Timber Creek Golf Course – Fall In Love This Summer

By E. Nolan

If you haven’t been to Timber Creek in the past three years, you’ve been missing out on a LOT of NEW. If you’ve never been there, let me tell you why NOW is the time to go check out one of the better values in the west metro. New ownership brought in plenty of changes, visually subtle but effectively dramatic, turning an already pretty and quiet parkland playground into a much more golfer-friendly, playable paradise.

To quickly orient you on the location of this serene golf setting, picture the thousand little beautiful lakes just west of the Twin Cities? Yeah, Timber Creek is right in there, technically in Watertown (but closer), only 18 miles west of where 394 intersects with 494. The most important aspect of the course location is the diverse local topography the architect drew into the design. While surrounded by corn and soybean fields, most of the course itself is beautiful trees, plenty of water (though most of it NOT in play), and some pretty creative mounding and natural borders used to shape the individual golf holes. You feel like you’re so much further away from the city, which makes the cost to play feel that much more valuable.

Timber Creek gets plenty of regional respect for great and personable service, as well as their fantastic (and frequently used) setup for hosting group events and tournaments. One local golfer described the club as “no frills, but plenty of thrills” which I think is selling the experience somewhat short. (I consider friendly service a “frill.”) General Manager Brooks Ellingson enjoys the surprise of guests who visit Timber Creek for the first time. “People don’t realize how many different challenges our course affords. You start to think flat and wetlands and don’t realize how great the shaping and landscaping really is. With all the changes we’ve made to conditioning and playability over the past couple years, we’re steadily moving up the rankings of favorite local courses, which is great. All we can ask is that golfers come check us out, and we think they’ll love us and keep coming back.”

It is the norm for course managers to speak of their own course as if it is something exceptional and memorable, which is why I always appreciate managers whose perceptions match reality – the ones that tell me they’re ACTIVELY trying to get better every year (suggesting there is room and willingness for improvement) even when they’re already recognized as “really good.” Brooks Ellingson is under no illusion that his place is “complete.” Very hands-on, he has his hands daily in many different projects across the property. “We love this place, of course, but we also listen to people and act,” he says, “and our regular golfers get to see that. We are always a work in progress, determined to improve in some capacity every year.” (Love the humility. They’re really making some great improvements!)

At 6,621 yards from the tips, many mistakenly perceive Timber Creek as a “short course” until they play it. There’s enough distance on every hole… enough to factor into each shot… to assure no one who has been out here judges the course by yardage numbers. This is a course that should be evaluated based on “fun factor” and unique shots, of which there are MANY.

There are doglegs heading in every direction, (much fewer blind shots than before) and a number of hazards to keep in consideration throughout your round, such as sand traps, wandering creeks and some perfectly (or imperfectly) placed trees. I consider this much more of a course for iron specialists than drive-bombers, rewarding those who can use the long and short clubs with equally mid-to-high skill. The bentgrass greens have gotten firmer and smoother every year (which I love). They aren’t large targets, and it’s ill advised to attack back pins as you can’t really play from behind most greens, but you can play nearly every green from the front fringe on up with ease. It’s a course suited for the smart player (which my wife loves).

There are a number of great holes here, including the third with its guardian creek (and two greens) beside the little covered bridge. The massive double-sized target on #6 is super fun for a Par 3, providing many different pin placements. Nine swings by the clubhouse, and leads you to a stellar finish with the Par 3 16th possibly being my favorite shot on the course and #17 (crossing two water bodies) definitely being the hardest hole (for me) to score well on (though it is so fun to play)!

You’ll find much to appreciate in a round here, and plenty of reasons to come back. Good food, great service, and the potential for even better times (based on who you bring out with you)… that’s what a day at Timber Creek is all about.

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