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Tee Times Magazine | Minneapolis/St. Paul

Craguns 2017

Fairways & Greens
June 23, 2017

St. Croix National - Valley Flair
St. Croix National #7
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St. Croix National #7
St. Croix National #12
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St. Croix National #12
E. Nolan


It's almost like you took a ride in a time machine to get here. One minute you were getting in your DeLorean, or car (whatever), you drove a few miles across the state line (from Stillwater) and BAM... you were there. But where exactly are you? This can't be... "Wait," you say. "This is a Twin Cities course? You're certain we're not in Canada, or Montana... Wyoming or something?"

Nope. While Wisconsin can occasionally feel like a foreign country to Minnesotans, the great WILD golf at St. Croix National is VERY much in our (extended) neck of the... well... metro.

The beauty of Stillwater and the St. Croix River Valley is not at all unfamiliar to Twin Cities' residents. It's the dramatic rollercoaster stage in Somerset that gets the golfing visitors a little flummoxed. And disoriented. But then, it's only right - the west side of the cities has Valleyfair. The east side deserves its own share of amusement park love. Call it "Valleyflair."

Joel Goldstrand's St. Croix National has collected a number of accolades over the years (since it opened in 1996). GolfDigest gave it "4 Stars" on its' Best Places to Play. Minnesota Business Journal considers it one of the Most Hospitable (in service) and alternatively Toughest (to play). It is annually considered a "Twin Cities Best Value" by St. Paul Magazine.

My highest praise goes to the natural stadium that is the entire course. It is wall-to-wall and flora-to-ceiling brilliant greens and beautiful blues. Tree-lined fairways provide a private playground feel to every hole - mostly without the typical metropolitan (visual) home "invasions." I will grant that there are more blind shots than I prefer, and I get an awful lot of wicked bounces, but when you consider what it took to build this course so beautifully, they're kind of hard complaints to take seriously.

I mean seriously, the sheer diversity of shots presented throughout your round is astonishing. Club selection is key on some, free-swinging relief is welcome on others. The hazards are pretty and plenty, the galleries of wildlife are both supportive and entertaining and the Par 3's... well they're extra special. I've been asked to compare this course to others in Minnesota and I really can't. The closest one that comes to mind is Superior National in Lutsen and that's four hours from the Cities. True, you're not on or near Lake Superior at St. Croix National, but with "National" in both of their names surely they're at least related. Distant cousins, maybe?

I'll operate under that assumption for this article. Steep drops from tee boxes, stunning panoramic views, boulder and pond lined greens with bridges, creeks, fountains and other accentuated scenic features scattered throughout. It makes for one of those "out of this world but very much in it" kinds of golf experiences.

My intense international travel schedule keeps me from spending sufficient quality time on area courses, but I love my spring and summer visits to St. Croix National for a few specific perks it provides. It has a great little practice facility (a range and chipping area)... and their 19th hole... well, you've got to see it to believe it!

The service is always personable and appreciative of each guest. You can feel like you have the entire course to yourself at many points throughout the round, and it's almost impossible to walk away disappointed in your experience. Any part of it. It's always well worth the drive, and one of the five or six places I circle in the metro that I earnestly try to get to each year.

It is a significant test from the tips - consider moving up a tee box on your first visit - but rest assured you'll score ten strokes better your second time. Regardless of where you play from. I don't mind the difficulty - although I seem to make it triple tough on myself on many holes, and find that the many areas of my game I really need to work on (like uneven lies) are presented just enough to let me test my lessons out. Great greens, thick rough, and a variety of bounces - both ways - it's a fun test and testament to everything a great round of golf should be.
St. Croix National has a renowned event center, perfect for hosting weddings, group outings and corporate events. There are two stellar outdoor ceremony sites with a waterfall, fountain and bridge backdrop on one and an amazing valley vista on the other. The newly decorated Venue seats over 250 and offers an assortment of marquee catering options. Pretty incredible site for events overall.

Beauty is certainly the most redundant highlight of this property - in every element. And personally, I love it when nature is the loudest endorsement.







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