BEST GOLF COURSE - 2003
If the Twin Cities have anything approaching Long Island's fabled Bethpage golf complex, it's Baker National. Here is an affordable public facility that is scenic, well-maintained, and tough as nails. If you haven't yet located your "A" game, don't despair: Novices can enjoy the nine-hole Evergreen Course ($14) or hone their chops at Baker's extensive practice facilities. The main attraction, though, is the 18-hole course. With its ample length, challenging terrain, and thick bluegrass rough, the big course at Baker can be a beast. Its only drawback, perhaps, comes at the par four number one, the hated barn hole. Here the fairway bunkers and hanging lies can leave you flustered right out of the gate. Relax, though, and enjoy the variety of holes that await. While none of them are pushovers, pars and birdies can be had if you keep your composure. The setting should help: Both nines meander through an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. Baker, in fact, was the first public track in the state to earn this distinction. It means the flora and fauna get as much TLC as the course itself, which is really saying something. Greens fees for 2003 are $34, and certain discounts may apply. Walking is permitted at all times and is highly recommended. So are reservations.