Archive for DEL Sports

SECTION 2A BOYS HOCKEY: Brown’s big night sends Delano back to section title game

ST. LOUIS PARK – Slow starts have been a common theme for the Delano boys hockey team of late. That script changed in a big way in their Section 2A semifinal matchup with Waconia as the Tigers scored early and often in a 6-1 win over the Wildcats Tuesday night.

“I thought for a majority of the game we were really good,” Delano coach Gerrit van Bergen said. “Overall, it was really good. It was fun to score a little bit because we haven’t been scoring a bunch much.”

“It was pretty fun for the boys to get a big win,” senior Will Brown added. “It’s even more exciting knowing we’re going to be playing again Friday. We’re looking forward to that.”

After scoring just one goal in the first period in their past four games, Delano got things going early. Will Brown opened the scoring off an assist from Brayden Coppin and the floodgates opened after that for Delano. Cooper Nielsen and Teague Collings each added goals just seconds apart as the Tigers took a 3-0 lead into the first intermission.

“It was huge to get ahead early, especially against a team that looked hot coming in,” Brown said. “They upset a team that we lost to so it was pretty big to get ahead early and put them away.”

Despite a three-goal lead entering the second period, Delano knew they needed to stay aggressive as Waconia came out of the break firing.

“I thought our end of the first period was terrible,” van Bergen said. “The message was we were up by three and that we can’t stop competing. We can’t stop playing to our identity and they knew that. They knew they didn’t do that and that’s what is great about this group. They’re really honest and really humble. When we’re hard on them, they respond because they want to be better. That’s what’s fun about this group.”

The Wildcats had a few good looks early on as they came out with some extra energy but Brown quickly silenced them with his second goal of the game to make it 4-0 Delano.

“I thought we got back to our identity really quick,” van Bergen said. “That doesn’t mean we were super smooth, but we were more physical and simple with things and communicated and worked harder. Even though they had a little buzz going early, we had no sense of panic because we knew we were already playing better.”

Waconia would get on the board midway through the second period but it was Brown who once again had the answer with his third goal of the game to put the Tigers back up by four.

“I’m super tough on Will,” van Bergen said. “I’ve known him since the day he was born. He’s a guy that we need to score and he knows that. Getting him to the middle of the ice without the puck so we could get him the puck was really big tonight. He’s such a valuable piece of this team.”

Teague Collings and Aaron Lewis also played a big role in the win. Both are guys who have been playing well as of late for the Tigers and success is coming along with that.

“Teague and Aaron have really been good too,” van Bergen said. “Teague has been on an absolute tear. Aaron just played his game. He’s huge and just goes straight forward and when he does that where he plays on top of the puck, there’s only one guy I know who can compete with him.”

Despite a 13-12 record during the regular season, Delano finds themselves playing for a section title once again. It’s the fifth season in a row the Tigers will play for a trip to state and they don’t care what their record looks like because they know it’s helped them get to where they are at.

“We tried to put together the most challenging schedule we could,” van Bergen said. “Our schedule is filled with teams who are in the top 20 across the state. That’s who we want to be. We’re hoping we’re taking steps toward that. We knew going in it was going to be hard to have a good-looking record because of who was on our schedule and that was OK with us. Although it’s not easy at the moment, I think this group likes what it represents. We wanted to challenge them. We play those games so when it comes to crunch time, it’s not the first time you’re under pressure in a big game.”

“The schedule we play is tough,” Brown added. “We assembled that for good reason. We want to be challenged during the year and I hope it pays off here down the stretch.”

Over the years of success for Delano, they’ve had a history of changing previous outcomes in the postseason. Over the past three seasons, The Tigers are 3-1 against teams they lost to in the regular season and then played again in the postseason including a double-overtime thriller against Orono last season. Delano will be looking for that trend to continue as they’re set to face off with rival Orono in the section championship.

“I think what we’ve done, and we’re really intentional about it, is that we don’t push a certain identity until it’s time,” van Bergen said. “A lot of times that identity comes really late. We thought we had an idea of what our identity would be early and we were wrong. We had to make adjustments. In my experience, it’s easy to get a team to peak early but it’s really hard to get a team to peak at the right time. We don’t worry about our identity early on. I don’t think the style we’re playing right now is what we thought it would be earlier this season. They’re really starting to like that identity because they’re starting to feel success. That’s what I hope is the difference for us. We’re going to work hard the next two days in practice and we’ll take a run at them.”

The Tigers will be playing for the section title for a fifth-straight season. They are 3-1 in the previous four section championship games and looking for their first state tournament appearance since 2021 after finishing as runner-ups last year. They’ll face off against Orono in the Section 2A championship game Friday night at the St. Louis Park Rec Center at 7 p.m. The Spartans defeated Delano 5-1 earlier this season.

“It’s my fourth time in four years playing in a section final,” Brown said. “It’s really cool for our team. It’s super fun to play in these kinds of games and it’s got a big energy level. It’s going to be great going against our rival and should be a lot of fun.”

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter – @Kovar_HJSports

AMATEUR BASEBALL: 2023 Amateur State Baseball Tournament poised to be an exciting one

When the state tournament for amateur baseball comes around this summer, it’s going to be a special one. The Minnesota Baseball Association will be celebrating its 100th state tournament this year and four of the top ballparks in the entire state are already eager and excited to bring fans to enjoy games.

This year’s tournament will have games played at Delano Municipal Baseball Stadium, Saints Field in Dassel, and Optimist Park in Litchfield. Lions Field in Waconia will also host some of the Class B/A games over the first weekend as well.

Delano and Dassel-Cokato are no strangers to hosting the state tournament. Delano hosted the 2019 state tournament along with Maple Lake and D-C as the third site. Litchfield and D-C combined to host the 2016 state tournament.

All three organizations have already proven they know what it takes to pull off running a state tournament. They’ll have their biggest test yet though as they are ready for the challenge of hosting the 100th tournament in MBA history.

“With it being the 100th anniversary, it’s a big deal for everyone,” D-C’s Jordan Flick said. “We’ve hosted a few other times and I think we’re pretty well prepared for doing this one. We’re really excited about it. There’s a pretty big buzz going around. We’re super excited to host and we’re elated at the opportunity.”

The experience of hosting a big tournament is there for Delano and Dassel-Cokato, but for Litchfield, they are looking to make a name for themselves when it comes to hosting the big show.

“It means the world to us as a group,” Litchfield’s John Anderson said. “Being a location that hasn’t hosted a ton of tournaments in the past, it’s nice to be a part of it. 2016 really gave us a solid boost being the third site and showed us what it really takes to elevate ourselves to be in the conversion to host this one. There are so many awesome fields and parks across the state. To be able to partner with juggernauts like Dassel and Delano, it’s awesome. They have so much experience. The excitement is really high.”

Litchfield as an organization has put a ton of time and effort into their park. The Blues were part of the 2016 state tournament along with D-C and Hutchinson and also hosted the Region 12C Tournament this past summer. Fans can expect a new look to Optimist Park when they come to the state tournament as they’ve been hard at work improving the park over the past few seasons.

“The amount of upgrades has been pretty crazy,” Anderson said. “What we’ve been able to do the past five or six years is incredible. The big project was our covered grandstand. The first thing fans will notice is that pretty new grandstand. It’s a sight to see compared to what we used to have.”

Other new updates at Optimist Park include new netting around the field, a new sound system, changing the backstop from fence to stone, extended dugouts, extra room outside of the field, and improved bullpens. Optimist Park will also feature new seats under the grandstand that will be installed in June.

“The amount of work all three sites have put in is really impressive,” Anderson said. “We’ve really utilized the experience and knowledge from everybody. We’re excited for the teams that will be there and the fans as well as our community. We just want to make our experience better at the park. We recognize there are a lot of great parks and we always say why can’t that be us? That’s our motivation. A lot of these communities have really great fan bases that can enjoy it. That’s what we want and that’s what kind of pushes us.”

Lithcifeld will get a chance to show off Optimist Park to the state ahead of the state tournament as Fox 9 will be on-site for their annual Town Ball Tour Wednesday, June 28.

“We’ll really be able to showcase what we’ve done in the past two or three years,” Anderson said about Fox 9 coming to town. “That’s going to be that lead-up for us. Getting the local community involved and their support is important to us. These kinds of tournaments don’t run themselves and we need as many volunteers and support as possible. It’s perfect timing for us and it’s going to mix in well with the build-up we have going.”

The focus over the years for Litchfield has been on hosting this tournament, something they haven’t taken for granted or lightly.

“We’ve been listening to what people have had to say,” Anderson said. “Luckily we’ve been put in a place where we can respond and do many of those things. We wanted to put that all together to make it a better experience for the fans and players. We are just loaded up with projects and it’s all in preparation for this tournament. I told our board that every decision we make is with the state tournament in mind. Every decision we’ve made has been leading to this state tournament.”

While Litchfield is looking to emerge as one of the premier sites in amateur baseball, Delano and Dassel-Cokato have been at the top of the best ballparks for many years for most people.

“We take a lot of pride in our parks,” Flick said. “There’s been lists out there ranking all the parks. All I can say is we’re fortunate we have people who are really dedicated to upkeep on the park and making sure the playing conditions are tight. We have a very loyal fan base and volunteers that help with big events. We can’t thank them enough for the work that they do. It sounds cliche, but it really does take a village to put on a tournament like this. Our volunteers are great.”

For Saints Field in Dassel, many of their big projects and improvements came ahead of them hosting the state tournament in 2016. One of the top parks in the state, D-C hasn’t rested on its laurels as they continue to find ways to improve the player and fan experience.

“We had a lot of major upgrades to the park since we hosted in 2016,” Flick said. “We’re working on some more seating now. On the field itself, we’ve replaced some of the chain link fences in foul territory with really cool wooden boards that kind of give it a Field of Dreams-type feel. We also made a full turf warning track and it’s a little bit more reliable and less upkeep there that boards the outside of the field.”

Delano has also continued to work on improvements at their field as well. Last year a new deck was added outside of the left field and right field fences giving fans an entirely new and unique way to take in a game.

“We’re trying to leave no stone unturned,” Ryan Hayes said about preparing for the state tournament. “We’re always looking to up the ante. Some of the stuff is a little bit easier but we’re always trying to add more events and attractions between games. You’re always looking for volunteers and now we’re headed back to some of the same companies for advertising just a couple of years later. I would say preparing will be a lot of the same we’ve done but with a little extra on the marketing aspect of it.”

A big part of the focus for Delano and the other hosts for this tournament is getting new fans into the parks.

“We’re really trying to get those people who don’t know much about the game out,” Hayes said. “That’s kind of the key. We know who’s going to come out already and it’s all about how we can get other demographics out to the park and show them that this is a fun atmosphere that you need to be a part of.”

This upcoming tournament will be a special one for Hayes. Although he’s helped out in ways with some of the previous tournaments, being able to host the 100th anniversary means a lot to him because of how much townball has been a part of his life.

“For somebody who’s grown up with it, it means a lot to me,” he said. “Growing up, most people want to be a major league baseball player. I wanted to play town team baseball. I grew up in Maple Plain and my grandparents would take me to games every Sunday after church. It was always town ball. It was always so cool as a kid. In 1997 I was chasing foul balls at that tournament and now I’ve helped out with the last two we’ve hosted. This is super special to me. It’s really cool being in my 30s and seeing how far it has come.”

One aspect that Delano, D-C, and Litchfield all take pride in is having the North Star League be the center of this year’s state tournament. All three have been working tirelessly over the past few years and are excited to share what they have in store including the late addition of Lions Field in Waconia.

“It’s special for our teams and it’s special for our league,” Flick said. “We love our partners. They have great sites and were also really happy Waconia is there to help us out.

“We just jumped all in with them,” Hayes added. “Everyone was on board. They’ve been very easy to work with and we know what they’re capable of doing. Waconia kind of speaks for itself. That was a pretty easy choice to have them come on board as well.”

While all three sites have been working nonstop to pull off the tournament, the Minnesota Baseball Association as a whole has been too. The MBA has continued to find ways to make the tournament even better which is something that hasn’t been unnoticed by the hosts.

“That group is so open-minded about things,” Hayes said. “You can call them up anytime you want and they’re just very approachable. It’s been very helpful to be in contact with them when they have an open-door policy. They want to go down all those alleys too and at least see what the possibilities are. That’s always great to see.”

“It makes it really feel big time,” Flick added. “We love working with the MBA and the state board. They’re super flexible about working with us and helping us if we need anything. You can tell how dedicated they are to growing this as much as possible.”

The 2023 amateur baseball state tournament gets underway Friday, Aug. 18 at all four sites. For more information about the tournament or to volunteer, check out www.mbastate2023.com or contact any of the organizations.

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter – @Kovar_HJSports

PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: Holy Family heats up late in win over Delano

VICTORIA – Delano boys basketball coach Terry Techam has seen a lot over his high school coaching career. He experienced something new this time as his Tigers hit the road for a Wright County Conference East matchup with Holy Family.

Delano had a tall task ahead of them taking on the Fire, one of the top teams in the state regardless of class. Despite a strong first half in which they led the entire way, Holy Family turned up the heat in the second half in a 66-43 win over the Tigers Friday night.

“I’ve been in high school basketball for nearly 30 years,” Delano coach Terry Techam said. “I don’t ever remember having a time where I had to prepare for playing against two very talented 7-footers.”

Delano, a team who loves to get out in transition and push the pace, came into the game with a new game plan and executed it to perfection to take a 28-21 lead into halftime. The Tigers slowed things down and controlled the tempo of the game but were unable to continue that in the second half.

Changing from their pressure zone, Holy Family switched to a man-to-man defense and sped up the Tigers to change the momentum. The Fire opened the second half on a big run including knocking down three 3-pointers in less than a minute to break things open. In the second half alone, Holy Family outscored Delano 45-15.

“I’m very proud of how we played,” Techam said. “I thought we competed well and played really well in the first half. We got them out of their zone and then they went man, we really struggled to score.”

Despite the loss, Techam learned a lot about his team. Sophomore JJ Longstreet entered the starting lineup while freshman Max Iversen (one of the team’s leading scorers) saw his minutes take a big hit as Delano slowed down the pace throughout the first half.

“We usually want to go up and down and we want the shot clock,” Techam said. “We want to play fast. We decided tonight that if we play fast, it just multiplies how many times we have to stop them which gets tough. Our best offensive lineup features three guys under 5-foot-10 which makes it tough to guard a team that has five guys 6-foot-2 and over.”

The change in the lineup and the rotation didn’t bother the team. Techam has his guys buying in where all they care about is winning.

“That’s what is fun about this team,” he said. “They’re all about the team. That’s one of the joys of coaching this team. Our slogan is we over me. It can be just a saying to some but our team really believes in that.”

Holy Family remains atop the WCC East standings with a record of 4-0 in conference play. Delano fell to 2-2 in the conference with the loss and sits at 13-6 overall.

YEAR IN REVIEW: A look back on the top sports moments for Delano Herald Journal coverage area

What a year 2022 was across the board in area sports. There was so much going on that I honestly feel like I only got to cover or experience a tiny bit of it.

To be honest, the 2022 coverage season was an absolute grind. Covering six schools and an endless amount of events really takes a toll on a guy. Between running to all the events, writing stories and taking photos, editing stories, and doing the layout for the newspaper, it was a long year for me to say the least.

At this time of year, things tend to slow down a bit here in the sports world due to the holidays. Each year around this time I take the time to look back on the past year of coverage. This year was a bit more fun to look back on all the things I covered. Usually, once I finish a week of coverage, there’s not much time to dwell on it. It’s moving on to next week so I often forget some of the stories or moments I’ve covered.

I want to thank everyone for following along with this exciting year of sports coverage and I hope you continue to do so in 2023. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the top sports moments from the coverage area in the past year.

Avery Lommel’s journey to a state title

It was by far my favorite story of the year to tell. There’s something special about a high school athlete overcoming adversity and making the most of things. That’s exactly what Delano senior Avery Lommel did for the Tigers this fall.

After losing sight in one eye, Lommel didn’t sit and feel sorry for herself. Instead, she worked even harder so that he could get back to the sport she loved. It paid off in a big way.

Not only did Lommel make it to the Class A state swim and dive tournament, but she also won the state title to cap off her inspirational story.

For those that know me or have followed my work over the years, there’s always one message I share. It’s more than a game. Lommel and her journey are a testament to that and it was an absolute blast and honor to cover her this past season and see how she turned adversity into inspiration for not only her but everyone who knows her.

Delano volleyball makes a magical run

All season long covering the Delano volleyball I knew there was a lot of talent and if they came together they could make a run at things. I just wasn’t sure if it would come together at the right time. Spoiler alert. It did.

I know the Tigers feel they came up short this season but the moments they provided in those final two matches against New Prague and Benilde-St. Margaret’s were some of the best I’ve ever seen in any sport. I’ll never forget those matches, especially the fifth set against the Trojans that sent them to the Section 6AA title game.

The section championship game didn’t disappoint either. Although Delano came up just short, it was an incredible match and atmosphere and one those players should remember forever. As a journalist, you’re supposed to remain as neutral as possible but there was no doubt I wanted to see Delano cap off their run with a section title. I played the what-if game throughout the state tournament wondering what could have been for the Tigers as I saw B-SM reach the state title match. Regardless, the run by the Tigers was one of my favorite moments I’ve ever covered.

The dominance of Delano softball

One of the best parts of covering high school sports is getting the variety of sports to mix things up. Being able to cover really good teams is also a huge plus.

One of the really good teams I covered this past year was Delano softball. No matter who they play, the Tigers hit the cover off the ball and it was a blast to watch.

Like the volleyball team, Delano’s season came to an end in the section championship game. While driving to the game I had a feeling the Tigers would be playing two games and breaking through against B-SM. It wasn’t meant to be but that team and the way they play the game was so much fun to watch over the course of the season.

Toby Hanson’s walk-off in Class C quarterfinals

The amateur baseball beat is one of my favorite things to cover. A lot of time, hours, and energy go into it but it’s all worth it.

After making several trips down to Faribault and Dundas for the Class C state tournament, there wasn’t a bigger moment for my coverage area than what Toby Hanson did for the Delano A’s.

Taking on one of the favorites (St. Patrick), Delano pulled off one of the most exciting finishes of the tournament. In the bottom of the ninth, Hanson delivered a walk-off home run to send the A’s to the Class C semifinals.

It was an absolute no-doubter for Hanson and a perfect way to cap off an incredible game between powerhouse programs. It was one of the games you’ll remember forever and one I’m glad I got to see and cover firsthand.

Loretto’s marathon with Bird Island

Continuing with the amateur coverage beat, the matchup between Loretto and Bird Island is a story all in itself. It’s a game I wish I was physically at.

I remember leaving Waconia and seeing that Loretto and Bird Island were still playing. They were about to head into extra innings as I turned them on. About five or six innings later, I thought about making the drive down in case things continued. I ultimately decided not to but looking back I wish I did.

The Larks and Bullfrogs ended up playing the longest game in state tournament history – 22 innings. I watched every single pitch over the final 13 innings. I ended up going to bed around 2 a.m. and then got up to work at the golf course at 5 a.m. Totally worth it.

An incredible game and an incredible part of what was an awesome tournament this year for the Minnesota Baseball Association.

Delano dance gets back to state

I’ll be the first to admit I know next to nothing about what it takes to be good at dance or what goes into dance. What I do know is the pure joy Delano showed as a team and individuals make it back to the state tournament last season.

A lot of time and hard work were put in by the coaches and athletes last season. It was fun to see their hard work pay off by competing on the state’s biggest stage. It was also a lot of fun to knock off a state tournament that I haven’t covered before.

 

PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: Delano holds off Waconia for fourth-straight win

WACONIA – When the Delano Tigers and Waconia Wildcats square off, you can bet you’ll be in for a battle. The Delano boys basketball team knew that full well as they held off the Wildcats in a game filled with runs for an impressive 87-61 win on the road Tuesday night.

“That’s probably how we’re going to play this year,” Delano coach Terry Techam said. “When you play an up-tempo style like that, you have stretches where you score quickly and you have stretches where you don’t score. It was an up-and-down game, but that’s kind of the way I expect us to play this season.”

Delano came out swinging as they were knocking down shots early. The Tigers had five different players knock down at least one 3-pointer in the first half helping them take a 44-31 lead into halftime.

Despite Delano clicking on all cylinders early, Waconia fought back. A 14-point lead for the Tigers was trimmed to six with just over 11 minutes left but Delano never panicked.

“We’ve talked a lot about that,” Techam said about staying poised. “With the way we play this year, we can’t really worry about everything that goes on. We just have to be in that aggressive mode on both ends of the floor.”

With the Wildcats clawing their way back into things, Will Strandemo stepped up his game in a big way for the Tigers. The junior scored 10 straight points for Delano to push the lead back to 13 with just over seven minutes left to play.

“Will can just all of a sudden sometimes go on a streak to carry you,” Techam said. “I’ve coached for a long time. I haven’t seen many kids with a better pull-up jump shot than him.”

Delano sealed the game at the free throw line down the stretch going 8-for-9 from the free throw line down the stretch to pick up their fourth win in a row and possibly their best win of the season thus far.

“This was probably the best we’ve played all season,” Techam said. ‘We’ll see if we can keep it going.”

The Tigers may not have a ton of experience this year but things have been clicking early on. Guys are buying into their roles and it’s paying off as they’ve won four straight games since dropping their season opener at the buzzer.

“Other than Will and Jackson, pretty much everybody is in different roles or just getting their varsity experience,” Techam said. “That first game you could see some of that varsity jitters out there. I think we’re starting to see guys get into their roles.”

For the complete story and more Delano Herald Journal sports coverage, check out the Dec.16 edition of the Delano Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information.  Subscribers have full access to this article and more by clicking here. Subscriptions start as low as $1.50 for a two-day subscription, the same price as a newspaper on a newsstand.

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports

KOVAR: A look at my Minnesota Dream 18 golf course

It appears the 2022 golf season in Minnesota has come to an end for good. It was a good run for golfers around the state as we once again had great weather late in October and even into November for a bit.

On a personal note, the 2022 season for me was a fun one. Of course, I didn’t get to play as much as I wanted to (I’m sure that’s the case for everyone) I had a lot of fun this season while posting a wide range of scores. Playing new courses was one of my biggest goals this year and I think I accomplished just that. During the season, I played a round at nine new courses, some of which I never thought I would get the chance to. I got the chance to play TPC Twin Cities as part of the 3M Open festivities. I was lucky enough to play a few private courses such as Olympic Hills and Bent Creek. To top that off, I still got a few rounds in at some of my favorite courses around the area.

In the middle of the summer, I had the idea of putting together a Dream 18-hole course featuring some of my favorite holes I’ve played across the state of Minnesota. That’s what this column will be about.

To start, I came up with some rules. I didn’t want to include private courses because I wanted to feature holes across the area and state that most people would get the chance to play. I also wanted all 18 holes to add up to be a Par 72 course and I had to have played the course at least once in my life. I also decided to leave out resort courses as there certainly would be many of them on the list but it’s hard to judge and remember those if you’ve only played once or twice.

With the rules set, let’s hit the first tee and see where we’re headed.

Kip’s Dream 18 (Hole 1)

Baker National Golf Course ~ Medina (Hole 1 – Par 4)

This might be one of the best opening holes in all of golf in Minnesota. An awesome Par 4 to get you started and welcome you into the course. Of course, anyone who has played this knows about the red barn that sits right of the green. That added aesthetic along with a fun hole on a great course is the perfect start to any round of golf.

Kip’s Dream 18 (Hole 2)

Albion Ridges Golf Course ~ Annandale (Hole No. 2 Boulder – Par 5)

One of my favorite courses around the area is Albion Ridges Golf Course. A big reason I love playing there is the fact there are 27 holes of golf available. That means each time you play there you can assure it’s going to be a different round of golf. Albion Ridges is always in great condition, the pace of play has never been a problem, and in my opinion, it’s one of the best values in the area.

Out of the three sets of nine holes, Boulder is my favorite and the second hole is a beauty. The first Par 5 of the nine is a fun one in which your second shot will be tested. Long hitters can go for the green but missing could prove costly.

It’s a fun hole early in your round and a good birdie chance if you’re striking it well as it’s a long hole from the back tees. A creek cuts in front of the green about 100 yards in front making going for it in two a risk/reward. There’s also a pond on the right side with a large stack of boulders giving these nine holes its name.

Kip’s Dream 18 (Hole 3)

Chaska Town Course ~ Chaska (Hole 3 – Par 4)

As you read more into this column you’ll find a common theme for me when it comes to Par 4s. I love a good Par 4 that makes you think off the tee and it’s not just pulling out your driver and swing away.

The third hole at Chaska Par 4 is just that. An interesting and quirky hole, there’s more than one way to attack this hole.

The safe play is to hit a mid-iron right of the big tree standing in the middle of the fairway to have a good look into the green. You could do that or try to fit the gap between the trees on the left and the big tree in the middle. No matter which way you end up playing it, it’s a fun hole that can be played in a variety of ways with different results. A true risk/reward hole.

Kip’s Dream 18 (Hole 4)

Legends Golf Club ~ Prior Lake (Hole 13 – Par 3)

It’s time for the first Par 3 of the round and it’s not an easy one. As soon as one steps up to the tee box, the 13th Hole at Legends Golf Club is an imitating one. You must carry a large pond to a green surrounded by trouble as well. When playing better hope it’s not windy as the hole sits in one of the more open parts of the course as well.

Long is no good. Right is no good. Left is not good either. It takes a great shot to get out with a par. It’s one of those holes where when you step up to the tee box you tell your playing partners you’ll take a four right now if they give it to you.

Kip’s Dream 18 (Hole 5)

Meadows at Mystic Lake ~ Prior Lake (Hole 4 – Par 4)

There is a lot of good golf in the Prior Lake area and the Meadows at Mystic Lake are a big part of that. A challenging course throughout, the Par 4 4th hole gives golfers a chance to make something happen.

The big hitters can let the driver eat and go for it off the tee. Playing it safe is also a good option to leave an easy shot in.

It’s a fairly easy hole but if you get too aggressive, you could find yourself making an unnecessary bogey. There’s just something about short Par 4s that I love and all the mental challenges that go with it.

Kip’s Dream 18 (Hole 6)

Bluff Creek Golf Course ~ Chanhassen (Hole 12- Par 4)

It’s a hole that you could love when you’re playing well and despise it if you’re not. The 12th hole at Bluff Creek Golf Course takes two really good shots to have a chance at birdie or even par for that matter.

The best play is an iron off the tee that you’re comfortable with. You’ll need to make sure you have a good angle in on your second shot as trees are lining both sides of the green with a ravine sitting in front.

It’s not an easy hole by any means but it’s a unique one. A bogey on this hole is a great score and a par or better is a big bonus.

Kip’s Dream 18 (Hole 7)

Wild Marsh Golf Course ~ Buffalo (Hole 7 – Par 5)

It’s a hole that I don’t think I’ve ever truly played well but still love it. The 7th hole at Wild Marsh Golf Course is a doozy.

Not only does it play 561 yards from the blue tees, but there are also a lot of decisions to be made on how to play it. Going for it in two is an extremely risky play but possible for the long-hitters. The smart play is to lay up on the second shot before the creek and then attack on your third shot. The third shot is not easy either. With little room to miss all around the green, it’s a demanding shot that makes this hole a real change. It’s a hole that you feel good if you have a par putt and you’ll gladly take a bogey.

Kip’s Dream 18 (Hole 8)

ShadowBrooke Golf Course ~ Lester Prairie (Hole 15 – Par 3)

This one is more of a sentimental hole than a great hole. My first round of golf ever was at ShadowBrooke. It was with my father and since I’m left-handed and he is right-handed, the only clubs I had with me were a 7 iron and a putter.

I didn’t play all the holes since I was still new to the game but when we came upon the 15th hole, I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

The hole is a Par 3 where you need to carry a large marsh to get to the green. I remember thinking how cool it would be one day to hit it over the marsh and get one on the green.

Later on in my golf career, I played in a tournament with my dad and owner Tom Schmidt, and his son Tyler. Prizes were being given out to people who hit the greens on Par 3s and sure enough, I hit the green on the 15th hole and got an entry in the drawing. I ended up winning tickets to a Vikings game, making me love that hole even more.

ShadowBrooke is one the more popular courses in the area and it’s a special place for me. The course has come a long way in the last few years as Tom and Tyler have put a lot of time and effort into everything out there. It’s a course that if you haven’t played in a while, give it a chance again as there are great deals pretty much whenever you want to play. Oh, and get a hot dog at the turn. The hot dog is worth playing there for that reason alone.

Kip’s Dream 18 (Hole 9)

Timber Creek Golf Course ~ Watertown (Hole 3 – Par 4)

It seems like a pretty normal Par 4 at first but there’s a unique test ahead. There are two different greens on this hole and they could be switched each time you play. It’s a pretty cool feature you don’t see on too many courses around the area and makes for a fun time.

I think the green on the right makes it a much tougher hole. You’ll need a good tee shot to have an angle in. If you’re playing the left green, your second shot is a bit easier.

I’m all for being able to play the same course but add twists to it. This hole does just that and stands out in my mind.

Kip’s Dream 18 (Hole 10)

Albion Ridges Golf Course ~ Annandale (Boulder No. 1 – Par 4)

Another one of my favorite opening holes in golf. When you play at Albion Ridges, you have the chance to play two different sets of nine holes. My favorite by far is Boulder.

The opening hole of Boulder is a fun one. Just like Baker National has the famous red bard, Albion Ridges has the silo sitting alongside the left side of the fairway. If you want to be aggressive, you can try and go over it or around it and attack the green. If you choose to go straight down the fairway, make sure you choose the right club because drive could be too much for the long hitters.

There are a lot of ways to play this hole and it’s really fun to get your round going or start your back nine depending on where you start.

Kip’s Dream 18 (Hole 11)

Meadows at Mystic Lake ~ Prior Lake (Hole 3 – Par 5)

It’s a hole that when you play for the first time, you’ll want a second chance at it right away. If you’re striking the ball well, it can be a fun hole to put up a nice number. One bad shot and you could be staring at a double bogey or even once.

The tee shot can be a tough one with a skinny fairway and some strategically placed bunkers. Depending on where your tee shot ended up, the safe play for the second shot is to lay up in front of the pond/creek that cuts in front of the fairway. After laying up, you should have an easy wedge in to attack a not-so-easy green depending on where the pin is.

Kip’s Dream 18 (Hole 12)

Ridges at Sand Creek ~ Jordan (Hole 13 – Par 4)

I finally got the chance to play this course for the first time this summer and it was a blast. After seeing some of the best golfers in the state for high school play there for the state tournament a bunch of times, I wanted to take a crack at it myself.

The Par 4 13th hole was one of my favorites on the course. A tough tee shot where you’re forced to carry it over Sand Creek but keep it short of trouble in front of the green. With two good shots, you could have a nice look at birdie. Just one bad shot though and this hole could get away from you quickly.

Kip’s Dream 18 (Hole 13)

Chaska Town Course (Hole 10 – Par 4)

The 10th hole at Chaska Town Course is a really fun hole to get your back nine going. The 9th hole sits adjacent to the 10th giving golfers a chance to really go for it with the drive. I’ve only played this course a couple of times, but both times I’ve found myself on the edge of the 9th fairway. Even from over there, you have a shot at the green if you get the ball over the trees but it’s not an easy green to make the putt for birdie if you’re able to get it on.

Kip’s Dream 18 (Hole 14)

Albion Ridges Golf Course (Hole 17 – Par 3)

My favorite Par 3 at Albion Ridges Golf Course regardless of which nine you play. An elevated tee box, golfers take aim at a tough green with nothing but trouble in front. If you’re fortunate enough to get on the green, it’s not an easy putt depending on where the pin is. If you miss the green, it takes a really good chip to get up and down for par.

Fun fact – I once hit my tee shot to four feet on this hole and ended up with a double bogey. Don’t ask how but just know it gets brought up every time we play that hole.

Kips’ Dream 18 (Hole 15)

Island View Golf Course ~ Waconia (Hole 13 – Par 4)

The only thing that could make this hole better would be if the trees behind the green and across were knocked down so you had a great view of Lake Waconia coming up to the green. Other than that, the 13th hole at Island View is a fun and challenging Par 4.

Drive is in play but long hitters must be careful. Depending on what yardage you’re comfortable with going into the green, a club other than the driver might be a good choice off the tee.

The pond sticks out early in the hole and jumps back in front of the green later on. It brings water to your mind on both your first and second shots making it a challenging hole that can be scored on if you’re striking the ball well.

Kip’s Dream 18 (Hole 16)

Wild Marsh Golf Course ~ Buffalo (Hole 11 – Par 4)

When stepping up to the 11th hole at Wild Marsh Golf Course, it’s tempting to grab your driver and let it rip. You even have a nice retaining wall for a backstop if need be.

The smart play is to hit an iron and have an easy wedge in. Depending on how your round is going, you can play it safe or just let it fly. If you decide to grab the big stick and go for the green and miss, don’t worry. A neighborhood kid is waiting up there that’s gladly willing to sell your ball back to you. A fun hole and that added memory of asking for my ball back make this hole stick out.

Kip’s Dream 18 (Hole 17)

Legends Golf Club ~ Prior Lake (Hole 17 – Par 3)

This is a fun hole for those playing some games with their fellow foursome. A scorable but tough Par 3 to close out the round, a match can be swayed in one way or the other with just one shot.

I played this course for the first time this year for my 30th birthday. We played a game of Wolf for the round and things got interesting after this hole heading into the final hole of the round.

Kip’s Dream 18 (Hole 18)

Pioneer Creek Golf Course ~ Maple Plain (Hole 18 – Par 5)

A fun way to close a round at a really fun and challenging course. The 18th hole at Pioneer Creek Golf Course is a tough one but it’s really fun at the same time. It runs along the 9th hole so when you’re playing that one you can get a sneak peek at what’s to come later on.

Standing on the 18th green you get a good look at the course you just battled. No matter who you played, it’s a view to take in and relive some of those shots you want back.