BEST GOLF COURSE - 2005
Willinger's Golf Club
Twin Cities golfers are a star-crossed breed, blessed by so many courses and so little time. Never mind the private courses you'll never get to play. We'll confess to driving slowly, in the fallow month of February, past Interlachen and Spring Hill, thinking, "Just once...." If this lust for opulent golf strikes a chord, you owe it to yourself to steer the old Buick down to Willinger's this season. Dollar for dollar (a round costs $30 weekdays, $35 weekends), there's not a better golf experience to be had between Blue Earth and Biwabik. By all means, enjoy the well-groomed driving range and spacious clubhouse, but the golf course is the main attraction here. Shot makers will find plenty of options, and slashers will find their ruin. The front nine at Willinger's recalls the best of coastal Carolina, minus the gators. Still, it's got plenty of teeth. Well-struck shots will sometimes land you on the wrong side of the hole. On the backside, prepare for dramatic elevation changes and more than one trompe l'oeil composition: Witness the tricky, par-four 11th and the short 17th. Much like at that other converted tree nursery, Augusta National, local knowledge pays off at Willinger's. Which is reason enough to play it more than once.