Archive for HJ Sports

THE STREAK CONTINUES: Depth proves big as Royals top No. 6 New London-Spicer

WATERTOWN – One of the most impressive winning streaks in Minnesota high school sports history was on the line for the Watertown-Mayer/Mound Westonka gymnastics team when they hosted New London-Spicer. The Wildcats were the No. 6 ranked team in Class A. The Royals came in wounded and shorthanded.

That didn’t seem to matter for W-M/MW as their depth came through in a big way in big spots as the Royals picked up an impressive win posting a team score of 139.625. NL-S finished with a team score of 135.450.

The win for the Royals pushed their incredible dual meet streak to 110. The winning streak for W-M/MW dates back to 2012.

“It was an unbelievable meet,” Royals coach Steve Hangartner said. “We were not favored and our streak of 109 wins in a row dating back was in jeopardy.”

The Royals came into the dual anything but healthy. Payton Hecksel was still sidelined with an injury and even the girls competing were not at 100 percent. On top of that, Hangartner found out he would be without another athlete the day of the meet due to illness.

“We had a couple of girls out so we were really limping into the meet on one leg,” Hangartner said “I knew we still had a chance to upset them if we were to have the meet of our life. Then I got a call from one of my parents who said their daughter was ill and she wouldn’t make it to the meet. She was an all-arounder, so then I knew we were really in trouble.”

With not many options left, Hangartner turned to his young talent. The Royals had four eighth graders step into big spots and they didn’t miss a beat. Helle Anthony delivered her highest score even on bars to give the team a spark.

On beam, it was Kallie Jackson’s turn to step up. The eighth grader posted a score of 8.80 on beam for the Royals which was good enough for fifth place overall.

“Kallie really stepped up and scored over a point higher than her average,” Hangartner said. “That really lifted the team.”

After a pair of eighth graders steadied the ship for the Royals, the veterans delivered as well. Reagan Kelley posted an impressive score of 9.60 on beam while Maggie McCabe took second with a score of 9.175. W-M/MW closed things out on floor where they claimed three of the top four spots. Grace McCabe posted her personal-best score on floor with a score of 8.725 and the Royals ran away with things as Kelley and Maggie McCabe took the top two spots on floor as well.

Kelley also won the all-around title finishing with a total score of 38.400.

It was a big win for the Royals who have kept on getting better and better as the season has progressed. With the section meet around the corner, W-M/MW will be looking for this meet to really get them going as they look to get back to the Class A state meet to defend their title once again.

“My wife and I were so excited we couldn’t fall asleep until about 2 a.m. because we were so wound up,” Hangartner said. “This was a great meet to propel us to get ready for the section meet coming up.”

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter – @Kovar_HJSports

PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: HLWW catches fire in win over Rockford

HOWARD LAKE – The past weekend for the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted boys basketball team was a disappointing one. They didn’t let that carry over into a new week as the Lakers got back into the win column in a big way picking up an impressive 76-53 win over the Rockford Rockets Tuesday night.

“We talked all week about being persistent and being resilient,” HLWW coach James Carr said. “We know teams are going to go on runs and we need to be able to weather the storm. Tonight it was good for us to see because they kept coming. We were able to get some key stops when we needed them.”

Along with getting key stops throughout the second half, HLWW shot lights out from 3-point range. In the second half alone, the Lakers knocked down seven 3-pointers as a team to break open a tight game.

“It comes out of confidence, Carr said about the hot shooting. “Our guys are really confident right now shooting the ball. The guys are great at knowing who is feeling it that night and feeding guys when they are open. Good things happen when we get downhill and kick out to our shooters.”

“We have a lot of great shooters on our team,” Cole Gilbert added. “It was a big rebound for us. It was important we came out with some fire tonight and we did that. After two losses, it was big to get back into the win column.”

Gilbert finished with a game-high 28 points in the win for the Lakers, 17 of which came in the second half. Cody Stapel also had a big game with 20 points while Drystin Green (11 points) and Alex Zimmerman (10 points) were also in double figures for HLWW.

“We’re trying to make it an equal opportunity offense,” Carr said. “Anyone of our guys can get buckets for us any night. They’re buying into that and because of it, they are playing with such confidence. We just need to keep that going.”

While the hot shooting and timely defensive stops were big parts of the win, HLWW put together one of their most complete games of the season by playing together and not letting one or two bad possessions carry into more throughout the game.

“We talk a lot about being able to reset when things don’t go right,” Carr said. “We know it’s a long game so we stay focused on what we have to do. The last play is history and we move on to the next play. The guys are doing a really good job of that.”

The schedule doesn’t get any easier going forward for the Lakers as conference play heats up this month. HLWW is back in action Thursday against Watertown-Mayer, the lone undefeated team in the conference left and a Top 10 team in Class AA.

“This conference is a battle every single night,” Carr said. “We know going into the postseason, we’re going to be battle tested. It’s going to be good for us to get games like this under our belt so we can go into the postseason feeling like we’re going in the right direction.”

PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL: HLWW’s comeback comes up just short against Rockford

HOWARD LAKE – It hasn’t been the best season at times for the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted girls basketball team this year. You wouldn’t know that watching them play.

Despite just two wins on the season so far and in the midst of a five-game losing streak, the Lakers continued to compete. Even after a tough first half in which HLWW had just two made field goals, they gave the Rockford Rockets all they could handle in the second half but the comeback came up just short in a 41-34 loss Tuesday night.

“We were stuck at one forever,” HLWW coach Drew Waldbillig said. “We couldn’t buy a bucket. Shots didn’t fall but that was some great defense by the girls. They were nonstop all game. We stopped the bleeding but we just didn’t hit our shots right away.”

The Lakers went nearly nine minutes without a field goal to start the game and finished with two made field goals in the first half as they trailed 24-8 at the break. The second half was a different story as HLWW never gave up.

Ivy Fasching hit a pair of 3-pointers to spark the comeback as the Lakers opened the second half on a 19-4 run to get back within just a single point with just under eight minutes to go.

“In the second half, we were smart with the ball and waited for them to come to us and we had some really good open looks,” Waldbillig said. “That helped build our confidence a bit.”

That’s as close as the Lakers would come though as the Rockets answered with a run of their own. After a seven-minute drought of their own, Rockford used a 9-0 run to push their lead back to double digits and hang on for the win.

With the loss, HLWW’s losing streak pushed to six games and they sit at 2-10 on the season. While wins have been hard to come by so far, the Lakers continued to battle and play together each and every day.

“We had a team Saturday morning where we had little mirrors and we wrote down positive affirmations,” Waldbillig said. “That’s huge for their self-confidence. A lot of the girls are pretty hard on themselves. I think that really brought us together as a team. They were helping each other make them. You could tell at the next practice that they were really gelling together. They are really buying into what we’re talking about as coaches and that’s great to see.”

YEAR IN REVIEW: A look back on the top sports moments for the 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.

Fantastic football season in the area

This past prep football season was one to remember. I had three teams from the coverage area make the state tournament making this year a fun one.

The most interesting part of the season was the fact that both Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted and Watertown-Mayer made the state tournament. Just four years ago, the two were thinking about a potential co-op to save their programs. This year they were both playing on the state’s biggest stage as their own teams. It was so cool to see those kids rewarded for sticking out during the tough times and being rewarded.

It was also a special season for the Lester Prairie football team. Not only did head coach Joe Scoblic record his 200th career win, but the Bulldogs also reached the state tournament for the first time since 2018.

Although their impressive year ended in the Class A state quarterfinals, it was an exciting and fun time to cover Lester Prairie.

W-M gymnastics wins state title

One of the more dominant programs in the state over the past few years in any sport has been the Watertown-Mayer/Mound Westonka gymnastics team. The Royals won their second-straight state title last season along with Reagan Kelley and Anna Mielke finishing first and second as individuals in all-around.

The Royals got off to a slow start at the Class A state meet as a team. It was a blast to see how they bounced back in a big way. W-M had their final rotation on bars, one of the more difficult events. That wasn’t a problem for the Royals as they came together to win their second-straight state title.

It was so cool to see how the team bounced back together after getting off to a tough start. It can be a hard thing for kids to respond on the big stage when things aren’t going well.

Class A state volleyball title game

There are few games in any sport that make you take a step back and think about what you just saw. One of those cases for me was the Class A state volleyball title game between Mayer Lutheran and Minneota.

The only way to describe the match was crazy. After falling behind 2-0, the Crusaders battled back to force what would be an epic fifth set for the state title.

Mayer Lutheran ultimately came up short as the Vikings picked up an 18-16 win in set five to claim the state title in one of the best matches I’ve ever seen.

A lot had to go well for the Crusaders to get back to the state title match for a chance to repeat. With the loss of several key players, the emergence of Danica and Marley Martin was a lot of fun to watch this season. It was also cool to see seniors Stella Maass, Madeline Guetzkow, and Gabby Wachholz step into leadership roles and play their hearts out one last time at the Xcel Energy Center.

W-M baseball wins section title

An item as simple as a Target bag set the tone for the Watertown-Mayer baseball team in 2022.

On the first day of practice, Royals head coach Ryan Trucke and his assistants showed up wanting an answer from their players. Expecting to hear that the ultimate goal for the season would be to make it to state, Trucke and his coaches were surprised by their answers. After each player made it clear the goal would be to win state this year, Trucke and his coaches took out a Target bag to symbolize where their final game of the season would be played – Target Field.

The Royals moved one step close to that goal as they captured the Section 5AA title with an impressive 7-2 win over Glencoe-Silver Lake Thursday. The Panthers were the defending Class AA state champions.

It was cool to see this group accomplish a goal they had since the beginning of the season. It was even more remarkable as the Royals lost one of their best players Wyatt McCabe midway through the season to injury.

“It starts with the seniors,” Trucke said. “They’re completely selfless. They always say whatever role you give me, I’m going to do the best I can and if you need more let me know. All the way through, some guys were playing out of position when Wyatt got hurt and nobody blinked an eye. If you want me to play there, I’ll play there. They’ve been awesome. To them, it’s just about winning. You can’t ask for anything more than that.”

PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL: Fasching’s monster game helps HLWW hold off Lester Prairie

HOWARD LAKE – Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted girls basketball coach Drew Waldbillig looked to his bench and didn’t see many options. The Lakers had just eight players dressed in their matchup with Lester Prairie. One player fouled out and there were four more players with four fouls on the court.

None of that mattered as the Lakers overcame that thanks to a monster performance by senior Ivy Fasching that led HLWW to their first win of the season with a 78-67 win over the Bulldogs Tuesday night.

“We talk a lot about having a short memory,” Waldbillig said. “That was the biggest thing. The girls were so resilient. We had a lot of them in foul trouble but they kept at it. Everybody did a phenomenal job. It was a total team effort.”

The Lakers put a strong first half together to take a nine-point lead into the break but Lester Prairie didn’t go away quietly. Addison Hoof started the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers, and just like that, the Bulldogs were back within three. HLWW never panicked though as they answered back in a big way. A 15-0 run pushed their lead back to double digits.

“It was so great,” Waldbillig said about seeing his team respond. “There have been times this season where we’ve had moments where we think here we go again when teams make a run. Honestly, tonight it didn’t phase them at all and it was very surprising. I’m really proud of them. We talk about attitude and effort. Those are the two things we can control and they did that tonight.”

The Lakers were forced to overcome foul trouble through the second half as well. HLWW had at least four players on the floor with four fouls over the final 12 minutes and only had one player foul out as they came together when they needed to down the stretch.

“It’s a new group that we haven’t really worked with a lot,” Fasching said. “The younger kids are really stepping up. I’m really proud of the other seniors too. They’ve been killing it. It’s our last year so we’ll just fight to the end.”

Fasching came through time and time again in big spots for the Lakers. She finished with a career-high 41 points including knocking down eight 3-pointers in the win.

“I haven’t had the best of games so tonight was really nice,” she said. “When the first one went in, I just kept shooting and shooting. I just wasn’t going to stop.”

Fasching scored 22 of her 41 in the second half helping keep HLWW’s lead in double digits for the second half despite multiple runs by the Bulldogs.

“That was amazing,” Waldbillig said. “Ivy played out of her mind. She’s been waiting for a game like this and I have too. When she’s on, she’s on. I love that she shoots with so much confidence.”

Despite trailing by as many as 18 in the second half, Lester PRairie never rolled over. The Bulldogs closed the gap to 10 with just under three minutes to go but that’s as close as they would get as HLWW had the big answers when they needed them.

“We kind of hung around the second half,” Bulldogs coach Blaine Walstrom said. “We thought we would make that run but it just never happened. It was one of those games where we ran into one girl who had a heck of a night and that changed the game.”

The win for the Lakers is their first win of the after getting out to an 0-4 start.

“This was huge to get our first win before winter break,” Waldbillig said. “We’re excited to try and get two more this week. The biggest thing we talk about is competing.”

Finally,” Fasching said with a smile about getting a win. “It feels like our hard work is paying off. Everything’s coming together as a team. It just feels great and will give us some more energy.”

For the Bulldogs, they fell to 5-1 on the season and the schedule doesn’t get any easier. Lester Prairie has two more big conference games left this week against Norwood Young America and Mayer Lutheran.

“This week is going to be tough,” Walstrom said. “It doesn’t get easier. I think we’re just going to get through this week healthy and do the best we can and go into Christmas break looking to get better.”

For the complete story and more Herald Journal sports coverage, check out the Dec.23 edition of the 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.