It’s the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” and over 86,000 square miles, so when it comes to finding top tier golf courses in Minnesota, you have to be willing to travel a bit. Well-known Hazeltine National, of Ryder Cup and PGA Championship fame, is just a short drive from the state’s largest metropolis but is a members-only club. When it comes to public-access golf, many of the finest courses reside in Minnesota’s north country, but there are a handful of public layouts just minutes from the Twin Cities that hold their own against the best of the best in the North Star state.
Here’s a look at five of the top public golf courses in and around the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
Chaska Town Course (Chaska)
Just 30 minutes southwest of downtown Minneapolis resides one of the top golf courses in all of Minnesota. The simple name conjures images of a small municipal track but don’t be fooled, Chaska Town Course is a big-time layout. Stretching over 285 acres, the Arthur Hills design sits three miles down Pioneer Trail from its more prominent big brother, Hazeltine National. The Town Course is owned and operated by the city of Chaska and despite being a municipal course has jumped into the national spotlight. Along with Hazeltine, CTC hosted the 2006 U.S. Amateur and will once again welcome the top amateurs in the country for stroke play during the 2024 U.S. Amateur. Golfers willing to walk will tee it up from $55–$76, with twilight play beginning at 3 pm for just $53. https://www.chaskatowncourse.com/
Rush Creek Golf Club (Maple Grove)
Site of the 2021 Minnesota Golf Association Amateur Championship, Rush Creek has all the feel of a private golf club at public course prices. Founded in 1996 by Duncan MacMillan and designed by Bob Cupp and John Fought, the golf course was built to provide high quality, accessible golf. The 18-hole championship course, just 20 miles from downtown Minneapolis, has six sets of tees to test all handicap levels and can be stretched to more than 7,200 yards from the Duncan tees. Rush Creek has hosted LPGA events as well as the 2004 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. Public rates range from $69–$119 depending on time of day. Rush Creek also jumped in on the popular short course trend opening its Mac Nine in 2012; the 640-yard family-friendly course can be played for just $15. https://www.rushcreek.com/
Stoneridge Golf Club (Stillwater)
Finding high quality golf in close proximity to major downtown areas is often a tough task, but this public gem is only 15 minutes east of St. Paul. Designed by Bobby Weed in 2000, Stoneridge provides golfers with a feel of playing in a remote locale despite being just 13 miles from a major metropolis. The links-style layout was built on a reclaimed sand quarry and tests golfers with acres of fescue, pot bunkers, and waste areas. Stoneridge’s hole names are as unique as the golf course featuring the likes of Wynnstone (18th), Splinter (10th), and Barn (11th), which is home to a more-than-century-old barn dating back to the 1870s. A fair $89 will get you a weekday tee time with cart at Stoneridge. https://www.stoneridgegc.com/
Meadows at Mystic Lake (Prior Lake)
Sometimes all a golf course needs is a second chance to reach its potential. When the Mystic Lake Casino opened in 1992, Pine Lake Country Club sat adjacent to the gaming and hotel complex. Ten years later the narrow, uneventful layout was purchased by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and shut down. After a three-year remodel by architects Garrett Gill and Paul Miller, the Native American community opened The Meadows of Mystic Lake in 2005 and the upgrade was undeniable. Located 30 minutes south of Minneapolis, the course features wide fairways, rock-wall protected greens, and water on 13 of the 18 holes. The course will host the inaugural Land O’ Lakes Legends classic in August featuring some of the greatest players in women’s golf history and is part of the Sioux Community’s NativeGreen initiative using treated wastewater to irrigate the property. Rates run from $110–$130 with stay and play packages available. https://www.golfthemeadows.com/
The Jewel Golf Club (Lake City)
Hale Irwin made a name for himself at the U.S. Open with victories in 1974, 1979, and 1990, but the World Golf Hall of Famer has also established a prosperous career as a golf course designer over the last 35 years. Irwin currently has more than 25 courses in his portfolio with The Jewel Golf Club his lone venture in Minnesota. The course is located 63 miles southeast of St. Paul in the Mississippi Valley bluffs in Lake City, known as Minnesota’s South Shore and a popular vacation spot along the banks of Lake Pepin and the Mississippi River. The Jewel is a resort-style course designed with players of all abilities in mind. Along with scenic vistas, The Jewel presents golfers with a number of demanding tests, particularly at the 11th—a 209-yard par three requiring a carry over a pond to a heavily bunkered green complex sitting in the shadows of a dramatic bluff—which Irwin calls the course’s toughest. Summer rates run from $56–$94. https://jewelgolfclub.com/
What is your favorite public course in the Twin Cities?