Fox Hollow – Plenty To Crow About

By E. Nolan

I was on the bus with a complete stranger (about thirty of them in fact) heading to the Warriors/Wolves NBA game, when the guy nodded at me and asked. “You ever played Fox Hollow up here?” I’m guessing it was my Bandon Dunes jacket and hat that betrayed my golfing passion. “No,” I replied. “Why?” “Awesome Par 3,” the guy said. “Ah,” I nodded. “Cool.” That was it (strange conversation) until my editor asked me the same thing for this issue. “You ever played Fox Hollow?” (I still hadn’t.) “No,” I shook my head, “but I hear they have a great Par 3.”

Truth be told, they’ve got a whole lot more than that. First, the location in St. Michael (near the Albertville Premium Outlets, with the Crow River flowing right along side seven of the holes) is perfect for easy access from I-94 and Highway 101. The course layout offers a unique mix of open parkland feel and tight, tree-lined trouble, with some pretty stunning riverfront real estate throughout. Many courses in similar settings have to worry about flooding. Not Fox Hollow. Not any more. It was built to tolerate the rise and fall of water… built to flourish all season long. Even that famous/infamous Par 3 (Hole 3), perched perfectly out in the middle of the Crow River on its own island is (permanently) on solid ground. (Unless we get hit by a tidal wave.)

“Someone told me it used to flood out here,” I said to General Manager Eric Larson (also the club’s Head Pro). “Thankfully, that’s in the past. We just finished a redesign on the Back 9 that raised two fairways and drastically improved the two holes that always had golfers grumbling,” Eric replied. “Now, you won’t find a better finishing four in the metro. It’s so good, we had to name it.” I should have guessed the name because it fits perfectly, but Eric was happy to wait for the big reveal at the 15th tee box. “Behold… The Fox Tail.”

The Fox Tail IS pretty flashy. Creative course architecture mixes with plenty of picturesque value and phenomenal conditions throughout the finishing four. Let me give you a quick “wag” – #15 is a short downhill Par 3 along the river. The elevation drop is deep and dramatic. The two newly renovated holes on the course are 16 and 17. Hole 16 shoots out from a chute of trees – a short Par 4 angling out to a green clinging to the river bank, and 17 is another short Par 4 with an intimidating tee shot that sets up an approach into one of Fox Hollow’s signature multi-tiered greens. And then you cap “The Fox Tail” at 18 with an uphill drive to a most memorable three-tiered green. “Impressive,” I said to Eric after the tour. “Isn’t it?” he smiled.

“Can’t believe I’ve never played here,” I muttered. Eric laughed. “You live in Rochester!” I nodded. “Still. This place is worth the (2.5 hour) drive.” “So, what was your favorite hole?” Eric asked. I couldn’t help myself… I’m a total glutton for punishment. “I have to go with #3.” Eric wasn’t surprised. “Amazing isn’t it?”

“It’s in my Twin Cities Dream 18 now,” I replied. Honestly, that’s one of the prettiest tee shots in Minnesota, and a sublime place to be at sunset. “Did you see the foxes?” Eric asked. “There are actually foxes out here?” (Another laugh from Eric.) “Many.” There’s plenty of wildlife along the Crow River, from fox to deer, eagles, swans and more.” (So close to the city.) “That’s so awesome,” I mumbled. (I LOVE it when a course name fits.)

Standing on the patio at Fox Hollow, overlooking the 1st and 10th holes, is impressive in its own right. The smells from the Fox Hollow Grill behind you mixed with the panoramic views in front of you… I could sit there for hours (all the while wishing I’d managed to par the third hole).

“Are there leagues out here?” (I’m tempted to join and come up from Rochester.) Eric nodded. “A big Men’s Club. Two ladies’ leagues. A great junior program. We’ve got a phenomenal golf instructor, Mike Seiffert, who’s one of less than a dozen PGA Master Professionals for Teaching in all of Minnesota.” I absorbed the content, very impressed. “Seems like an idyllic course for tournaments, too.”

Turns out plenty of people think so. There are so many groups that have been coming to Fox Hollow for years, raving about the escape from the city, the challenging course, great conditions and that one Par 3. “Do you ever get tired of people talking about that Par 3?” I asked Eric. “No way,” he replied. “It’s what got you up here wasn’t it?” (Yeah…it kind of was.)

It should get everyone up here. No matter whether you’re a single, a foursome, a golf group, or a bride and groom looking for a wedding site, Fox Hollow will make your day. Your first spin around the property will yield so much beauty, so much anticipation, and so many smiles.

“You’ve got a special place here,” I said, bidding Eric a “see you next week.” “Thank you,” he replied, “I’m glad you think so.” (I’m confident everyone will.)

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