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Tee Times Magazine | Minneapolis/St. Paul

Breezy Point

Fairways & Greens
August 18, 2017

Cannon Golf Club - Golf Nirvana
Cannon Golf Club #12 Photo Courtesy Dennis Shaw
+ click to enlarge
Cannon Golf Club #12 Photo Courtesy Dennis Shaw
Cannon Golf Club #7 Photo Courtesy Dennis Shaw
+ click to enlarge
Cannon Golf Club #7 Photo Courtesy Dennis Shaw
Tim Cotroneo


What do the rock group Nirvana, Zebulon Pike, and 18 of Minnesota's most exquisite putting greens have in common? Over the past 200 years, all three are linked to the river town city of Cannon Falls.

Curt Cobain and Nirvana found their way to Cannon Falls Pachyderm Studio in 1993 to record their album, "Utero." In 1806, Brigadier General Zebulon Pike christened the city "Cannon Falls" after misinterpreting how French explorers pronounced the "canoes" seen along the river and waterfalls. Ever since Superintendent Jack Backstrom came on board at Cannon Golf Club 27 years ago, the putting greens are known far and wide as some of the best in Minnesota.

Today's version of Cannon Falls and Cannon Golf Club is a delicious mix of old and new. Cannon Falls, built in 1927, is home to dozens of the most mature oak trees you'll find anywhere on any course. What's new is the golf club's welcoming hometown approach to a Joel Goldstrand re-design that is steeped in history.

Like A Rock
After pulling up to the Cannon Golf Club's well-appointed clubhouse, you can't miss the rock monument positioned in front of the golf cart area. The boulder's inscription reveals that the course was established nearly a century ago. There's a definite feeling of cared-for pride emanating from the colorful landscape connecting the clubhouse, practice green, driving range, and patio.

Speaking of patio, the outdoor seating expanse overlooking the 10th tee box is one of the nicest you'll find at any Minnesota golf course. Whether you're sipping a pre-round cup of coffee or a post-round craft beer, this al fresco environment helps you get in touch with your inner golfer.

There is a sense of appreciation and charm about playing river golf in a country setting. Cannon Golf Club is an easy 30-minute commute on Highway 52 from St. Paul. Newcomers will realize that although this 6,500-yard layout isn't uncomfortably long, it's definitely a test to play a course framed in Shaquille-sized trees and water coming into play on several holes.

A River Runs Through It
The front nine is an introduction to immaculate conditions, fast greens, and a course management reward. The Par 5, 463-yard 4th hole, and the Par 4, 348-yard 5th hole showcase the Cannon River on your right. Pay attention to how your senses react to the 4th hole tee box environment. The combined sounds of birds singing and river waves churning blend poetically with a soothing ultra-quiet environment. This all-natural embrace seems to comfort the attentive golfer like a child's favorite blanket.

The back nine offers an interesting change of pace with two distinct par fives running back-to-back on 13 and 14. This bombers delight duo is precluded by a classic Par 3, the 168-yard, 12th hole features water on either side. The Cannon Golf Club's back nine closes like the last page of your favorite book. You'll hate to see your round end.

Window Watching And Fishful Thinking
Once you get back inside the clubhouse, it's impossible to ignore the glass walls facing south. You'll experience a unique dynamic watching golfers pound their drives off the first tee box. You're literally just a few feet away from the "whoosh" of a backswing. With a pane of glass as the only buffer, this may be the only clubhouse where you can comfortably multi-task by critiquing a fellow golfer's follow-through while savoring the beverage of your choice.

There's a special bonus if you happen to finish your round on a Friday afternoon. The Cannon Golf Club is known for miles around as hosting one of the best Friday Fish Fries on the planet. For just $11.25, it's all you can eat cod, cole slaw, and potato. Top your dinner off with a Summit Pale Ale, and you'll describe your day in Cannon Falls as something of a golf nirvana.






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