Fairways & Greens
August 18, 2017
|Baker National Golf Course
The 1957 Legislature's Golden Investment
|Baker National #1|
|Baker National #7|
Tim CotroneoGolfers playing Baker National Golf Course today should take a moment to thank the 1957 Minnesota Legislature. That's the year our state officials made the bold move to purchase the 27,000-acres of land that includes Baker National in Medina.
Attention to detail amidst a lush green environment is clear everywhere you look at Baker. From their upscale pro shop, to a golf course setting that rivals most private enclaves, Baker National is one of the crowning moments in Minnesota real estate investment history.
Baker National exudes a unique feeling. Manager Jeff May attributes this feeling to two things his course is gratefully missing. "You won't find any houses, and you won't find any roads on our golf course. Golfers love playing in the interior of a park reserve. You're in the city, but it feels like up north," May said.
Oh What A Feeling
Hints to this up north feeling happen long before teeing it up on Baker's Par 4, 466-yard first hole. As city slickers drive along County Road 24, you may notice a road sign that can't be found in downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul. The sign reads, "Slow down when horses are present."
There is a certain well-kept charm to the ranches, farms, and homes leading up to Baker's stone-gated entrance. This charm factor doubles down on Baker's iconic first hole.
Perched on a hill to the right of Baker's first green sits a red barn. The barn occupied this very spot prior to the course being built. Rather than tear it down, the course architect, Dr. Michael Hurdzan, believed the barn added character to the course. If you have any doubt as to whether this was a smart move, today number one is fondly referred to as "the barn hole."
Minnesota's Slammin' Sammy
May shared that Baker's long-time Superintendent Gary Klingelhoets has gone to great lengths to make his workplace more player friendly. Even with recent fairway expansion and rough shortening, Baker is a challenge for golfers who pay more attention to the spectacular views than course management.
A visitor asked May if there's been a golfer who brought Baker to its knees? He replied by displaying a scorecard with a signature that is recognizable among recent Minnesota golf success stories. Baker's course record holder is none other than 2016 Masters participant Sammy Schmitz.
Schmitz shot a scorching 67 during the 2013 Pub Links Golf Tournament. Schmitz' record setter included an eagle and two bogies.
To say that Baker National sits on prime real estate is an understatement. The golf course's scenic acreage is rich in wildlife, and the chances of spotting a whitetail deer, a bald eagle or an osprey are good. In fact, Baker National is one of the few courses in Minnesota honored as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.
The Three Rivers Park District surrounding Baker National is a year-round outdoor wonderland. You may notice that the Frank Lloyd Wright-styled clubhouse resembles a ski chalet. With the clock ticking on our golf season, it won't be long before Baker's rolling hills transition into one of Minnesota favorite destinations for cross country skiing.
For now, let's savor the days we have left in our precious golf season. Golfers taking advantage of Baker National in September and October are in for a special treat. Baker delivers a fall colors setting that is second to none.
An Artist's Touch
Highlights of your Baker round begin during warm-ups. Baker's massive driving range is one of the most picturesque in the whole state. The range is elevated and features a tiered western exposure that goes on for miles.
Throughout the course you'll find geographic surprises. The water holes are especially photogenic, starting with the 5th and 6th holes where Lake Spurzem comes into play. The 7th hole is memorable for the shimmering image reflected on the pond separating the tee box and the green. This Par 3 frames a scene that could be a Redlin painting.
One of the most memorable touches that will linger from your Baker golf experience are the wooden signs posted on each tee box. The signs reveal that someone had the foresight to name each hole and include a description sharing the story behind the name.
One hole is dubbed Meadow Glade, another is Cattail Flats, and the 7th hole with the reflection pool is christened Pondscape. "Attention to detail" is so ingrained into Baker National Golf Course, you'll wonder if the 1957 Legislature chiseled those three words into the bill they wisely approved. There is no denying that Baker National Golf Course is a special part of 27,000 acres that's still delivering dividends today.
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