Best of

the Twin Cities

Best Golfer

Troy Merritt

After a convincing 2009 win at Q School, Spring Lake Park High grad and former Winona State golfer Troy Merritt had an eventful rookie season on the PGA Tour. Playing in 29 tournaments during the 2010 season, Merritt made 14 cuts and tallied four top-25 finishes. At the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in April 2010, he fired a Sunday 67 to duel with the leaders before finishing with a career-best third-place close. That hot bayou finish earned the onetime Minnesota prep all-stater (in golf and basketball) a cool $435,200. Yet that bulky payday would later be bettered by Merritt's autumn win of the Kodak Challenge, a 30-hole cumulative, season-long tally of what's dubbed as "the greatest scorecard in golf." Merritt's sudden-death, three-man playoff win in the challenge earned him $1 million. Asked what he was going to do with the cash, the 25-year-old newlywed replied, "Well, the first thing I'm going to do is buy my wife a new car." That fall day was doubly sweet for Merritt. His bogey-free final round of the season placed him at number 125 on the tour money list for the year, earning him the final slot to keep his card for 2011. The challenge win aside, Merritt earned nearly $800K in his first year on tour and ranked among the top 50 players in several statistical categories, including putting average (36th) and putts per round (46th). That same hot putter hasn't materialized yet in the '11 season, but this wispy guy's history portends a bright future.

Best Beach Hidden Beach

Best Bike Trail Grands Rounds, along the Mississippi River

Best Bowling Alley Bryant-Lake Bowl

Best Boxer Jason Litzau

Best Coach Ron Gardenhire

Best College Athlete Emily Palkert, Concordia University

Best Day Trip Drive around Lake Pepin

Best Hike Interstate State Park

Best Ice Skating Lake of the Isles

Best Lynx Player Rebekkah Brunson

Best Outdoors Store Gear West

Best Picnic Spot Boom Island Park

Best Place to Run Mississippi River Road

Best Place to Shoot Pool Grumpy's Bar

Best Place to Walk a Dog Minnehaha Off-Leash Dog Park

Best Public Golf Course Chaska Town Course

Best Sledding Kenwood Park

Best Swarm Player Ryan Benesch

Best Timberwolves Player Kevin Love

Best Trail Running Hyland Lake Park Reserve

Best Twins Player Joe Mauer

Best Urban Hike Pike Island, Fort Snelling State Park

Best Vikings Player Adrian Peterson

Best Weekend Getaway North Shore

Best Wild Player Martin Havlat

Best Winter Escape Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como

Best Winter Resort Lutsen Lodge

Best Winter Sport You've Never Tried Skijoring