Heritage Links Golf Club Turns 20
By Steve Manthis
Wow! We’ve had a great stretch of weather recently. While some may wish to spend this time of year seeking out the water, I find myself doing the opposite: I’m trying to make my golf ball avoid the water hazards – and whatever else may get in the way of a par. One great place to try to accomplish this task is Heritage Links Golf Club, which is located just a few miles from I35 in Lakeville. From Minneapolis, take I35 south past Burnsville to exit 81, go west, and you’ll be there in a few minutes. Good news for those who know the area; the construction on the road to the golf course is complete. Just one turn off the highway and its time to tee it up.
Head professional Brett Martinson has been at the course for several years now, and he says the course is in the best shape it’s ever been in. “It has become more player-friendly and it really has matured well,” says Martinson. The course began a bunker restoration a few years ago and it has been completed. They removed some non-essential bunkers and reshaped some others. One clear example is #10, a short par 4 with an elevated green. After a well-placed iron for a tee shot, the approach to the green requires accuracy. If you hit it short, your ball will roll back several yards, or, if it’s a little to the side, it will catch one of the two renovated bunkers. “They’re not pot bunkers,” says Martinson, “but they have been reshaped well.”
The other hole featuring new bunkers is the par four 13th. At just 256 yards from the gold tees, some might try to drive the green. There used to be a huge bunker in front of the green, but it has been reshaped and made smaller. It’s not just bombs away, however. That bunker will catch a lot of balls, and if you don’t end up in the bunker you might have a gnarly lie in the grass around that bunker.
When I played there recently, my buddy Danny and I teed off on #10 as there was a junior event going on that day. Martinson says things have been busy at the course, and feels the junior program is one of the premier ones in the area. They have over 100 juniors involved in various camps and lessons, not to mention the Junior Playing Academy, which works on specific drills, skills, trouble shots and everything in between.
John Means, former coach at the University of Minnesota, also gives lessons and runs the Advanced Junior Camp, which meets for 8 hours, 4 days in a row.
Martinson is proud to have the MGA junior team championship at Heritage Links this year. The event will be on July 31 – August 1 and should be a tough test for the players. Lakeville Sough High School uses Heritage Links as their home course and of all the courses in the conference, Martinson says Heritage Links had the highest scoring average. That statistic is a testament to the course’s difficulty. With a slope rating of 126, the course presents a challenge to all golfers. Martinson calls it “a good test of golf. It’s deceiving – even though there are some places without a lot of trees, you can’t just spray it.”
I’d have to agree. It’s definitely a golf course where you have to control your shots. If you don’t, then your golf ball can easily end up in some place you don’t want it to be. The best advice I can give you is to make sure you grab a complimentary course guide when you check in to play. It will certainly help you steer clear of the bad places where you might lose your ball. I know I lost a couple and Danny gave a few Noodles to the golf gods.
In addition to the many opportunities for juniors at Heritage Links, another highlight is the new Couples’ Nights they occasionally offer. Once or twice a month, on a Friday, you and your significant other can play golf (a two-person scramble), and have dinner all for only $60. Couples’ Night has a theme too. Most recently it was Red, White and Blue for the 4th of July holiday. The next one will be July 21st and have a baseball theme. Contact the pro shop or visit the website (www.heritagelinks.com) for further information.
Also in the works is a 20th Anniversary celebration. Martinson says there will be something to commemorate their second decade, but it’s still in the planning stages.
Whether you go there for this celebration or not, make your way out to Heritage Links this summer – 20 years old and going strong.