Minnesota golf courses come in a wide variety, from 9-hole mom and pop operations to 54-hole resort complexes. In this series of articles we discuss them all. Today we highlight the Annandale area, which is located in “the Heart of the Lakes” just 45 minutes west of the Twin Cities on State Highway 55 or 25 minutes southeast of St. Cloud off State Highway 24. The area has 26 lakes within a 10-mile radius as well as three golf courses. Annandale also boasts one of the largest and best July 4th celebrations in Wright County. To get more information about the city of Annandale and a calendar of upcoming events visit the Chamber of Commerce website at www.annandalechamber.org
The golf courses in the area are: Albion Ridges (320)-963-5500 www.albionridges.com
Southbrook Golf Club (320)-274-2341 or 1-(877)-292-9630 www.southbrookgolf.com
Whispering Pines Golf Course (320)-274-8721.
Albion Ridges: Albion Ridges is located southeast of the city of Annandale on Wright County Road #105 in Albion Township. This facility has three separate 9-hole courses and an 18-hole round is made up of a rotation of the courses to allow the grounds staff to perform their tasks and let the golfers enjoy their round of golf.
The courses are Rock Ridge, which extends along the east side of the course and the water eventually drains into Rock Lake on the eastern edge of Albion Township. The “Rock Nine” plays 3,237 yards from the black tee markers. Granite Ridge is located on the western edge of the course and the water from this nine eventually drains into Granite Lake on Albion’s western border. The “Granite Nine” plays 3,318 yards from the black tee markers. Rock Ridge and Granite Ridge made up the original 18-hole course on opening day in the fall of 1991. In the spring of 2000 the addition of Boulder Marsh to the golf course on property that was purchased directly north across County Road 105. A tunnel under the road links the property to the rest of the golf course. The name of this 9-hole course comes from the marsh that runs through the middle of the course as well as the many boulders that were found on the property during construction. A unique use of these boulders on each hole as a point of reference as to where the player should aim their tee shot. If you aim for the boulder in the distance and hit your tee shot straight you will be in fine shape for your second shot. The name Boulder Marsh is also in honor of the previous owner of the property Fred Marsh who spent his life farming this rocky, marshy piece of property. The history of the golf course and names of each nine were provided by the owners of the golf course Dennis and JoAnn Olson. The “Boulder Nine” plays 3,312 yards from the black tee boxes.
The course rating and slope indexes of the different combinations are as follows from the black, farthest back, tee markers. The combination of Rock and Granite has a course rating of 71.1 with a slope index of 132. The combination of Granite and Boulder has a course rating of 71.5 and a slope index of 136. The combination of Boulder and Rock has a course rating of 71.1 and a slope index of 131.
The layout at Albion Ridges is fairly wide open so you may get a false sense of security the first time you play here. What you need to keep in mind is that looks can be deceiving and the rough is very thick. Getting a good shot from the rough is very difficult. The greens are very undulating, but roll very true. You must be sure of your read before you putt or risk the chance of being farther away on you second putt than you were on your first putt.
The weekend rate at Albion Ridges is $30.00 for 18-holes and a riding cart is $22.00 for 2 people.
Southbrook Golf Club: Southbrook Golf Club was established in 1997 on the western edge of the city of Annandale. Southbrook is an 18-hole facility that plays 6,525 yards from the back tee markers. The course rating is 71.0 and has a slope index of 116. Upon first examination this looks to be a fairly innocent golf course, but it can rear up and bite you if you do not pick your target properly and execute. There is trouble on all 18-holes. There is the opportunity to find out of bounds, water hazards or sand traps and any combination of the afore mentioned on every hole of this golf course. The rough is extremely challenging and getting a good shot from the rough is a very difficult task.
In my opinion the toughest hole on this course is the 18th. This hole plays 561 yards from the back tees into the prevailing wind. The tee shot is difficult as you try to land between a pair of ponds. For the big hitters the play is to fly over the pond on the left side of the fairway and eliminate any trouble. The carry is 260-plus yards. For the short to intermediate hitter or for the player that hits a fade there is trouble on the right side with a creek and two separate ponds. The play for the shorter hitter is perhaps a fairway wood as to not allow you to hit through the fairway to the ponds on the right. Just remember you have to bring enough club to carry the creek and however much you decide to cut off the pond on the left. This is an excellent finishing hole as many matches are won or lost on the 18th.
The weekend rate at Southbrook Golf Club is $30.00 for 18-holes and a riding cart is $12.00 per person. There are also Twilight rates and you should contact the Pro-Shop for more details about this special price.
When your round of golf is complete your time at Southbrook is not done until you visit Fore Seasons Restaurant. Whether you are in the mood for a sandwich or burger or a complete dinner entree the food and cocktails at Fore Seasons are some of the best tasting and best values in the entire Annandale lakes area. Fore Seasons also serves a fantastic Sunday Brunch during the summer season.
Whispering Pines Golf Course: Whispering Pines is located just a few miles east of Annandale off of Wright County Road #6. This is a Joel Goldstrand designed golf courses. The course is a par-71 that plays 6,421 yards from the back tee markers. The course rating from the back tees is 70.9 with a slope index of 129. The weekend rate for 18-holes is $28.00. Power carts are also available for rent.
When planning your vacation this summer to the Heart of Lakes area or just a weekend get away from the Twin Cities, make the trip to Annandale. This summer why not make it a Minnesota rural golf vacation?