Cedar Creek – “Up A Creek”
By E. Nolan
“Up a creek” usually means trouble. Look up this Creek though (Cedar Creek) and you’ll find a whole lot of good things. (Okay…and maybe a little trouble.)
The northwest metroburbs of Minneapolis are ripe with rewarding fairways, tees and greens-with courses that should get considerably more attention and inversely less discretion. Cedar Creek in Albertville (yes, the same Albertville as the popular outlet shopping center) is one such “metro MUST play.”
Given Cedar Creek’s popularity with golf groups and events, I can’t legitimately call this a “hidden gem.” It’s a gem, but it isn’t hidden-just off Interstate 94, it’s easy access for pretty much everyone. Obviously they benefit from the massive amounts of shopping nearby, but with St. Cloud only half an hour up the road and downtown Minneapolis only a half hour south, they’ve nailed the real estate mantra of “location, location, location.”
General Manager, Chris Sauer, says, “There’s lots of great golf around Albertville and Otsego, with (36 holes at) Riverwood National just north of us. More and more people are exploring these suburban tracks and finding out what we’ve got, and once they find us…”
He’s too modest to continue, but one look around the parking lot tells you what he was going to say. “They keep coming back.” And once you get out of the parking lot, and onto the first tee, it’s pretty obvious why. This is a fun track that is so much more rural than it is urban, and every bit as naturally landscaped as it is manufactured. The houses are shoved so far back from the field of play, with walls of trees (and some water) separating the player from civilization throughout.
A few of the opening holes parallel and/or connect to power lines, uniquely adding to the “electric” nature of the routing. Otherwise, the front is pretty “grip it and rip it,” with plenty of broad, grass landing areas and wide, receptive greens. Water does step in on hole #3, and never really leaves, but just because it’s “in play” doesn’t mean it’s really a hazard. For instance, the great Par 3, 4th hole has a marsh carry, but such a huge target that the knees never come close to knocking. There’s two other Par 3s in the next few holes, at 6 and 8, before you face off with the hardest hole on the front (in my opinion), with water running down the left side, back to the clubhouse.
The back, similarly great, starts with a hole that feels a lot like the 9th-it’s just 100 yards longer and with one of the more unforgettable approaches on the course. If it wasn’t for my daughter pointing out swimming pools and playsets at houses I probably wouldn’t have even noticed they were there, and with features like the great, white wooden fence bordering the awesome Par 5, 12th hole, I’m always more than sufficiently enthralled with the ON course to ever let the OFF course detract.
I asked Chris Sauer what he likes most about this place, and he basically agreed with my perspective. “The rural factor. We feel like we’re so far out of town aesthetically but we’re not…not geographically. All the marsh areas, ponds, beauty and wildlife…I don’t know how else to describe it.”
I don’t think you have to try.
The back continues to mix in marsh and water. My favorite hole on the back side is the risk/reward, awfully pretty, drivable Par 4, 16th. I’m not suggesting there isn’t plenty of trouble to skirt on the way from the tee to the green, but that eagle putt (or short eagle chip) sure is a fun shot to take! And (if you’re better than me…which you pretty much have to be) you might even make it.
Regardless as to whether the course is packed or half-packed, the flow is good-way more calm and control than chaos. Sub-four-hour rounds are the norm most days, and the fun factor is through the roof. Also through the roof are the smells from the Cedar Creek Grill, where they throw new menu items at you seasonally with some pretty amazing flavors (burgers, sandwiches, pizza, etc.) and dare you to finish it all.
Cedar Creek has great practice facilities, booming leagues and a blossoming Juniors program. With a strong community feel, it is already “the place to be” for so many…you might as well join in. Go ahead and look “Up a Creek”-Cedar Creek.
“The place where friends play golf!”