BEST GOLF COURSE Minneapolis 2000 - Baker
One of two golf courses maintained by the Suburban Hennepin Regional Park District, Baker National is bypassed by some because it's difficult. But when your golf game is as lousy as ours, you tend not to split hairs. We like Baker because it's beautiful, and because it's not prohibitively expensive. The 18-hole course (par 72) is built on the site of a pair of old farmsteads; the red barn that serves as a backdrop to the first hole used to be a period edifice, but it was falling down and had to be rebuilt a few years back. And while we're well aware that the words golf and environmentally sensitive are rarely uttered in the same sentence, Baker National provides an exception to the rule: In 1995 it became the first public course in Minnesota to be certified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary for its efforts at wildlife management and conservation. Greens fees are $30 a round ($12 if you play the newly remodeled nine-hole course); a $25 yearly pass entitles the bearer to an additional discount. There's a driving range, club rentals are available, and so are lessons. The only drawback is the crowds; if you want to avoid them, go during the week--and hope we're not playing in the foursome behind you.