Legends Club – Fully Loaded
By E. Nolan
What are your three favorite courses in the Twin Cities? Top five? As a national golf writer (and course rater) I’m regularly asked to list the 3 or 5 best courses in our biggest metro, so I figured you might as well consider the same. All that I personally love about Legends Club can’t be summarized in a mere page or two, but I can certainly highlight the fact that this fantastic Southwest metro facility in Prior Lake makes BOTH my Top 5 AND Top 3 lists for the Twin Cities. Hole-for-hole, this side of Troy Burne in Hudson, (WI) there is no other course with as much drama as Legends Club, and with roughly 37,000 hotels in the 50 miles between LC and TB every golfer in America (at some point) should stay somewhere in the middle and play BOTH. (The best local 36-hole Stay & Play south of Giants Ridge!)
I don’t often list competing courses in the same article, because it usually favors one over the other, but in this case that wasn’t a concern. A head-to-head between Legends Club and Troy Burne is like determining the better in on-course greatness between Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus. Who really wins that tete-a-tete? Who would have beaten whom in which era? No one REALLY knows, nor does it really even matter. We should all be able to appreciate the merits of both.
As I do. Legends Club is a stellar Gill/Miller design. Sure, I appreciate the Gill parts of the design a little more now, having taken architecture classes from him, but he had to work with what he was given, and he couldn’t have been handed a more beautiful golf property in this part of the state. Stunning is understating it. Do the homes intrude a little? Sure. Do they take away from the fun aspect of the experience? Not at all. I really only notice them when I’m out taking pictures, and I ask myself, “Was that house always there?” (Yes, it was. I just never noticed.)
The residents of Prior Lake are certainly blessed to have this course “in their backyard” and this is far more than just a neighborhood course. Consider this: Legends Club just hosted a U.S. Women’s Open Qualifier, (Yes… the pros and aspiring pros love playing here too.) and… beyond the people who play the course, the National Golf Course OWNERS Association honored Legends Club with their “National Golf Course of the Year” award – the only golf course in the Midwest to EVER receive that award. (Whether you’ve played here before or not, you’re wanting to visit it (again) now aren’t you?)
Both nines are loaded with beauty, challenge and sky-high shot values… LOADED with fun. The front has so many different elements in play, from links-style fescue and mound bounders like the great downhill opener, to woodland and water-lined hybrids like #2. You cut through forests and travel through valleys to reach (apparent) mountaintop greens like the one on the Par 3, 5th. Then you march back down into marshland areas where back-to-back greens make you think thrice about club selection in your approaches, to make sure you don’t have to remember the rules on proper drops out of water. The front closes with another great links liner (whose mound-and-pond-guarded green makes for quite the photo worthy model at sunset).
The back side, deservedly, gets a lot more media attention. Gill/Miller did a fabulous job of building anticipation throughout the round, making sure not to peak too early while giving the player plenty of (wow-look-at-that) peeks ahead. Point blank, I consider Legends Club’s back nine to be one of the 10-best nines in Minnesota, and as I write this I honestly can’t think of FIVE that are better.
Ten heads back out from the clubhouse, wrapping left around water… water that continues to guard the holes (and keep your attention) from 11 to 12 and through 13, where you have to convince your ball to stay in the air a LONG LONG time to get over all that beautiful blue. There are not 10 prettier holes in Minnesota than the Par 3, 13th with its picturesque wooden bridge. (I told you I couldn’t pack all my ovations into one page!) Fourteen is the “Gopher It Hole” – you know you want to, and there’s no harm in trying, and there are two more stunning water holes in the last quartet of quality designs to make you just shake your head and say, “Dang, I was lucky to play here today.”
For all the love I’ve given the course over the years, I’ve given just as much respect and credit the fantastic operational staff. From the pro shop to the sensational Legends Grill (awesome four-sided fireplace), to everything on the course, this is one First-Class Facility in every direction, and YES, I do consider it one of the “10 Best Courses in Minnesota.” As my son likes to say, “You might be right, Dad… but you’re not wrong.”