This is the part of the tour where the weather is going to start dictating the route and the final states of the journey. It is the middle of October now and the weather in Minnesota is getting questionable. It was snowing before I arrived, so all bets are off from here on forward.
Those bets would pay off in the beginning of the state with a round at Spring Hill. The trees couldn’t have been any oranger and the golf couldn’t have been any better. Just walking down these fairways felt like a fall wonderland. I even added bookend birdies on #1 and #18 to insulate the questionable play in between.
The Minnesota hits were coming in a fury with Interlachen on the calendar the following day. I had a great caddie named Kailleigh on the bag and the sun was out. I also happened to be at the 499 birdie mark and today was going to be the day that I crossed over the 500 birdie threshold, or so I thought.
The ball striking was crisp and so was the fall air, but the birdie putts were not dropping. One by one, the putts would slide by the hole. Maybe not today I thought to myself. I had voiced my intention early on so I knew my gal on the bag, Kaileigh, was counting on me to make it happen.
The wind was howling as I hit my 5 iron approach 139 yards into the center of the 18th green. I had one final 35 footer for birdie or I was going to have to wait until tomorrow for birdie #500. “Here we go, this one is going in.” My group smiled, but no one really believed me.
As my wide swooping putt neared the hole, I realized this one has got a chance, but it needs to slow down. You know what slows down a putt real fast? The back of the cup! This baby dove in high side and our foursome cheered like someone had won the 2008 US Women’s Open trophy! Well, they may have cheered louder for Annika Sorenstam, but both of these things happened on the same green.
With a good stretch of weather rolling through Minneapolis, the tour was set to take advantage the next day at Windsong Farms. The course was designed by the duo of John Fought and Tom Lehman. Fought has done other courses like Pumpkin Ridge and Crosswater in Oregon and Tom Lehman should need no introduction. True to it’s name, the wind at Windsong was howling hard.
The stunning fall colors continued at Hazeltine the very next day. If I took away one thing from Hazeltine, it is that those members love The Ryder Cup. Our host, Quinn, looked like he was actually on the Ryder Cup team. He had the full team garb on and everything.
A good golf course should give the golfer a glimpse of what is to come later on in the round. One of my favorite examples of this is the 10th hole at Hazeltine. Not only is the 10th hole a good one, but it gives the golfer a peak of the 16th green. Thoughts like “Oh man, look at all of that water,” or “Tough pin, back right!” enter the golfer’s mind. All of a sudden, the golf course has you thinking about something else and building up anticipation for an exciting finish. This one approach somehow ties the entire back nine together.
Next up, we had Brian, Dan, and Pat at White Bear Yacht Club. Brian, Dan and Pat were not just your ordinary group of RGV tour players. I would classify them as extraordinary. Brian has created something in his spare time called Birdies 4 Brains. This charity benefits a number of brain injury benefactors in the Minneapolis area. The best part about the whole deal is that it’s a one day, 100 hole, golf event. Learn more here.
With it’s wild and hilly terrain, White Bear Yacht Club is a tremendously fun golf ride. It’s a Donald Ross design that really doesn’t remind you too much of a Ross until you get to some of the green complexes. Very little dirt was moved in the creation of White Bear and Ross used the land splendidly. The 17th hole above stuck out to me as one of the best par 3’s in the state and the little White Bear statue on 18 is one of the best cuddlers in the state as well.
With daylight dwindling on my final day in Minnesota, we decided to push the limits at StoneRidge Golf Club. Once again, the gamble would pay off. We got some great photos from the sky and managed to get in an emergency 9. As the sun went down, the RGV jetted off to North Dakota. Who goes to North Dakota in late October to play golf? The RGV Tour does.