August 15, 2017
Last year, a few friends and I hatched a plan to play as many of the top golf courses in Minnesota as possible. Recently, we made a trip to northern Minnesota to play three of the best courses in the state and, from what I’ve seen, some of the coolest courses in the country.
Two of the courses — the Quarry and the Legend — are located at the Giant’s Ridge ski resort, which is a few minutes outside of Biwabik, an Iron Range town of less than a thousand people about three and a half hours from the Twin Cities. The third, the Wilderness, is another forty minutes further north on the shores of Lake Vermillion. Anybody who’s visited this part of Minnesota understands how truly remote this area is. Definitely not the type of place you’d expect to find world-class golf courses.
Taking location out of the equation for a moment, the courses themselves were amazing and surely some of the best I’ve ever played. But, the location — for a few reasons — is a huge part of what makes these courses extra special.
For one, there’s the stunning beauty of northern Minnesota. As you can see below, the holes are carved into the natural landscape and in a way become part of it.
Second, golfing at any of these courses makes you feel like you’re truly playing in the middle of nowhere (which, for the most part, you are). Instead of holes crowded next to each other like you’d find on a typical golf course, you can find yourself driving a quarter- or half-mile down gravel roads and logging trails between holes, and going hours without seeing other golfers. I’ve never experienced that feeling at any other golf course.
Finally — and this is related more to the entire experience of making a trip to play these courses, and particularly at the two Giant’s Ridge courses — you get the experience of staying in small-town Minnesota rather than a fancy golf resort. Not that resorts are necessarily bad, but exploring Iron Range towns, and doing things like having dinner at a local diner or town bar, adds a lot to a trip like this, at least for me. If you’re into golf and ever have the opportunity, I’d highly recommend making the trip.
Here are a few photos of the courses.