Minnesota National – Nature’s Golf Course At Settler’s Ridge

By R.J. Smiley

What is Minnesota National Golf Course?
Minnesota National is a hidden gem of a golf course you should find the time to play. Minnesota National Golf Course and Settler’s Ridge Vacation Home Community is the dream of developer/owner, Wayne Alden, who believed, and still believes, that if you build it they will come. He created a golf course and vacation home community in the wilderness just north of McGregor near Big Sandy Lake. The setting for his dream is perfect! This is proven by the fact that over 2,000 years ago, with all of North America to chose from, the Native American People chose the exact spot to create a large village that lasted for over 200 years. (Hence the name Settler’s Ridge.) Shortly after opening, Wayne and his dream got caught in the real estate downturn.

The truth be told – Minnesota National Golf Course is in the wrong place! But, this is good news for golfers. The out-of-the-way location allows golfers, who find their way there, to feel like they have their own private golf course in the heart of Nature’s wonderland. Minnesota National is a wonderful golf course designed by Minnesota native, Joel Goldstrand. With an undisturbed natural setting and 7,200 yards of perfect bent grass to play from, Minnesota National is a treat for all golfers. From the tips, Minnesota National boasts a slope of 144 and a course rating (nearly equal to Hazeltine National) of 75.6. With five sets of perfect tees, all golfers will find the proper challenge. The white sand in the bunkers stand in stark contrast to the lush green and vivid blues of the fairways, sky and water.

The earth moving to create another of Minnesota’s great golf course treasures was done by Mother Nature and her huge bull dozer, named Glacier, 10,000 years ago during the last ice age. The variety of natural holes created on this, gently rolling, 600 acres canvas gave Goldstrand an unusual problem; which 18 holes should he include to create this wilderness masterpiece. Once the 18 unique holes were chosen, all Joel had to do was define the fairways by clearing the towering white, red pine and the native hardwoods. Then Goldstrand completed the design job by creating, his design trademark – a complex of greens that add an endless variety of approach shots to every hole and a “never-scene-that putt-before” comment, even to regular players. First time players appreciate the fact that, all carts are equipped with, very accurate, and easy to use GPS.

Wayne Alden understands that not all vacation golfers want to hit shots from tight bent grass lies to slick greens, so he had Joel Goldstrand add a shorter nine to the mix. The par 33, 9-hole course is covered by lush blue grass fairways where the ball sits up and is easy to hit. The course has four par 4’s, four par 3’s, and one par 5, with a variety of tee options. The par 33 course has the same element of charm and beauty as its big brother, the championship course.

If Minnesota National was anywhere around the Twin Cities it would be packed to the gills.

What is Settler’s Ridge?
Settler’s Ridge is a vacation home community that was developed on the exact spot where a Native American village prospered for over 200 years. Artifacts of pottery, stone tools and animal bones prove that the original inhabitants of this lakeshore oasis 2,000 years ago enjoyed many of the same amenities that exist for today’s home owners. The fishing is great with access to four different lakes and anglers catch virtually all native Minnesota fish species, and the variety of game animals range from grouse, deer, bear and rabbits. However many of these animals are shot only with a camera today.

In addition to the original amenities, Settler’s Ridge now has 24 boat slips that provide owners immediate access to the variety of four connected lakes including Big Sandy. With over 5 miles of improved walking and hiking trails, Settler’s Ridge is the perfect place to enjoy the potpourri of nature’s creatures that also make the area home.

Settler’s Ridge boasts its own eagle’s nest with the same nesting pair returning to raise their young, year after year. Believe it or not, Aitkin County is famous for the variety of birds that migrate through the area. Bird watchers from all over the world come to the area for viewing the rare species. Homeowners at Settler’s Ridge have some of the best of the bird watching world. The clubhouse at Minnesota National gives homeowners a place to go for dinner and is a perfect place to host a wedding for their children or family reunions.

With over 300 individual home sites along a mile of lakeshore and golf course fairways, Settler’s Ridge will surely attract the right mix of vacation and retirement homeowners.

How do I get to Minnesota National?
When you and your golf group head to Northern Minnesota, the scenic route to Minnesota National is just a little dog-leg right from Lake Mille Lacs. Minnesota National is located a few miles north of McGregor, just west of Highway 65. Head up Highway 169 – when you get to Garrison, on Mille Lacs Lake, take the right fork (the Y), Highway 169, (after a beer and lunch at the Blue Goose) then continue east on Highway 210 (toward Duluth) east of Aitkin where Highways 169 and 210 split then Highway 210 to McGregor then north on Highway 65. For those itching to hit the links just take Highway 65 north.

You won’t find Minnesota National Golf Course unless you are looking for it! Make your plans for a trip to McGregor this summer. You won’t regret it!

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