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Tee Times Magazine | Minneapolis/St. Paul

Craguns 2017

Fairways & Greens
June 23, 2017

Mississippi National Golf Links - Two Much Love
Mississippi National Highlands Course #17
+ click to enlarge
Mississippi National Highlands Course #17
Mississippi National Tournament Course
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Mississippi National Tournament Course
By E. Nolan

You're guilty. As much as I am anyway. Guilty of breezing through pages in a golf magazine, checking out the pictures, only skimming the words. The question is... what's going to hook you? What's going to make you read an article from beginning to end? (Especially if you've already read about or played the subject of focus.)

How about statistics? Over ninety percent of golf facilities in America only have one approach - one course to hit you with. Over half of those courses are featureless parkland routings, country club knockoffs, and places where the word picturesque is restricted to the framed images inside their clubhouse. And one hundred percent of people playing that half of the national courses wish they were playing a course like either of the options at Mississippi National... in Red Wing, Minnesota. They'd give anything for land and views like these.

How about scenery? The real views... what the course actually looks like (without Photoshop). Mississippi National has two 18-hole courses - the Highlands and the Lowlands. For years I've advocated that "the Lowlands" name sells that course way short - that they should, respectively, be renamed "Peaks" and "Plateaus." Or Vistas and Views. I understand completely that The Lowlands runs across the floor of the beautiful Mississippi Valley, but it still is packed with "panoramas" that you wouldn't expect from the "ground level." The Lowlands rises and falls gracefully across the land it has to work with, and is truly an entertaining round of golf. It certainly doesn't take a back seat to its sibling in the eyes and opinions of locals and regulars. The Highlands is one of those rounds you never forget, but not just for the infinite views from the top of the mountain. It also has stunning shots through valleys and across water, with ponds coming into play on a number of holes. You'll see deer, turkeys, and plenty of other curious spectators throughout your rounds. This is their home... you're just the guest blessed to be playing in their backyard. The Highlands may have more "signature" holes, with towering tee shots, and wildly diverse top-ography, but these courses don't compete against each other... they complement each other.

How about opportunity? And speaking of compliments... Were it not for the vision, passion and commitment of the local Red Wing community, we wouldn't even have these courses to play anymore. Reborn and rejuvenated in 2014 with a new mentality - a new health, wealth, and promise - these courses are in better condition than they've ever been, and showcasing more of what they have, to the benefit of golfers coming in to play them. And, boy, are they coming! Mississippi National draws thousands in annually from all over the region allowing these twin thrillers to also complement Mississippi Golf Trips (weekend and longer) built around local marquees like Troy Burne and The Jewel. With Stay & Play arrangements available through multiple area hotels (via golfredwing.com) you can experience the best of the valley over multiple days... at incredibly high value rates. Especially in the fall. I would advocate that there is NO better time to play these courses than in September and October. So... yes... the best is yet to come. Plan accordingly!

Then what? Okay... you've got two polar opposite (yet similarly beautiful) courses on one property - two high-value rounds at a really low cost - you've got stupendous scenery off the cliffs and bluffs over the Mississippi... you've got other area mainstays to build incredible buddy trips around, and hotels to kick back at. And you want more? Fine. Bagger's Pub at Mississippi National is open every day from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. with a fresh AYCE Friday Night Fish Fry. There's a wedding and banquet hall with floor-to-ceiling windows that can host up to 300, with photographic stages throughout the property for some pretty epic back-dropped keepsakes. You are right on the Mississippi, after all, surrounded by some of its pretty little towns, with plenty of shops and other restaurants to discover.

The verdict. Ask me which course is better and I honestly can't tell you. The Lowlands is probably more playable - more likely to produce better scores. But the Highlands will go shot for shot with most Minnesota courses in the photogenic department. There were some that contended for years that one of the courses should close, to make the property easier to manage. That was never going to work primarily because there was zero consensus on which course would be the easier one to let go. There's too much love for each of them, respectively, and I can't think of a single way that's a bad thing for any of us.

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