Mississippi Dunes – One Unique Track

By Will Brogan

Situated literally on the Mississippi River in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, Mississippi Dunes Golf Links pulls many unique, distinctive features from some of the world’s most famous layouts to present a one-of-a kind golfing experience. Six par fives and five par threes create an unusual setup for this par 72 course that plays just a hair longer than 6,500 yards.

For the golf architecture nut, Mississippi Dunes borrows ideas from courses such as St. Andrews and Pine Valley, among others, and designers like Donald Ross and Pete Dye. The bunkering is inspired by “The Old Course”, as there are several “pot” style bunkers (often in clusters) or larger strategic bunkers with names. One bunker is nicknamed “Hell Bunker”, and just like St. Andrews, it is situated on the fourteenth hole, in the fairway, on a par 5! Pine Valley also offers inspiration to Mississippi Dunes, most notably on two, 200-plus yard par threes (holes 4 and 17).

The two most distinguishing aspects of Mississippi Dunes are the elevated greens, and railroad ties in several of the bunkers. The former provides a stern test from a scoring perspective while the latter provide a unique aesthetic element. Pete Dye made the use of railroad ties famous in America at Harbour Town and TPC Sawgrass. Mississippi Dunes turns the idea on its side – literally – by taking the railroad ties and laying them at an angle on the back side (side closer to the green) of the bunker. Simply put, it’s a feature best viewed through your own eyes, right there on the course.

Donald Ross, credited for some of the nation’s greatest courses, was famous for creating turtleback greens with severe runoffs on many sides (think Pinehurst No. 2). Mississippi Dunes captures the same concept, as over a dozen of the course’s greens house steep runoffs on multiple sides. This feature makes hitting greens of paramount importance, as getting up-and-down becomes increasingly difficult if you are unable to. Throw in a fair amount of undulation in the greens, and you have yourself quite the challenge.

Golfers are presented with an unobstructed view of our nation’s greatest river on four holes, though “Big Muddy” can be seen through the trees on a host of other holes as well. The par 4, 407 yard, first hole features the river all down the right side. If you slice your opening tee shot, you can still find your ball; in the Gulf of Mexico once it travels all the way down the river! Two of the front nine’s par threes, the 146 yard 2nd and the 120 yard 9th have gorgeous, up-close-and-personal views of the river, especially from the greens. However, the short yardage doesn’t mean these holes are easy. Missing the green means bogey is very likely.

Opposite the river, an active railroad track serves as the Eastern border for the course, splitting the property between the course and the driving range. If you’re lucky enough to score an “ace” on either of the par threes (holes 4 and 12, both over 200 yards) that border the tracks, but need a witness, maybe you’ll be fortunate and have the conductor catch your once in a lifetime shot!

Nearly fifty bunkers spot the course, while some additional dunes can be played as waste bunkers as well. Though Mississippi Dunes does not “feel” heavily bunkered, hitting into one almost assures an extra stroke will be added to your score. Including the three holes that hug the Mississippi River, there are seven holes where water resides, though it really only needs to be accounted for on five of them.

Doc’s Landing Pub and Weddings: You’ll have to decide for yourself which one is better at Doc’s Landing Pub; the prices on their menu or the views of the mighty Mississippi. Either way, the casual dining and atmosphere at Mississippi Dunes are a real treat. Try some of the Pub’s Walleye Fingers, with their “soon to be famous” Nordeast beer batter!

As far as wedding venues go, Mississippi Dunes provides a special setting as well. There is an outdoor, shady ceremony area that sits right on the banks of the river, providing a natural feel that is perfect for an outdoor wedding. After the vows are exchanged, the party can begin in one of two rooms in the clubhouse, either the large Riverside room (up to 300 guests) or the intimate setting of the St. Andrews room (up to 80 guests). If you know someone looking for a unique venue for a wedding, Mississippi Dunes should definitely be on the list.

Play one of Minnesota’s most unique tracks: Have you ever dreamed what it would be like to mix some of the world’s finest courses into one? Take those thoughts, situate them on the Mississippi River right here in the Twin Cities, and let Mississippi Dunes accomplish that goal for you in its own unique style, which makes it a must-play!



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