Red Wing Golf Club – Heart Of The River Valley Golf Trail
By E. Nolan
Barely over a half-hour drive from the Twin Cities, Red Wing Golf Club is nestled in the quiet, sandy bluffs along the Mississippi River in the beautiful Hiawatha River Valley. Abundantly blessed with rolling hills covered in majestic forests, with spring floral and fall foliage arrangements to die for, and even a 7,500-foot deep bat cave (system), this local-favorite course provides as much lively wildlife as it does life-enriching golf. (Yes, supposedly golf is good for your health… even the way I play it.)
A relatively short course, at only 6,190 yards, Red Wing Golf Club features a pretty and tight version of “target golf,” with many elevated tee shots launching out towards severely undulating fairways and greens. The pro shop staff is quick to remind you that positioning and accuracy will reward you far more than your power, something those of us without much power definitely appreciate. I’ve played Red Wing Golf Club with and without woods (Driver and 3 Wood) and scored better without them, so I deem it a valuable iron-refining round if that’s a part of your game you need to work on.
A quick tour around the course reveals as much gorgeous within the confines of the independent golf holes as there is in the rugged, surrounding sandstone bluffs. New course superintendent, Brent Doerhoefer, has made some major improvements to the bunkers, and the new high-tech greens mower has really made the greens rock (and roll). The front nine is certainly tree-lined, but so favorably set up to make it feel like every hole plays downhill. Tight as the opening three are, the scenic and short par 3, 4th plays over a pond to an inversely wide-open green. Don’t take that transparency for granted. Do take advantage. The 360-yard par 4, 7th is my favorite hole on the front nine, another downhill winder with a dip before the green and a pond protecting the left side. Suffice it to say, as “short” as this course might be, its many pinched places make it sufficiently “long” in the teeth. You’ll find all the challenge you need out here.
The back nine is more of the same tightness and challenging, but (in my opinion) provides a little more to love. For instance, I LOVE the 10th hole, a great drop shot over a wood fence to a wide-open green. (Reminds me of the famous signature hole at Banff Springs, just without the Rocky Mountain backdrop.) Flipping the script on the downhill routine, the par 3, 13th makes you climb to reach your goal, an almost surprising twist to the design that you might as well get used to because you keep climbing up 14 and 15 to reach one of the highlight (and highest) shots on the course. Sixteens’s towering tee shot takes you steeply down then sharply left, resulting in a cool, tree-guarded approach you won’t want to go right on. Another hole, I truly love, it sets up a great finish to an overall rather fun round.
Off the course, the hickory-golf inspired Brassie Spoon serves as a great event center for banquets and golf groups, while “Bar 19” is a great, high-tech post-round place to feast on foods from the new kitchen, discuss your golf game and/or watch various national sports events on the high-def TVs.
Further off the course, Red Wing golfers are presented with a unique professional benefit. Dr. Ryan Lystad (aka “The Swing Doctor”) applies his chiropractic experience to use in sports mechanics with soft-tissue rehab and Titleist Performance Institute techniques to address game “deficiencies” and benefit your physical/athletic health. In other words, he makes you play and feel better. (Double the pleasure, double the fun.)
What could be better than doubling your pleasure? Tripling it, obviously. And the three courses of the River Valley Golf Trail (Red Wing Golf Course, Clifton Highlands and Gopher Hills) come together to provide exceptional service (centered around the motto: “Exceeding Expectations Inside and Out”) and value, especially in their Stay & Play packages. The “Tee-Fore-Two” Golf Packages are available at any of the three courses, offering unlimited golf and lodging at The AmericInn in Red Wing or either of the Nichols Inns in Hastings or Red Wing, starting at only $159/night (double occupancy). And, if you’re a fan of deals (like everyone else on earth), all three courses work with the mobile apps Best Approach and GolfNow to occasionally make the very real values almost unreal.
Enjoyed daily by many of Red Wing’s 17,000 residents, Red Wing Golf Club, (built in 1915) is a classic, American woodland design, an up and down round you’re bound to enjoy anytime, but especially in the fall, when the local colors are booming.