Willingers Golf Club – Great Value, Great Golf!
By Will Brogan
Located just one mile west of Interstate 35 in Northfield, Minnesota, Willingers Golf Club offers one of the best “bang for your buck” deals in the Greater Metro area. The club’s slogan, “Once played, easily remembered” is quite the fitting sentiment for Willingers. What’s the best part? Golfers walking off the 18th green who have fallen in love with the course can easily afford return rounds that run as low as $30 for non-twilight tee times!
The Golf Course: Willingers’ par 72 track offers four tee boxes and maxes out at just over 6,800 yards. Relatively flat topography intermingles with wetlands to dominate the landscape of the front nine. Hazards appear on all but one of the front nine holes, including two isthmus-style greens that make holes 3 and 7 (both par threes) quite challenging. The best birdie opportunity on the course resides on the par 4 fifth hole. Only 330 yards from the back tees, ambitious golfers can try to run their tee shots onto the green for an eagle opportunity. If not, a wide fairway will allow golfers to set up a short approach shot and knock it close for a birdie attempt.
In addition to the fantastic value that Willingers offers, a defining characteristic of the course is the strategic placement of several trees. There are quite a few holes (2,4,8, 12, and 15) in which a tree (or trees) either narrows the chute or sits directly in the middle of a fairway. Most long hitters can get the ball up and over these trees without issue, while the shorter tees will offer high handicappers a better angle to avoid these stately trees. Still, they provide a challenge to be reckoned with.
The back nine at Willingers explores the higher elevations on the property. In fact, most of the holes look like they belong alongside of the courses in Hayward, Wisconsin, that are also featured in this issue. The course’s “signature” hole is the challenging par 4 12th hole. Both an elevated tee and green bookend a fairway sitting in a tree lined valley. At 445 yards, this is a driver/mid iron combo for most golfers. Ranked the hardest hole on the back nine, par is a great score at the twelfth hole. The sixteenth is basically a mirror image of the twelfth, just running alongside and aimed in the opposite direction. Sixteen is not quite as long (419 yards) as twelve, but escaping with par should still be considered an accomplishment.
On the closing hole, a 566 yard par 5, a beach bunker guards the peanut-shaped green. With a tee shot that drops sharply downhill, golfers may get some extra roll, tempting them to get home in two. If you can hit a club you’re comfortable with, let it rip! After all, Willingers has the best “bang for your buck” in the area, so if you can create some fireworks of your own, why wouldn’t you pull the trigger?
Twelve holes boast water hazards, while over fifty bunkers are well placed throughout the course to make you look twice at your target. Proper club selection on approaches is important, as a shot landing on the wrong tier of most greens can create a possible three putt. At the same time, however, golfers who put the ball in the right spots at Willingers have a chance to shoot a wonderfully memorable round.
Clubhouse and Additional Features: Casual dining and a full service bar are located on the top floor of the two-story clubhouse. A modern yet cozy feel awaits golfers, who also have a well-stocked pro shop and full locker rooms at their disposal. General Manager Pete Stauffer and his staff do an excellent job of providing you with whatever you need to make your round as memorable and low scoring as it can be.
Speaking of preparing to “go low”, a large driving range with several targets is well maintained and one of the better facilities in the area. Additionally, a large putting green with nine pins allow you a full warm up before ascending to the course. There is a chipping area with a bunker for practice as well.
Willingers is centrally located between key locations: forty minutes from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and slightly more than an hour from both Mankato and Rochester. Stauffer pulls a great deal from those areas, especially seeking groups of one to three dozen people to have entertaining golf outings during the week. When considering the tremendous value that Willingers offers with the availability of weekday outings, golfers need to make the trip to Northfield to find the best golfing value the Greater Twin Cities area has to offer.