As mentioned yesterday, I had the opportunity to play Somerby Golf Club in Byron, Minnesota. Somerby is a private 7,209 yard championship course designed by John Fought and Tom Lehman that opened summer 2004. The beautiful clubhouse that overlooks the 18th green cost a reported $9 million to build and it shows. The attention to detail and the amenities are very well done, as was the food and service in the grill.
The development is a partnership between Burnsville-based Ames Construction and Wensmann Homes of Eagan. The opening of the course and the surrounding homes didn’t coincide with the best of economic times, but things are starting to turn around. Membership is up and construction is starting to increase on the lots available for purchase. A new $6,000 initiation fee promotion with payments over several years has also made an impact. A national membership option for those living more than 50 miles away is also a tempting option, particularly for those living in the south metro area of the Twin Cities.
As for the course, I’ve always been a big John Fought fan. Two of his designs with Bob Cupp–Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon and Rush Creek in Maple Grove–are among my favorite courses to play. He now has two courses in Minnesota where he collaborated with Minnesota-native Tom Lehman that have attracted critical acclaim: Somerby and Windsong Farm.
My high expectations for Somerby were easily met. The course was obviously being toughened for the upcoming Nationwide event, so the rough was very penal and the greens were rolling very fast. Winds yesterday were relatively light, but I could see how it would have a major impact on how the course plays.
My favorite sequence of holes were on the back side: 14-16. The downhill 402 yard par-4 fourteenth to the semi-island green, the water features of the short risk-reward 317 yard par-4 fifteenth and the tough, long 454 yard number 1 handicap par-4 sixteenth are a great stretch of par four holes. I also like the opening hole on the back side, the 406 yard par-4 tenth with the sweeping vistas and elevated tee shot. The front side has a number of strong holes as well, but I think they get overshadowed by the back nine.
The course beat me up pretty bad, but I’d play a number of holes differently the next time and should have been playing a different set of tees. At least I found out why I’m not on tour–my approach shot on the 18th went straight into the bleachers and likely would have killed someone. Fun day all around, though…Originally published by DK on June 4, 2007 at 5:05 pm