By R.J. Smiley

Golf travel to exotic locations to play unique golf courses has become a worldwide phenomenon. Individuals and companies who are seeking intoxicating new golf experiences spend billions of dollars every year. At private golf clubs around the world, traveling golfers share tales of remote golf courses with idiosyncratic styles.

For most people in Minnesota, the Ryder Cup is only a memory. Our Ryder Cup logo hats and shirts are starting to fade. But, shopping malls, hotels, golf resorts and CVB’s continue to reap the benefits of previously unimagined PR from the biennial Ryder Cup spectacle. Savvy travel professionals from all points on the globe are also piggybacking on the Ryder Cup hype. These travel consultants are eager to learn more about golf in Minnesota so they can cash in on the best Ryder Cup Matches ever. They know that they can sell golf packages that combine the best-known shopping mall in the world with turn of the century resorts that have been modernized and added quality golf. When they throw in the price point of Minnesota golf, the value provided to their customers becomes obvious. Their well-traveled clients are yearning to savor several different bites of golf in Minnesota, home of the 2016 Ryder Cup.

Bloomington, Minnesota, home of the Mall of America, teamed up with the Brainerd Lakes area, known worldwide as resort golf paradise, to co-host the third annual American Cup Golf Invitational. The ACGI is a golf tournament that was created to lure travel professionals, who package golf trips to first class destinations rich in distinct golf courses, to a unique destination. The traveling golf competition includes participants who are well-respected golf writers that will deliver the story of these golf destinations through the printed word and digital devices.

The first ACGI promotional tournament was held in 2015 at The Palm Beaches in Florida where golf has been a mainstay since the condominium boom started well over 50 years ago. The 2016 ACGI contest brought the travel pros and writers to Scottsdale, Arizona where a trek through the desert with a set of golf clubs on a golf cart is a peerless experience. The lodging and dining options in this desert oasis are endless.

Early fall in Minnesota provides a vivid background of red, yellow and orange oaks and maples as Mother Nature becomes a third host for the week-long golf caravan. The tournament is a Ryder Cup like competition made up of teams from various locations around the world combined with noteworthy golf writers. In addition to the travel pros and writers, leaders of many state tourism departments, Convention& Visitor Bureaus (CVB’s) of major metro areas around the USA along with internationally known North American golf resorts will attend and participate in the tournament.

ACGI week will be divided between the two locations. Three rounds of golf that will spotlight golf in the Twin Cities and two rounds at a pair of the best in the Brainerd Lakes region. Executives from the largest travel companies in the world will gather at the JW Marriott Hotel at the Mall of America to experience Minnesota hospitality and witness the MOA prior to the tournament.

Practice rounds, prior to the actual tournament, will give these visitors from afar a look at two noteworthy golf courses with entirely different heritages. They are scheduled to play a round at The Wilds, a contemporary layout created by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish near Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake. For the other practice round Minnesota’s golf guests will travel to one of the oldest golf courses in America, the White Bear Yacht Club. The golf course, created almost 100 years ago with very little earth moving is filled with uneven lies. The

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