Legacy Golf – Quality Golf Within Reach
By E. Nolan
Regionally renowned golf course architect, Garrett Gill, has his fingerprints all over the Southern Minnesota golf scene. While he is better known for his contributions at the Meadows at Mystic Lake Casino, his creative design a little further south should certainly not be ignored.
Faribault, to non-residents, is considered little more than a pit stop between the Twin Cities and Cabela’s (or the Outlet Mall at Medford). Golfers can’t afford to be so ignorant. The Legacy, an 18-hole Championship design, is carved into the plateaus high above the friendly little town, adjacent to the equally impressive signature towers of Shattuck-St. Mary’s (Internationally recognized college prep school).
The Legacy project, golf course and community, was conceptualized in the early 1990’s and developed with plenty of TLC, opening officially in 1998. The course can rather simply be described as “open, unassuming, and community centered.” A golfer from Shakopee, who claimed he’d golfed here every functional week for the past decade (except two) stated, “There are plenty of great golf courses like this one in the cities that are so much more congested. I can travel there, wait on every tee, and be frustrated or play here any time and at whatever pace I’d like… and shoot the same score in either case. I always pick to play here.” We get that. The Legacy feels like it is private, offering memberships if you want one, but giving you a great deal even if you don’t. They serve breakfast to the community in their clean and altogether quaint clubhouse and they seem determined to get to know everyone who enters by name. You feel like you’re in some remote desolated place, like Iowa, but you’re not. You’re a gallon or two of gas from the Twin Cities, mere miles from tranquil uninterrupted golf.
Mr. Gill intended for the course to play as if it were three different courses, with three significantly different patterns of golf holes. There are the tree-lined holes, the wide-open flat holes and the hilly, blind shot peppered holes. But holes of the same pattern are seldom consecutive. You can easily see the differences, and they play distinctly so, but they’re mixed to the point you never tire of any.
His intent was clearly for you to relax and score well. The first hole does not in any way intimidate, none of the first three do, to be honest. You can start out strong and then settle in just in time to admire the pretty little downhill (Par 3) 4th. The strength of Gill’s creativity will test you over the well-designed final 4 holes of the front, as you’ll play to consecutive greens on 8 and 9 bordered (rather “guarded”) by ponds and wetlands. The back, once again, begins gently allowing you to gain momentum through the first three holes before you’re asked to focus and fine-tune your game for a 3-5-3 stretch that allows little forgiveness for being “too long.” For that matter, on pretty much every hole, short is a much better answer than long, which should favor 90% of all golfers, although, given the nature of the game, we all seem to be consistently long on such courses.
To the golfer who hasn’t yet played this course, and is reading this review with interest, I’m sure you’re trying to decide what would make it worth your while to come here and give it a shot. Is it surrounded by houses? Yes and no. Does it feel like you have the course to yourself? Yes and no. Are there memorable holes? Yes and yes. No doubt about it. They are equally distributed on the front and back, so if you only have time for nine as the daylight hours dwindle you’ll be in for a treat on either nine. While our favorites were definitely #4 and #8, #9, #13 and #18 are equally memorable.
This is one of those courses that was made for fall golf. It is pretty as the leaves change, but open enough to where the leaves don’t typically interfere with fairway ball searches. The fairways and greens are firm and fast, resulting in long drives and favorable forward bounces. The service is personal by personable people, the food great, and the attention to detail evident, demonstrating nothing but invested pride by a small Minnesota town content as a pit stop but intent on becoming a repeat one.
Clearly though, the only way to come back, is to come here once first. And you should. For anyone in the Twin Cities, this is definitely “Quality Golf Within Reach.”