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Tee Times Magazine | Minneapolis/St. Paul

Breezy Point

Fairways & Greens
August 18, 2017

Keller Golf Course - Stellar Keller
Tee Times' writer R.J. Smiley teeing off on Keller #4
+ click to enlarge
Tee Times' writer R.J. Smiley teeing off on Keller #4
Keller Clubhouse Fireplace
+ click to enlarge
Keller Clubhouse Fireplace
By E. Nolan

If tradition and history are important to you then a round at Maplewood, Minnesota's Keller Golf Course should be as well. Honestly... even if history was your worst subject in school and/or you've never seen Fiddler on the Roof - if you simply just LOVE GOLF... you need to be dialing this number 651-766-4170 and setting up your tee time now. (Add 001 for international calls.) Opened in 1929 and comprehensively renovated in 2014, the host of many PGA and LPGA Tour events distinguishes itself among the Twin Cities elite with a fast, fun and adventurous 18-hole track sure to please the most and least skill-handicapped of players. But don't just take my word for it.

Golf Magazine bestowed upon Keller the honor of "Best Municipal Golf Renovation" in 2015, and Golf Inc. stapled it the "Renovation of the Year" as well. Think about that... there can only be ONE winner each year of those awards. If you haven't played Keller since 2014 (or maybe ever) and live within 6 or 7 hours of the Twin Cities, don't those acclaims at least make you curious? Good. Now I'll field questions.

Municipal courses have a reputation as...
I generally don't interrupt questions in print articles, but let me STOP you right there. "Municipal" essentially means it is city funded and everyone can play it. Many of the best municipal courses in America - like Washington County in Wisconsin and Bethpage Black in New York are supervised by the most passionate and meticulous of golf lovers. You can NOT blanket-statement inferior conditions or dispassionate reputations of other municipal tracks to make comparisons to Keller. Keller IS one of Ramsey County Parks & Recreation courses - YES - but it mirrors in quality and difficulty many of the Twin Cities' best public and private courses.

A lot of places "claim" massive renovations when they simply "mow their rough" or "cut down a tree." Is the NEW Keller really a DIFFERENT Keller?
Oh my, YES. And yes... it is also true that many golf courses wave that "renovated" word around too freely. Mark Foley, PGA Professional at Keller, would rather you see the changes for yourself, but is happy to point out the incredible blanket of bentgrass playing surfaces, the full-length driving range, reshaped and resized bunkers and greens and just general beauty enhancements as reasons to LOVE the NEW at Keller. "Bottom line," Mark says, "the architecture team listened to the opinions of the locals who have played it the past nine decades and, while carefully preserving the historic origins, addressed the elements that needed tweaks at every level. The many reasons people have always loved Keller are still here... the biggest difference is that now there is just that much more to love."

Ask landscape photographer David A. Parker how much easier it is to find beautiful shots on the golf course now. For that matter, ask any of the many wedding and event photographers booked to shoot on-site with the stellar Keller Lake backdrops outdoors and stone hearth/wood-beamed interiors. Ask the managers and staff of the equally NEW Keller Grille about the views their vantage point boasts (and the knockout aromas their Sunday Brunch produces). Ask Superintendent Paul Diegnau how much easier it is to maintain a property with wide-open fairways, property shaped bunkers and well-defined hazard lines. Ask around... ask anyone... the "before and after" experience at Keller is appropriately historic.

Is Keller "a" historic or "an" historic course?
I realize I'm in the minority in hating it when people say "an" historic anything, but literary laws notwithstanding Keller is A. Historic. Course. Period. Paul Coates's original design hosted the PGA TOUR's St. Paul Open from 1930 to 1968 (won by Sam Snead in 1937), TWO Major Championships - The 1932 and 1954 PGA Championships - the 1949 Western Open (also won by Sam Snead) and the LPGA Tour's Patty Berg Classic. It was closed for two years (from 2012 to 2014) and renovated by Richard Mandell and (though only 6,650 yards at the tips) rarely yields low rounds to the best professionals. In other words, it was built to host events forever. It has a proud reputation (like Oakmont CC in Pennsylvania) of being a scenic and demanding test for everyone, with a very active membership and warm inviting clubhouse.

From the practice facility to the 18th green (and everywhere else on property) Keller Golf Course feels like you're somewhere special, somewhere exclusive, somewhere you shouldn't be able to be... and it is affordable, beautiful and awesomely accessible to everyone!

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