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Tee Times Magazine | Minneapolis/St. Paul

Breezy Point

Fairways & Greens
August 16, 2017

Mount Frontenac And Treasure Island Casino - Better Together
Treasure Island Hotel Expansion Plan
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Treasure Island Hotel Expansion Plan
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By E. Nolan

For better or worse, we've all been places that are hard to describe. Mount Frontenac Golf Course, just south of Red Wing, is one of those places. How do you adequately put into words the beauty displayed from the top of the bluffs along the Mississippi and overlooking Lake Pepin? One Rochester wedding photographer told me, "Of the four most beautiful shots I've ever taken in 27 years of event photography, two of them were on the greens at Mount Frontenac Golf Course." Before I'd even visited the course (the first time), that glowing testimony answered a few questions for me. 1. The course was built on top of a mountain. 2. It was popular for much more than a golf course, and 3. There's no way I could simply imagine what the course was like anymore. I had to see and play it for myself.

The planning and constructive creativity it had to have taken to build a course up there is amazing. Where most architects would have only been able to manage 9 holes, Gordon Emerson managed to squeeze in 18. I once asked Mr. Emerson, (The architect of many great courses in Minnesota and Wisconsin, like Clifton Highlands and Spooner Golf Club.), what his thoughts were when he was given the opportunity to build Mount Frontenac and he said, "The beauty of every hole was already provided. I just had to connect them all with a cart path." An appropriately humble statement from a most modest man.

They have a photo gallery online, with various ground and aerial images well worth checking out, but no picture really does justice for standing on those cliff-side tees and greens and taking it all in with your own eyes. General Manager, Dan Diggins, has always made it easy for golfers to do so, by offering some of the lowest tee time rates on the entire Mississippi River. In peak season at peak times, it's only $44 dollars to play 18 holes here (with cart) and they always have specials and packages to make for greater steals at lower costs.

Par 71, at just over 6,200 yards from the tips, Mount Frontenac is more of a target golf nature than "bombs away." This is a track of many elevation changes, starting at the very first tee. The short Par 4, 1st fires out from the clubhouse and disappears over a hill, beginning your adventure across the mountain top and between many clusters of trees. (You should see the foliage in the fall!) There are tight and tricky Par 3s at #3 and #5, that require a little extra focus and knowledge of your iron lengths, but the fairways on the front are otherwise pretty wide and forgiving - allowing you to follow and find your ball with ease. My favorite hole on the front is #9, a short dogleg left around a pond to an elevated green.

The back nine ramps up the drama - double the great golf shots and double the incredible views. I would venture the most dangerous hazard on the back IS those views. If you're an area golfer regularly connected to social media, you've probably seen some Instagram and Facebook shares taken from the greens at #10, #11 and #13 (especially in the Fall). It's well worth taking the time to snap some shots up here for your various "social walls." My favorite hole on the back is the Par 3, 11th - a great, short shot along a natural shelf. I would contend there many birdies to be had out here, given the number of short approaches you're bound to have, and everyone loves low scoring rounds.

Mount Frontenac Golf Course is a memorable host for weddings, banquets and other events. "No better place to feel on top of the world than on top of the world," they contend. With a diverse menu, custom setups, a great patio and a banquet hall that can accommodate up to 240 guests indoors, their on-site professionals will gladly help you set up your event. And, speaking of menus, the restaurant in the clubhouse has a gourmet chef and full bar, and one of their popular "Weekday Golf Special" involves golf, cart and lunch for under $30, or choose the "Unlimited Golf Special" for $49.

You can't properly cover packages without discussing Mount Frontenac's valuable partnership with Treasure Island Casino. Everyone from the Twin Cities to Rochester is familiar with the barrage of popular performers Treasure Island brings in. Big & Rich with Cowboy Troy and DJ Sinister are coming in April, Bill Engvall too. May brings in Olivia Newton John, Everclear, Fastball, Vertical Horizon and Chicago... and the rest of the year is loaded with names like: Journey, The Impractical Jokers, Brad Paisley and a personal favorite of mine - Matchbox Twenty. All of that excitement in one place, just 20 miles from Mount Frontenac Golf Course. The point is to give you too much to resist. They're doing a good job aren't they? And there's more.

Treasure Island Casino has taken great steps to become more family-friendly. They recently opened a new water park called The Lagoon, with waterslides, a zero-entry pool and a lazy river with rapids and a waterfall. They have bowling, an arcade and a marina they launch Missisippi River cruises from on the 100-passenger Spirit of the Water. Adults are presented with a casino floor covered with over 2,200 modern slot, poker, and keno machines. There's a Poker Room, Bingo, and a wide assortment of other table games inviting you to get away and play to your heart's content. Or... you can get away and chill - relax in the Wave Spa, with it's many spectacular treatments and services. There is, quite literally, something for everyone.

Treasure Island has seven restaurants to satisfy your throughout-the-day cravings. They are most famous for their exceptional and diverse Tradewinds Buffet, but Tado Steakhouse and Currents Restaurant are always bustling and if you're looking for something a little less formal you can always stop by the Prime Thyme Sub Shop, Extreme Café (in the bowling center), Island Perk (coffee shop) and the all-hours fast food counter at the Mongo Bay Grill (with really good omelets).

In terms of lodging, the options are only getting better. In 2016 Treasure Island broke ground on an $86 million project with two new hotel towers, a new restaurant and many other renovations. They also have an RV Park to go with their existing, spacious hotel.

For the purposes of this magazine, we want you to explore the golf. But it's the complementary nature of Mount Frontenac and Treasure Island Casino that make the drive down, up or over from your home the most worthwhile. Stay a while. Play a while. Looking through the albums of my Mount Frontenac visits I'm most struck by the beauty I see on the golf course, but my wife and kids are quick to remind me that there's much more to life than golf. And Treasure Island Resort and Casino gives you everything it can.

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