Purple Hawk Country Club – North Soar
By E. Nolan
I’ve never seen a purple hawk I didn’t like. It’s an odd thing to think, and an odd thing to say, but when I first heard of Purple Hawk Country Club I had so many questions and one of them just happened to be, “Is there actually such a thing as a purple hawk?” If there is, or ever was, Minnesota would be its appropriate home, I think. We are, after all, the home of the Purple People Eaters and Purple Rain.
It’s best if I leave the aviary debate to the bird experts and focus my own expertise on the golf. Purple Hawk is perched on the outskirts of the Twin Cities metro, near Cambridge, only 30 miles north of Blaine. Everyone knows the further north in Minnesota you go the prettier it gets, so it only makes sense that this property is one of the “extended metro’s” prettiest. The further north you head on Highway 65, the more water and wetlands you find, and Purple Hawk has plenty of both, including a captivating three hole stretch along a lake. I’m not easily impressed by golf courses, but I can assure you my first impressions were great here.
Purple Hawk is one of those courses that grabs you from the beginning, allowing zero time to settle in. (Take advantage of their practice facilities pre-round!) The first hole is a beauty, with a daunting approach over a corner of water to a green that appears to slant towards wet. I turned to my playing partner (my son, as always) eyebrows raised. “A signature first hole?” I asked, and he nodded. And then we got to the signature second. (2-for-2… awesome!) The Par 3 second might be the most popular hole here – it’s featured front and center on their website for good reason. You’ve got a water carry to an open green next to a bridge. It’s pretty and pretty cool.
Speaking of pretty cool, I love that there’s no let up on this course – definitely not on the front nine. The fourth hole is a short Par 4 that takes you over (or around) a pond and to the aforementioned stretch of lake. “This place is fire,” I mumbled to my son. He rolled his eyes. (Teenager for, “You used the word right, but aren’t cool enough to use that word.”) Hole 6 is the last lakeside hole, a Par 3 whose greatest hazard is the distracting beauty to your left. “Too legit,” I muttered, drawing a smile from my boy this time. (Apparently MC Hammer references are acceptable for people my age.) As we turned away from the lake, I anticipated that we’d left the best of the course behind, and was so grateful when that turned out to NOT be the case. The front closer actually had one of my favorite shots on the entire course – an approach over a pond to a narrow green.
You’d have to be crazy to just play nine holes at Purple Hawk, but if you were going to play just nine anywhere in the extended, north metro area, there are few places you’ll find a better stretch. “You seem surprised,” General Manager, Matt Grell, remarked. “What were you expecting?” (That was a great and perfectly called for question.) “I really don’t know,” I replied. (A lame but perfectly honest response.) “I guess I just thought if the place was this great I’d have heard more about it.” “We actually get that a lot,” Matt said.
I made the turn with my wheels turning on how I could sufficiently describe this place to people who have never ventured up here. I played the stellar 13th and 16th holes (two more “signatures” – Par 3s over/along water) in a daze. The back just breezed by – way too fast. I scored well and would score the course really well in my ratings (for other golf publications).
“We were rated 4.5 stars by Golf Digest,” Matt said, “back when they were still doing their ratings. The big publications have praised us for our high value and labeled us a ‘Best Kept Secret’ but…”
“You shouldn’t be a secret,” I offered. Matt didn’t outright nod, but conceded that it would be nice if more people knew about Purple Hawk. “Trust me, Matt,” I said, “with the beautiful property you have and the stellar course conditions, people are going to find out about the course one way or another.” (I’ll certainly do my part!)
Purple Hawk is a Par 72, playing from 5,316 to 6,711 yards. It’s everything that you’d want in a course and nothing that you wouldn’t. I mentioned that I’m not easily impressed by golf courses, but everything about the Purple Hawk experience impressed me. My advice… fly up there ASAP. Soar North!