Fun At The Run
By Tim Ryan
Many golfers have said that they measure the quality of a golf course by how many holes they can recall in their mind after playing the course for the first time. Others appreciation for pristine condition on the tees, fairways, and greens keeps them coming back. The improving golfer wishes to play where they can spray it around and still find their ball. So, what about the talented golfer? They no doubt stake their claim that “the greater the challenge, the better the course”.
If a memorable succession of holes is the standard of excellence, then Deer Run passes the test. If a well manicured playing ground fits their fancy, then Deer Run scores an ace. If forgiveness is needed by those who are just learning the game, then Deer Run will relieve their tension. And if toughness suits the style, Deer Run is the right course with which to pick a battle.
A tight and tidy par 71, the fun at Deer Run has just begun by the time a group reaches the first tee. The Starter, who pleasantly greets each group, is gainfully employed to get play moving properly at the start of the round. The upbeat attitude of the man in the stand is one that many a Minnesota Marshall could benefit from borrowing. A welcoming manner by a course representative, after all, sets a very positive tone for the day.
Three sets of tee boxes narrows or stretches “The Run” so that it measures between 5,040 and almost 6,300 yards. The layout is great in that it is straightforward, and is one that does not overwhelm even the most unskilled of golfers. Low handicap players, though, can really make a run at some birdies!
The front nine allows players to ease into their round, with a not too dangerous, but fun to play trio. Although the par 4 third hole is ranked as the most difficult on the course, it allows the player an opportunity to play to safe areas, keeping the double bogey blues at bay. Do not hit the ball over this green!
The straightaway fourth hole, which is a par 5 less than 500 yards long from the black tees, gives the golfer a good idea of where to hit their ball all the way up to the green. Even for a short hitter, this is a great opportunity to get momentum going if it has been lost, and the long-ball master will easily give themselves a look at an eagle; if they just keep the ball in play.
A couple of little sneaky holes follow, in numbers five and six, leading up to Deer Run’s seventh hole, a pesky par 4 that has been the scene of many a Superintendent’s nightmares, what with all of the tempers that undoubtedly flair up when playing this hole. “Old No. 7” is the ultimate way for the thinking man to exact revenge if their round has gone too astray. Marsh on the right and out of bounds on the left gives cause to consider hitting a 3-wood or hybrid iron off the tee. If the proper decision is made, and a shot in the fairway has been played, an uphill approach shot to a large green is next on the list. Reminiscent of many of the classic holes designed by famed architect Donald Ross, which were the norm prior to the long ball being en vogue, it is penal if you do not pick the right club.
Hole number eight is great, as it is yet another reachable par 5. The extremely long driver of the golf ball will be able to get one close to the green in two, but if they do, the putting surface is contoured in just the right spots. This counters the lack of length for sure, and protects the 472 yard hole from being destroyed by eagles.
The final hole on the front nine is a creation of absolute beauty. A blind tee-shot rifled down the middle of this tight par 4 is a surefire way to set up an approach with a wedge. Although the second strike is somewhat intimidating, as the green is fronted by a creek, and slopes severely from back to front and left to right, many birdies can be had by the best.
The inward nine begins with an uphill par 4, where golfers can pick up food after hitting their tee shot, if they chose to use the call-box to place an order on the ninth. Eleven and twelve are a couple more classic holes that were borne out of replicating the golden era of golf architecture.
Hole number 13 at Deer Run? Now that’s one to dream of at night. With the teeing area perched upon a hill, and the fairway far below, a healthy bump of 220 will roll out until it finds flat ground. The pond, which completely guards the green from gargantuan drives, will swallow the ball if it’s ornery. Don’t even think about messing with “her”!
An uphill par 3 sits waiting across the road, and it is surely a nice change of pace. Seven holes in a row without a “shorty” can feel a bit long, so good luck on making an ace. Fifteen is straightforward as is sixteen, but seventeen is one that can be a whole lot of fun, for it’s a par 4 that has oft yielded a two!
The closing hole, a healthy par 5, provides a snapshot of the wonderful clubhouse, and is a very nice way to finish the day. Although this has been a difficult spring for course maintenance crews all over Minnesota, the eighteenth fairway was the only spot at Deer Run that appeared to have lost it’s fight with old man winter. “Oh, we’ll have that looking as good as the rest of the course in no time,” Assistant Superintendent Bill Newton said with complete confidence. This is as true as the putting greens roll.