Category Archives: Midwest

Legend at Giants Ridge

The Legend at Giants Ridge in Biwabik, MN

Me, the bigfoot and Greg
Me, the bigfoot and Greg

The Stats

Tee Time: July 18, 2016, 3:00, 72 F, sunny

Designer: Jeffrey Brauer, 1997

Playing Partners: Greg Ryan

Tees: Blue, Par 72 (72.6 rating/132 slope/6,528 yards)

Course Handicap: 7 (6.3 index)

Stats: 92 (46-46); 39 putts; 6/14 fairways; 6/18 greens; 7 penalty strokes

Greg Stats: 109 (55-54); 42 putts; 5/14 fairways; 2/18 greens; 8 penalty strokes

The Course

After a great morning at one of my new favorite courses, The Quarry at Giants Ridge, it was a short, three mile drive up the road to the older course at this resort, the Legend. I’m surprised I had any energy left for this second eighteen after the long weekend. I’m just writing this for me, so in twenty years I can look and wonder how I survived the hectic travel. Friday night, my flight was supposed to land just after midnight in Minneapolis. We were then going to fly the 6:15am flight to Chicago, watch the Cubs-Rangers game, then fly right back that night. So I was already looking at about 4 hours of sleep max on this day. Except the flight out of Phoenix got delayed, and delayed, until we finally touched down at 1:30am local time, and my head hit the pillow shortly before 3am. As fun as traveling to golf is, the constant babysitting of your golf clubs is the only real gripe I have about it. Always paying for them to fly, waiting for them to come out the baggage chute, getting a rental car to fit them. Good thing they are the “loved ones”. So on barely an hour of sleep, we spent a hot Chicago afternoon enjoying the renovated Wrigley Field. Then Sunday we slept in, got to take in a Twins game at the beautiful Target Field (Major League stadium #35 for me) and then drive up to Duluth, followed by an early morning Monday and drive 90 minutes to Biwabik. It all ended up being worth it and I’m glad God invented caffeine to help me survive it.

giants ridge legend hole 17
The scene at the 17th. I believe the drop area is somewhere on that island. Swim to shore!

Continue reading Legend at Giants Ridge

Quarry at Giants Ridge

The Quarry at Giants Ridge in Biwabik, MN

giants ridge quarry graig
Me and Greg in front of the big abandoned mine lake

The Stats

Tee Time: July 18, 2016, 10:00, 72 F, sunny

Designer: Jeffrey Brauer, 2003

Playing Partners: Greg Ryan

Tees: Blue, Par 72 (72.9 rating/132 slope/6,696 yards)

Course Handicap: 7 (6.3 index)

Stats: 88 (44-44); 37 putts; 8/14 fairways; 8/18 greens; 4 penalty strokes

The Course

Last week I was lucky enough to go to the Home Run Derby in San Diego. The one where Giancarlo Stanton hit 61 home runs, topping out at 497 feet. Every time he hit a ball, I could only say “wow”. Each home run just left you speechless, it wasn’t so much a “wow” as a gasp at the crack of the bat. Well, that’s pretty much how my round went at the Quarry at Giants Ridge. Every tee, I was seeing something amazing and awesome. I found myself repeatedly spending an extra moment taking in the surroundings, taking the long route to my next shot, telling Greg how unbelievable this course is. Of course, before we got to start we were given not a primer on the golf course, but a history lesson of the mining and refining past of upper Minnesota. I’m usually fascinated by all this history, especially about the sheer amount of iron and ore they pulled out of these mines (hundreds of millions of tons) in total, a majority of it going toward the country’s World War II effort. But I was also eager to get out and check this course out, so the mining talk kind of washed over me like when Bart tried to listen to the history lesson at the box factory.

giants ridge quarry hole 17
The crystal clear water at 17 is just one of the charming features of this par 3

Continue reading Quarry at Giants Ridge

The Harvester Golf Club

The Harvester in Rhodes, IA

the harvester golf club rhodes iowa
Me and Greg

The Stats

Tee Time: July 6 2014, 12:00, 86F, breezy

Designer: Keith Foster (2000)

Playing Partners: Greg Ryan

Tees: Blue, Par 72 (73.1 rating/132 slope/6,840 yards)

Course Handicap: 9 (7.9 index)

Stats: 91 (42-49); 40 putts; 8/14 fairways; 7/18 greens; 4 penalty strokes


The Course

“Is this heaven?

It’s Iowa.

I could’ve sworn this was heaven.”

I wonder how many sports related posts by sports related blogs talking about something sports-related in Iowa start with that Field of Dreams quote. Well, in the interest of being original, I’ll try something else.

Baseball, Ray…

Oops, wrong sport.

That’s my corn out there. You guys are guests in my corn.

There, that fits.

harvester golf club rhodes iowa hole 17
The 17th green at the edge of Lake Harvester

The Harvester is the unanimous choice across every list published for the best course in Iowa. You’d think, well, it’s Iowa, how many golf courses can they really have? Being named the #1 golf course in Iowa seems like it would be like being the MLB All-Star from the 2014 Padres. You’re only there because someone had to be. I was a little excited to come, because my only other visit to the Hawkeye State was a fun afternoon at the Field of Dreams a few years ago. Just stepping out of the car I was instantly amazed at how awesome The Harvester is. It’s not just the best course in Iowa, it immediately took a spot in my top 5 golf courses period. Under the overcast skies of a muggy day, the lush green hills seemed to extend infinitely into the distance. A condo complex and a few houses dotted the landscape, dominated by the massive plantation clubhouse overlooking the entire course. But aside from that and some barbed wire fencing, this place is pure nature. Continue reading The Harvester Golf Club

Wilderness Ridge Golf Course and Lodge

Wilderness Ridge in Lincoln, NE

wilderness ridge lincoln nebraska
Me and Greg (at least I wore Nebraska red)

The Stats

Tee Time: July 5 2014, 1:00, 91F, calm

Designer: Jim White (2001)

Playing Partners: Greg Ryan

Tees: Brown, Par 71 (72.6 rating/132 slope/6,518 yards)

Course Handicap: 9 (7.9 index)

Stats: 86 (44-42); 37 putts; 6/14 fairways; 7/18 greens; 1 penalty stroke

The Course

It’s nice to make some headway in the Midwest as I spent my Independence Day weekend in the lovely city of Omaha, Nebraska. Yes, it is a real place, not just some word Peyton Manning made up during the football season to bark out plays and drive everyone watching on TV crazy. An hour or so south is Lincoln, the capital and home of the Cornhuskers. When the football team plays a home game, Memorial Stadium actually becomes the 3rd most populated city in the entire state. My friend found that hard to believe. I found it hard to believe that Nebraska is so hilly. Actually, there is very little I did know about Nebraska other than I have an ex-girlfriend from there. It’s one of the few states that I hadn’t even set foot in. They sometimes get tornados, feed America and apparently feature some good golf. I was skeptical about spending my hard-earned 3-day weekend in a cornfield, but the Cornhusker State came highly recommended by Rick Grimes…  (note: this Walking Dead clip contains some violence, like all Walking Dead clips, so skip ahead if you’re reading this during story-time with the kids) Continue reading Wilderness Ridge Golf Course and Lodge

Stone Canyon Golf Club

Stone Canyon Golf Club in Blue Springs, MO

stone canyon golf club

The Stats

Tee Time: October 22, 2013, 8:20, 61 F, partly cloudy and breezy

Designer: Greg Norman (2009)

Playing Partners: Seth

Tees: Black (front 9)/White (back 9), Par 72 (70.9 rating/137 slope/6,548 yards)

Course Handicap: 11 (8.8 index)

Stats: 84 (42-42); 30 putts; 5/14 fairways; 4/18 greens; 1 penalty stroke

The Course

Ahh Missouri, the home of Brett Parise. I’ll start out by saying I had been to Kansas City once before, and I didn’t like it at all. It was on the baseball trip in 2006 to see the Royals play the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium. The stadium itself is great, but it might have been just a factor of us staying in a sketchy part of town and general travel fatigue because I came away thinking it was one of the worst cities we visited. Good thing I came back, because it is so much nicer than I remember. The skyline is beautiful, the locals are really great and of course the ribs… The World War I National Museum alone is worth the trip. And I was also wavering on even playing golf on my quick work trip here (I know, tough life). That stomach bug from Virginia still ate away at me, I had made an early-morning time and it was a chilly morning (50 degrees on the first tee; the high in Phoenix when I landed later that day was 91). I don’t know what made me get up and head out to Stone Canyon Golf Club in Blue Springs, MO just south of Kansas City, but thank God I did. Apparently Greg Norman designed this course and has never played it. I personally doubt he’s ever even been to Missouri unless there was a major taking place there. Then I thought about how much pressure there would be to play a golf course you personally designed. You would theoretically know everything about it: any false fronts, hidden hazards and blind tee shots. I bet it would be a lot of pressure, and we all know how the Shark performs under the gun. Continue reading Stone Canyon Golf Club