short length is more than made up for by its scenic layout.” (Back plays are less than 6,600 yards.) The layout includes maneuvering through marshland, fast but fair greens, and nicely spaced out holes (unlike some municipal courses, which offer little spacing between adjacent fairways). The Refuge also includes a large practice green, chipping green with practice bunker, full-length driving range, clubhouse, full-service pro shop, restaurant and bar.

Accommodations and Attractions: 

Area attractions include Lake George Regional Park, Rum River Central Park, and historic downtown Anoka. The atmosphere, extensive wine list, and personalized service at Cork Wine Bar & Restaurant, located off Main Street, makes it a local favorite. 

Refuge Golf Club • 21250 Yellowpine St. NW, Oak Grove, MN 55011 • 763-753-8383 •

Designed by renowned golf course architect Arthur Hills, the Chaska Town Course sprawls over 285 acres of oak groves, open prairie, and marshlands. Considered by Golf Digest as a “Top 10 Golf Course in Minnesota,” lush bent grass covers the playing area from tee box to green. According to one review, “This is a beautifully kept course, never a bad shot from the fairway.” Their state-of-the-art console mounted GPS is considered one of the very best in the Twin Cities. The facility includes 18 championship holes, a complete driving range, pro shop, short game practice area, PGA lessons, and on-site bar and grill. Lush bent grass, oak groves, open prairie, and marshlands cover the playing area from tee box to green. 

Accommodations and Attractions: 

For an idyllic retreat, stay at Oak Ridge Hotel & Conference Center on Lake McKnight. Nearby attractions include the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, the Crooked Pint at the new Chaska Curling Center, ENKI Brewing, and live music at Floyd’s Bar in Victoria. 

Chaska Town Course • 3000 Town Course Drive, Chaska, MN 55318 • 952-443-3748 •

Central Area

Recognized by Golf  magazine as a “Must Play in Minnesota,” Thumper Pond golf course, located in Otter Tail County, home to 1,000 Minnesota lakes and streams, can hold its own in terms of scenic beauty. The emerald green course, about a 2.5-hour drive from the Twin Cities, is carved out of 90,000 red pines and water features. According to Andrew Martinson, head golf professional at Thumper Pond Resort, with the amount of trees on the course, “you must keep your shots in play or [the pines] can penalize your score.” The intent was to make the course challenging but fair—it’s narrow, but you can roll shots up to the greens. 

One of the most photographed holes, Martinson says, is the approach shot on 18 over Katie Pond, with the resort in the background. In addition to the championship golf course, Thumper Pond offers a 350-yard practice range, short game area, two putting greens, and golf lessons. Stellar fishing, boating, hiking, biking, and birding round out a “lakes country” getaway. 

Accommodations and Attractions: 

Stay and play packages are available at Thumper Pond Resort, featuring an indoor waterpark, spa, and restaurant/lounge. Other lodging options in the area include resorts, hotels, lake cabins, and bed and breakfast inns. 

Thumper Pond • 300 Thumper Pond Lodge Road, Ottertail, MN 56571 • 1-877-294-7981 •

Beginners and seasoned players appreciate the park-like setting, the good value, and the varying teeing options at the Championship 18 Pebble Creek Golf Club in the town of Becker. “It’s very playable for all skill levels, wide fairways, big greens, very few forced carries, players can run the ball onto the greens, and it’s always in great shape,” says Troy Malo, Pebble Creek director of golf. “Greens are smooth and true, but not too fast to keep them fair for the players.” Fleets of carts have USB ports, too, so update your playlist and bring your iPod and speaker. Another fun way to enjoy the Local 9 at Pebble Creek is playing FootGolf and FlingGolf. FootGolf, a hybrid of soccer and golf, uses a soccer ball along the golf course (bring your own soccer ball), while FlingGolf is a hybrid between lacrosse and golf, requiring a few golf balls and a lightweight Fling Stick, available for rent (no need to carry a heavy golf bag around). The same tee boxes, greens, and cups are used as regular golf; only the ball is advanced in a slightly different manner. “Bring the whole family and an appetite for fun,” Malo says. “You can spend the day on the Local 9 and never get bored.” 

Accommodations and Attractions: 

Area parks, bike trails, and Snuffy’s Landing along the Mississippi are hot summer hangout spots, as is the Sherburne County History Center, Wildlife Refuge, and Albertville Outlet Mall just a short drive down 94. The Crossings Inn and Suites offers a stay and play package in partnership with Pebble Creek. 

Pebble Creek Golf Club • 14000 Clubhouse Lane, Becker, MN 55308 • 763-200-4268 •

Northwest Area

An 18-hole, par 72 course, Tianna Country Club offers a scenic layout located on the edge of the Chippewa National Forest. A staple in the Walker community since 1922, thoughtful course planning has resulted in a golf experience perfect for golfers of all skill levels. It’s not unusual to spot native wildlife hanging out on the course. 

Accommodations and Attractions: 

The Walker area is a popular vacation destination for a few reasons: fishing, fishing, and more fishing. Other fun attractions include the Paul Bunyan Trail, Northern Lights Casino, and year-round festivals and events (MoonDance Jam, featuring Dierks Bentley, Travis Tritt, and Jake Owen among others, is June 17-18 this year.) Tianna Country Club offers specials throughout the year including a Spring Rate Special, Fall Rate Special, and Stay and Play Special in partnership with Chase on the Lake and Country Inn and Suites, as well as preferred lodging at the Trails RV Park. 

Tianna Country Club • 7470 State 34 NW, P.O. Box 177, Walker, MN 56484• 218-547-1712 •

Wildflower Golf Course in Detroit Lakes “has a distinct Prairie Links design, which makes it unique in Minnesota,” explains Laura Hagemeister, general manager. “Open prairie lands and oak-lined fairways make Wildflower an aesthetically pleasing and enjoyable course to play. We hear from golfers of all ages and skill levels that Wildflower is their favorite course, as it challenges them to use each and every club in their bag.”

The course offers five different tees ranging from 5,301 to 7,000 yards. The most photographed hole, says Hagemeister, is number 18 “without a doubt.” She comments, “There’s just something majestic about the view coming into the approach shot. It’s the perfect ending to a memorable round of golf.”

Accommodations and Attractions: 

Wildflower Golf Course is owned and operated by Fair Hills Resort, an all-inclusive resort located just across the road from the course. Detroit Lakes is a short drive away, with mountain biking at Detroit Mountain Rec Area and bird-watching or hiking along a 180-mile stretch of the North Country National Scenic Trail, stretching from Detroit Lakes to the town of Remer. 

Wildflower Golf Course • 19790 Co. Hwy 20, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501 • 888-752-9945 • 218-325-4249 • 

Northeast Area

With majestic trees lining the course, Lake Superior looming in the background, and the Poplar River running right through the landscape, the picturesque views at Superior National Golf Course are worth the drive alone. The nationally recognized course is in the middle of a $4.5 million renovation by golf course architect Jeffrey Brauer, with 18 holes currently in play for the 2016 season. “Our challenge is to make the golf equal to the scenery,” explains Brauer. The changes will give golfers more to think about, more options, and more of a challenge. “The course is narrow now,” Brauer says. “It’s hit it or miss it.” 

Accommodations and Attractions: 

Stay and play packages are available with a number of lodges in the Lutsen/Tofte area, ranging from a 2 to 20-mile drive from the course. In addition to golf, the area is an outdoor recreational paradise, with opportunities for sea kayaking, biking, hiking, and fishing. 

Superior National Golf Course • 5731 Minnesota 61, Tofte, MN 55615 • 218-663-7195 •

Originally a nine-hole golf course completely rebuilt in the 70s, the 18-hole championship Pokegama Golf Course in Grand Rapids features mature trees, bent grass fairways, beautiful views of Pokegama Lake, and greens fees that give new meaning to the term “great golf value.” The course is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. “With wide open holes, it’s hard to go out of bounds,” says regular golfer Craig. “I shot the lowest score of my life here.” Golfers and non-golfers alike agree that the food served in the Pokegama Grill is some of the best in the city. 

Accommodations and Attractions: 

Attractions in the Grand Rapids area include the Grand Rapids Speedway, Judy Garland/Children’s Discovery museum, Gilbert Mansion, and Forest History Center. There’s a wide range of resorts and hotels, ranging from rustic to elegant, for every taste and budget.  

Pokegama Golf Course • 3910 Golf Course Rd., Grand Rapids, MN 55744 • 218-326-3444 • 888-307-3444 •