The Wilds Golf Club In Prior Lake-A Great Place To Elevate Your Game
By Tim Cotroneo
What is the farthest distance you’ve been able to see in any direction from a golf course? At The Wilds Golf Club you’re treated to a spectacular panoramic view before you’ve even hit one shot.
Driving up to The Wilds’ clubhouse is a visual feast unto itself. This is golf curb appeal at its finest. Look north, south, east, or west and your eyes will feel like high-powered binoculars. When course designer Tom Weiskopf was first asked if he could work with the acreage devoted to The Wilds, he had to feel like a kid handed the keys to a candy store.
The eye candy extravaganza continues on the first tee box. If you believe in target golf, then the question is this: “Do you aim at the giant windmill, the teepee at Mystique Lake, or the water tower?” Don’t resist the urge to share a “wow” with your playing partners. Elevations are definitely the name of the game at the Minnesota public course that Golf Digest rated Number One in 1998.
Passion for the Game: If you have a passion for the game of golf, you’ll love the vibe circulating throughout The Wilds.
General Manager Shad Gordon is as passionate about his place of employment today as he was when he began caddying and cleaning spikes. Ask Gordon about The Wilds and he almost levitates from his chair. “This is my home. It’s a great feeling to do something you love,” Gordon said.
Golfers are greeted in the parking lot and course questions are addressed in the pro shop. The goal is to make sure you’re comfortable with your surroundings and know exactly where to find the practice areas and tee boxes. The driving range is massive and meticulously groomed. Superintendent Wes Stoneback won the war waged by the infamous winter of 2011 and The Wilds is now in pristine condition.
A Magical Golf Lesson: The Wilds is home to Golf Professional Craig Merriman. “Craig will customize a lesson plan based on your individual needs. This is true whether you need a 30-minute tune up prior to a tournament or if you’re looking for a program that will raise your game to the next level. I’ve never met anyone who can look at a swing, analyze it, and make everything sound so simple. Craig is like magic,” Gordon said.
The Wild is also proud of how their Junior Program has developed over the years. “When we first started back in 1995, we had 10 kids golfing. Today we’ve got programs that range from kids playing once per week to parent/child leagues playing every Sunday evening. We currently have 300 kids participating in our Junior Programs,” Gordon said.
Reputation Precedes: In the 16 short years of its existence, The Wilds has gained a stellar reputation for tournament golf, its Temperature Promotion, and its lavish Sunday Brunch. In each case, The Wilds’ goal is deliver more than they promise and provide customers with a memorable course experience.
Tournaments: The Wilds reputation for orchestrating a tremendous tournament happening has spread beyond its Minnesota borders. Tournament attendees have come from far and wide due to The Wilds’ “we’ll deliver” promise. Past tournament pledges have included shotgun starts at just about any time of day or night, as well as tourneys featuring Blackhawk helicopters touching down and butlers serving chocolate-covered strawberries on the course.
Temperature Promotion: In a state where the weather seems to have a mind of its own, what can a course do to bring in golfers during the spring and fall months? The Wilds extremely popular solution is “Pay the Temperature.” In other words, golfers pay $1 per degree for the cost of your round. Whereas everyone likes a good deal, Gordon warns that in Minnesota, you have to be careful what you wish for.
Sunday Brunch: Each Sunday, The Wilds prepares what they promote as “The Largest Sunday Brunch South of the River”. Adults enjoy all you can eat for $14.95 and children under 12 eat for $7.95.
Elevation Celebration: Golf is a sport where the focus is on looking forward and anticipating what lies before you. The Wilds is a course where you are also rewarded for looking back. Whether you’re standing on the first tee box or at the extreme vantage point behind the 13th green, take the time to turn around. The elevations at your back offer views that are some of the sweetest you’ll find anywhere in the Midwest. Like Tom Weiskopf discovered before you, The Wilds will have you golfers like a kid holding the keys to a candy store.