90 Years Young At Cannon Golf Club
By Rhett Arens
The sheer number of courses that Twin City golfers have at their fingertips is enough to rattle the brain. If you want to clear your head and breath the fresh air among a stand of 100 year-old oaks while listening to a pristine river roll by, I suggest high-tailing it south to the Cannon Golf Club. Sounds like a haul, but its only 20 minutes south of Hastings, which is only 20 minutes south of St. Paul, which is just east of Minneapolis, which is only 2,151 miles from Pebble Beach.
This year Cannon GC is celebrating its 90th year in existence. Yes, 90! That means some of those beautiful burl oaks were only three feet tall when the club opened in 1927. Now the fairways are lined with them and quite frankly there may not be a more beautiful course in the whole Twin Cities. Elevations? They got it covered. Water? Yes, both rivers and ponds. Meadows of wild grass? Absolutely, a wide variety. Circling eagles? Check, I saw two on my last round there. OK, you get the idea.
General Manager Erik Fox is proud of this natural splendor while maintaining course conditions that year-on-year rank it near the top in the state (surely in the top three along the southern edge of the Twin Cities). The greens are considered the best in many circles. And what could be finer than cruising around this natural beauty in brand new Club Cars – a sizable investment for the 2017 season and one that contributes to the overall playing experience. Erik has seen a trend in recent years where people tend to play faster and keep an eye on the green fees. Given the scenery you may want to slow this round down (within reason) and soak in the surroundings.
The first tee starts things off with a sweeping elevation that works great with a gentle fade. In fact, that gentle fade comes in handy on many of the holes for the righties. Lefties, you know what you have to do. Hole #4 is intimidating. It tightens in the wheelhouse area and has a river encroaching up the right side. Pretty nervy stuff. In fact, the river runs near holes #4, #5 and #14. The front nine closes with a longish par 3 into a sloped green. You can feel good about par on this hole. Holes #11 through #13 all take the interior water into play. Hole #12 is a stunning 150+ yard carry over a shallow pond. There might be egrets, wood ducks, mallards, geese and other waterfowl in sight, so keep your Audubon handbook next your rangefinder. The par 5 #13 has a bit of everything including a disorientating tee shot and a target risk-reward second shot that, if cleared, gives you a nice wedge in. The green has a well-placed bunker protecting it just for good measure. Hole #14 is a par 5 double dogleg that will have you stretching for a few more yards. It finishes with a fairly flat, user-friendly green. The round closes out with an uphill drive through a somewhat narrow stand of tall trees. Things open at the top and then its matter of executing your irons.
The greens range in size and offer a variety of looks including the classic front-to-back slope, some are quite flat and others undulating. If you like variety like I do, it’s a real treat. The condition of the greens is flat out excellent. The fairways are quite wide in spots and will typically offer an ample landing area to shoot for. Not too many of the corners are worth risking a short-cut because those leafy oaks have a way of snagging a well-intentioned drive. Keep in mind your long irons may get a workout scrambling out from underneath the canopy.
The clubhouse is spacious and full of inviting tables. An outdoor patio is inviting and has a great view of the 9th green and the tee boxes on 1 and 10. The grill menu is full of great appetizers and a list of delicious sandwiches. The Cannon Club and BLT are a couple of the standouts. The Friday Night Fish Fry is considered to be one of the best in the area with an $11.50 All-You-Can-Eat Cod with your choice of french fries, tator tots or baked potato and your choice of vegetable or coleslaw. Built in 2006, Cannon’s 5,400 square foot clubhouse offers a full-service restaurant and comfortable bar with seating for 80+. They can also accommodate up to 150 people for banquets. And how nice is it to have a fireplace to keep things cozy for those early spring or late autumn rounds.
As Erik points out, the faithful keep finding their way back. Rounds are growing and the course conditions keep benefiting from the steady reinvestment. It’s time to take a jaunt south to this historic course. Time to let those putts roll on the velvety greens, relax with friends in the new clubhouse and feel the sense of wonder among those majestic oak giants.