The Links at NorthFork – Brilliant!
By Tim Ryan
The word “links” actually derived from the Anglo-Saxon word “hlinc,” which originated in approximately 931 A.D. Hlinc meant ridge, and was later translated to “links,” which was then used to reference “any grassy area in a town”. So, when golf was invented in Scotland, referring to the course as “the links” was the surefire way to ensure all would understand what it meant. As in, “thare o’er dare ett thee lenks plane ye gowf.” The grassy area known as the Links at NorthFork in Ramsey, a ridged gem steeped deep in the roots of the game, is one of Minnesota’s few true Scottish Links experiences that “ye gowfer” will find in the state.
But, “NorthFork” is the best of what’s around for what it does and aspires to be behind the scenes just as much as for what it offers on the course. To decipher what makes “Links” stand out and outstanding, one need only start at the top. Managing Partner and Owner Mike Tozier, who purchased the club from American Golf in 2002 with his business partner, has a devoted staff of seasoned professionals whom aspire to go above and beyond each and every brand new day. “What we want our golfers to feel when they leave is that they received so much value for their dollar that they ripped the course off,” he said about the aspirations that his team has towards total customer satisfaction. “We know life is busy, and golf is a game of recreation that is meant to be enjoyed.” This great leader and his entire staff deserve to be commended for their commitment to excellence. “We are not perfect, but we sure try to be,” said Josh Breen, PGA Head Professional. And ye gowf…BRILLIANT!
The skies shine down on the fescue and bentgrass at “The Links” in just the proper light that it gives an immediate impression of golfing in Scotland or Ireland. And keeping the ball in the fairway is the way to play well at any Links course, but this is especially true at NorthFork. The primary rough is grown up enough that failing to knock the pearl in the short grass forces the player to adjust so they often must use a lofted club just to advance the ball.
The front 9, in essence, embodies the essential spirit of Links traits to make it great, complete with a train roaring by on occasion. The outward nine, which begins and ends with straightaway par fives, is a layout of hidden bunkers and unforeseen hazards aplenty. Too, the two par 3’s on the front side are a duo with which to be reckoned! In fact, the seventh hole actually features a pair of greens to rotate between, depending on the day. This ultimately gives the front nine 10 holes, as the location of each of the greens on seven results in it playing dramatically different from day to day. BRILLIANT!
The back 9 is what makes The Links at NorthFork so special. To choose a signature hole is almost impossible, as each on the inward loop have many memorable features. The par 5 tenth hole is a most definite opportunity to fetch a birdie, as it is only 490 yards from the back tees with nothing but a waste bunker and heavy rough to defend itself. Hole number eleven, a marvelous double fairway hole that allows the player to ponder a safe play or glorious one, is a sweet and splendid stretch that a golfer could play over and over again – differently every time. Danger surrounding the tiny green on hole number twelve, a long par 3, makes it as tough as any eyes have seen. And so, by the time the sublime thirteenth hole is complete, the golfer can get ready for the grandest of finishes.
The magnificent dogleg left fourteenth hole gets an ‘A’ all the way to the green! The wisest choice on this meandering test is to treat it as a true par 5, so as to avoid all the trouble that can spoil the fun. A worthwhile suggestion when playing the par 4 fifteenth, the toughest on the course, is to “Bayware and bay sife, fer ye pond ezz tharsty fer gelf bulls!” Ease back and right off the tee, as much danger awaits ’round the bend!
The sixteenth hole, another double fairway, is a thinking man’s little sweetie. Choosing the low left fairway results in an uphill approach, whereas staying right is a fair way to be perched high upon the hill with the best angle for the approach. The second par 3 on the back nine, the short and sweet downhill seventeenth, is a crafty little devil. A severely sloped green greets its patrons, and appears unwilling to give up the passcode for birdies. And, ah, the closing hole at the “grassy area in town”. As soon as the clubhouse comes into view from the tee box, it feels like ye home of golf. BRILLIANT!