Summer Swing: The best of Minnesota golf courses and resorts

Jason Scott Deegan was born in Minnesota and continues to love its best courses and resorts.

I was ticked when I first heard Soundgarden sing the words "I'm looking California and feeling Minnesota" in the 1990s hit song "Outshined."

Minnesota, where I was born, gets such a bad rap. Sure, it's cold. Yes, the mosquitoes are big. And, no, it's not as glamorous as Cali, where I live now. But I grew up on great memories visiting my grandparents and aunts/uncles/cousins near the Twin Cities and in farm country. Later in life as a golf writer, I've played some fun rounds on some terrific golf courses in Minnesota.

Several titanic golf events have unfolded in Minnesota at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska in the last decade or so - Team USA's rousing victory at the 2016 Ryder Cup Matches and Y.E. Yang's shocking takedown of Tiger Woods at the 2009 PGA Championship.

I've put together this "best of" story featuring Minnesota's finest public golf courses and resorts. I reached out to a few golf industry friends on the ground -- including Minnesota-based golf writer Eric Hart -- for a few assists. You might not agree with my selections, but that's the point. With nearly 500 courses, there will be plenty of debates where nobody wins and everybody's right.

Minnesota golf: Best public course

Built on the site of an old sand and gravel mining operation, The Quarry at Giants Ridge in Biwabik is as rugged as it is beautiful. If it weren't so remote -- located three hours north of the Twin Cities near the Superior National Forest -- more golfers would be raving about it.

Best public course clubhouse

There might be bigger clubhouses, but no building sets the mood for a rustic round of golf quite like the log cabin at Deacon's Lodge at Breezy Point Resort. Visit Palmer's Grille before or after the round.

Best public 19th hole bar/restaurant

The Wilderness Grill at The Wilderness at Fortune Bay in Tower serves spectacular food with a view to match. Hart raves about the Wild Duck Soup.

Minnesota's best resort for golf

Giants Ridge features two spectacular tracks: The Quarry and The Legend, designed by Jeff Brauer. The courses play completely different from one another.

Minnesota's best resort for families

All ages will love Madden's on Gull Lake in Brainerd several hours north of the Twin Cities. A waterpark -- complete with trampoline, a swim platform and water bouncers -- attracts children to the lake, but there are four other swimming pools (one indoors). Parents will savor the fine food, spa and golf.

Minnesota's best resort for buddies

Buddies can stay in the golf cabins at Deacon's Lodge at Breezy Point for some backwoods bonding. With two fine courses, Bobby's Legacy and Dutch Legacy, Cragun's Resort and Hotel on Gull Lake in Brainerd rates as a close second.

Minnesota's best resort for couples

The Grand View Lodge Golf Resort & Spa in Nisswa has been entertaining guests for a century. Restaurants, a spa, golf, outdoor recreation -- it's all here.

Minnesota's best municipal course

Chaska Town Course in Chaska, west of the Twin Cities, co-hosted the 2006 U.S. Amateur with Hazeltine, so it can test the best. Arthur Hills routed the course through wetlands and marsh typical of many courses in the state.

Minnesota's most scenic course

Brauer has renovated and revived Superior National at Lutsen, a scenic 27-hole course overlooking Lake Superior four hours northeast of the Twin Cities. By spending $4.5 million, ownership is pushing for a "Top 100" type of experience.

Minnesota's best pro golf tournament

Minnesota's long-standing PGA Tour Champions event, the 3M Championship, held at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, provides free tickets for anybody who wants to come. How cool is that?

Minnesota's hardest golf course

The Wilds Golf Club, a Tom Weiskopf/Jay Morrish design in Prior Lake, isn't for the meek. Its 154 slope is the highest in the state.

Best value golf course in Minnesota

Golf Advisor users love The Jewel Golf Club in Lake City southeast of the Twin Cities, ranking it 14th among the nation's top 50 courses costing less than $50. The Hal Irwin design sits on bluffs above the Mississippi River.

Minnesota's best golf destination

The endless choices of resorts (Cragun's, Maddens, Grand View Lodge, Breezy Point) and courses (Deacon's Lodge, The Classic, The Pines, The Preserve, Dutch Legacy, Bobby's Legacy, etc.) give Brainerd Lakes the edge over Giants Ridge.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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Summer Swing: The best of Minnesota golf courses and resorts