As the Star Tribune recently reported, golf in Minnesota is having a bit of trouble these days. If my experiences the past two weekends are any indication, part of the damage is self-inflicted. Let’s start with Victory Links Golf Course in Blaine.
This course opened in 2003 and has been on my list of places to play ever since. It is one of a handful of courses that opened after I produced my golf guide, so I had neither played nor photographed it before our visit. I just knew it was part of the National Sports Center complex, which bills itself as the largest soccer complex on earth (along with the largest ice arena in the world). I also knew it was part of the First Tee program and had multiple sets of tees to encourage youth play.
Once we arrived, the scorecard showed it was designed by PGA TOUR Design Services, Inc., with distances ranging from 2834 yards all the way up to 7045 yards from the tips. The official web site says Victory Links was “designed to be as inviting as an executive course and yet challenging enough to host a PGA Tour event.” Unfortunately, the course doesn’t seem to have a lot of character – I can’t recall a single hole I would consider “signature,” and it was tough to find anything that was especially photogenic.
It also seems that somewhere along the way, focus was lost. In my opinion, it’s too tough for beginners (even from the forward tees). Conditioning on many of the holes was very good, but it’s highly unlikely the tour would ever hold an event there. I’m guessing that maybe the original plans called for the course to host state high school tournaments, but the MSHSL doesn’t agree (at least for now).
The site is huge and covers more than 400 acres. The one plus was no housing anywhere, but the rather large problem (at least for walkers), are the long distances between holes in multiple spots. This starts off right away with the trek from the clubhouse to the first tee, which easily takes about ten minutes to walk. Eleven green to twelve tee and seventeen green to eighteen tee are also awfully far apart.
The worst part of our day, though, was the customer service. We had an 8:50 tee time and were told to check back at the pro shop then to see how the morning shotgun tournament was progressing. That’s right – they took tee times on a Saturday morning when they also had a tournament booked. We were told to wait for the group that was on the eighth hole before teeing off on the tenth. After a 30+ minute wait, they changed their mind and drove us over to the first tee instead, where we waited behind another group already on the tee. Once we finally started, the pace wasn’t too bad, but the damage was already done.
The following week we played at Braemar in Edina. That day doesn’t warrant a full post – let’s just say that allowing a sixsome out on a Saturday morning and not advising us they just punched the greens (but were still charging full price) means we won’t come back again anytime soon…Originally published by DK on August 26, 2014 at 6:26 pm