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Tee Times Magazine | Minneapolis/St. Paul

Craguns 2017

Fairways & Greens
June 23, 2017

Territory Golf Club - From Unknown To Unforgettable
Territory Golf Club Clubhouse at Dusk Photo Courtesy Dan Stephenson
+ click to enlarge
Territory Golf Club Clubhouse at Dusk Photo Courtesy Dan Stephenson
Territory Golf Club #8
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Territory Golf Club #8
By E. Nolan

You've heard the expression, "If I wanted your opinion, I'd give it to you." It's the not indirect way of saying, "I'll tell you what to think." Kind of a jerk move. Or is it? What if what I'm telling you to think is exactly right, and you would agree if you were as experientially informed? Hmmm... Let's test it out with this...

Territory Golf Club, outside St. Cloud, Minnesota, is the most underrated golf course in Minnesota. I know it, you (might) know it, and the American people (ought to) know it. This isn't like picking the lesser evil in a political contest. It's no contest at all because there really isn't even another close contender. We could vote on it... nominate several other candidates and make it seem like there's room for debate... but there really isn't.

To be fair, I've only played 145 courses in Minnesota. There's a chance I've missed a sleeper or two out there. This also isn't an "original claim" given that this is the fourth year in a row I've made it. But the whole point of making wild blanket assessments like this one is to start a debate, to spark intrigue... to get your motors running a little northwest of the Twin Cities to tell me if I'm wrong. (Your experience is way more important to the "authenticity" of the "underrated" claim than mine.) The truth, as I see it, is that if you've never played Territory Golf Club before, you don't know what you're missing. (Thank you, Captain Obvious.) On the other hand, if you have played it... tell me... am I wrong? Have YOU found a more enjoyable golf surprise in Minnesota? (Didn't think so.)

Let me be clear, underrated doesn't mean best. The definition is closer to "under the radar." Territory Golf Club is underrated in large part because it isn't attached to a mega resort in the Brainerd Lakes... it isn't one of the three Jeffrey Brauer designs in the Boundary (waters) Triangle... it isn't in the Twin Cities. The Territory is an outlier to all the golf hubs, and therefore a lesser known. (Way more people know about the Albertville Premium Outlets nearby - only 30 miles away.) That is not the fault of the marketing or the design. It's just an irrefutable fact. Not enough people know about Territory Golf Club yet. But, as a professional course rater for one of the major national golf publications, I absolutely consider Territory Golf Club to be a Top 10 Public Course in Minnesota. And while I'm not going to specify exactly where on the list it is, that really shouldn't matter. Why? Because in a state with several hundred public golf courses, "Top 10" is exceptional... any way you look at it. "Top 10" means MUST PLAY. Period.

Territory Golf Club is a links-style course - and it isn't. It's a parkland course - and it isn't. It has dunes, rivers, lakes, trees, bridges, animals, forced carries and wide-open fairways. It is a mélange-a-many - a hybrid that doesn't slice or fade, but just cuts straight to the heart. I fell in love with TGC on my first visit and had to go back to see if the whole affair had just been an infatuation. Nope. It was like old school Coca-Cola - the "Real Thing." What ticked me off (on my first visit) four years ago, which I've never really gotten over, is how many times I'd driven past it without ever knowing it was there... how many times I missed out on a perfect opportunity to experience such a memorable and incredible value golf round. I could've known what I didn't know a whole lot earlier! (And Captain Obvious returns!)

If you've ever wanted to play nationally ranked powerhouses like Erin Hills (site of the 2017 US Open) or the Blackwolf Run courses in Kohler, but didn't have the time, energy, or money to drive eleven hours round trip from the Twin Cities (twenty-seven during road construction season), Territory Golf Club is a little bit both of those, and a lot a bit easier. The front nine is the Erin Hills side - links, fescue, mounds and lush open fairways - with signature (fun) holes galore. The back nine is the Blackwolf side - tight, tree-lined, water-loaded... tougher, with gorgeous holes like the par 3 at 11, and a 1-2 finishing punch that will have you circling back (very soon) to play it again!

It's an arsenal of awesome at the base of a 12,000 square foot clubhouse which hosts the Coyote Moon Grille, and is perfectly suited to accommodate the other significant events in your life (beyond golf rounds) - weddings, banquets, etc. You can no longer legitimately plead ignorance. You know Territory Golf Club is here. And there's no better time than the present to check it out.

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