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.