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Tee Times Magazine | Minneapolis/St. Paul

Breezy Point

Fairways & Greens
August 16, 2017

Playing For Keeps At Mississippi Dunes
Mississippi Dunes #9 from Doc's Landing
+ click to enlarge
Mississippi Dunes #9 from Doc's Landing
+ click to enlarge
By Rhett Arens

Few golf courses in the world can claim to have the type of vista views and direct connection to a national treasure like the Mississippi Dunes. It's in the name, it comes into view on nearly half of the holes, and its right outside the Twin Cities' backdoor... it's the mighty Mississippi.
The 'Dunes' as many of the members and regulars refer to it is one of the most interesting tracks in the Midwest. The design is challenging to say the least. In fact, it was designed with this purpose in mind. It's a golfer's course. The greens are undulating, the fairways are tight bent grass, but true-to-form there aren't any poorly placed penalty areas. Even the soil on which it is built is considered the optimal mix for golf turf. The course favors those who think and then swing. It's a smart course and will reward those who set-up their second shots and understand that not all approach shots need to be out front. Tip: putting in from the rear is the right choice on a handful of these greens. Another unique feature is the use of 6 par 5's and 6 par 3's and yes, that leaves 6 par 4's. One could argue the slope and ratings are under-stated. However, with a few tips at the clubhouse, especially if you are fortunate enough to hook-up with co-designer/owner William 'Doc' Doebler to get his input, your round can be a golfer's feast for the senses. They don't charge extra for the overhead eagles.
The course layout and features have been fine-tuned over the last 20 years. This has been done with a combination of local PGA caliber input including Dave Tentis (Troy Burne PGA Head Professional) and several consultant sessions including the Greg Norman Design people and a Dye Designs evaluation. There are a handful of holes on the course that have been structured to mirror iconic holes from St. Andrews, Augusta and Pinehurst to name a few - but enough with the name-dropping. The elements and placement are all there but more importantly is the 'intention of play' strategy. Like I said, think before you swing.
There are points on the course where one can feel the Scottish influence of pure links golf. Fairway bunkers that tease the long hitters into trouble like the back-to-back par 5 combo of #13 and #14. There are catch areas that can swallow up a decent approach shot if your iron misses the mark, especially the par 3 sixth. There are target shots which are so fun to work, like the short par 5 third and the longish par 4 tenth. Both of these present a sharp shooters challenge. There will be double-breaker putts that will roll true and fair. Reading them along with the pin placement will be key. Several of those greens are quite large which is fair given the contouring and elevated design.
Doc envisioned a golf course that wouldn't succumb to the lowest common denominator. He foresaw the tremendous growth in golf at the turn of the century and built a course that delivers satisfaction on many return visits. He has also invested heavily in a first class wedding and banquet venue. The river front ballroom's main dining room has views that stretch both upstream and downstream with a veranda walkway wrapping the perimeter. It's the perfect spot for a sunset.
Doc's Landing Bar and Grill is tucked on the lower level and has that warm pub, clubhouse feel that many courses strive for. Plenty of elbow room, but intimate enough to stick around for another round. There is an outdoor patio/dining area that invites guests to watch the action under umbrellas on the par 3 ninth hole. Doc is an avid horticulturist and has planted an incredible variety of plants, which only adds to the beautiful setting. The sandwiches are delicious with hand-cut fries prepared just right. Many of menu items have their origins in Mississippi River specialties like Memphis and St. Louis BBQ and New Orleans Cajun. Golfers can grab a sandwich or a hotdog as they make the turn, which is always nice. The Dunes are also planning to add a finely appointed lounge complete with a top-shelf cocktail menu and foodie options.
Doc is now offering an opportunity for businessmen to treat their customers to a king's treatment with a special high-end club offering premium cocktails, liquor, wine and craft beer along with gourmet food. For example, Doc is serving Trump Wine from Charlottesville, Virginia and 4" thick T-Bone steaks prepared to order served in the new Treehouse with one of the best views in Minnesota!
We are fortunate to have ambassadors of the game like Doc - people that have knowledge and passion, people that understand the historical building blocks that helped evolve the game to higher levels while retaining its traditional values. You can literally feel that commitment when you play the Dunes. I have personally seen Doc stop while working to offer a helpful swing tip to golfers on the course; or words of encouragement to a tourney player; or guidance to a groundskeeper, he is all in.
In the greater Twin Cities we have a multitude of options for a round of golf. Where you golf depends on what you want to get out of the game that day. It could be a casual stroll in the sunshine to enjoy the weather; or a round capped with a high-end lobster dinner; or a working-class long-ball slugfest. Then there is the round where you want to appreciate the subtleties of the game, test your whole spectrum skills, use your head to trim strokes. That is Mississippi Dunes. After the round you sit down with your friends, pay your bets, order a fine craft beer or soda and properly recap the round. That is a good day on earth. Mississippi Dunes offers that in spades.

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