Tartan Park – The Gift That Keeps Giving
By E. Nolan
It’s almost impossible to overstate the significance of 3M to Minnesota. Not only does the mega-company employ infinite locals, but it gives and gives back to the community beyond what can possibly be measured. You can take the 3M Championship for example, celebrated again this year in Blaine. The golf tournament brings in masses of fans from around the country to experience the best of our cities, and collects the greatest of golf’s legends to party along with the rest of us. 3M’s generosity is famous in the Twin Cities and nothing exhibits that philosophy of giving on a grander scale than the 3M Championship. But when the event leaves town, 3M remains, and their local contribution never diminishes. This leads me to my other “case in point” while we’re on the subject of golf. 3M has recently made another generous donation to the metro population. They’ve given us Tartan Park.
Tartan Park isn’t a new course; it’s been around a while, but it used to be private – an exclusive playground for 3M employees and VIPs. As time went on though, good folks like Operations Manager Craig Hanson began to question the message that was being sent by holding out this massive 27-hole experience from the public. He and so many of his 3M friends chose to stand on what the company has always stood for: giving back. After that, not only did they throw open the gates, but they tore them down.
It was a significant move for many reasons, but one of the primary – and instant – benefits to this new and unlimited access is the message you can’t help but take in while you’re here. 3M and Tartan Park care greatly about natural sustainability. The organization has always stressed environmental protection and social responsibility, but at Tartan Park they take it further than most courses do. Tartan Park is essentially a nature preserve – a park inside a park. Audubon should move its headquarters here. There’s definitely enough room.
This is probably the best time to stress that Tartan Park is enormous, and far more than just a golf course. It is a recreational hub, with a dozen tennis courts, baseball diamonds and multiple other outdoor activity centers. It is a majestic host for weddings, banquets, and other large events with enough space indoors and outdoors to host the Super Bowl (if the Vikings stadium isn’t ready in time).
You’re probably reading this article to learn about the golf, however, and considering that even some of the locals haven’t gotten the opportunity to play here, I won’t hold out on you any longer.
Tartan Park has three nines: Red, White, and Blue. Blue and White are typically paired together as the featured 18-hole routing, but that is regularly amended. As the Red is the most open and family friendly, it is not unusual to have golf events request it be moved into their event’s routing, and the golf staff is always happy to oblige. Having 27 holes allows them maximum flexibility here. Conditioning on each is equal, great and consistent, and there is no “weakest” nine. In fact, when I scored each nine for my national publication’s ratings, the Blue and White came out exactly the same in entertainment, design, and beauty; that is highly unusual. As I mentioned earlier, the Red is more open and a bit quicker to play than the others. People tend to score best on that nine and come on, how can you not love that?
Water is majorly in play on the Blue and White nines. Blue has a consecutive trio of beauties (from 4 to 6) that effortlessly blend designer pleasure with player pain – they’re awesome, but dangerous. Three “signature” holes in a row is rare anywhere, but you definitely get it here.
Water remains ever present and relevant on the White nine, and just for kicks and giggles (or curses) you also get some drastic elevation changes. Holes 1 and 2 are stunning and super fun, but Kodak tee shots don’t always translate into great scorecard results – especially not in my game. Holes 5 and 7 offer another pair of dramatic tee shots and perilous water-carry approaches to deceptively large greens. Man, this nine is loaded.
The Red nine is not excluded from the beauty contest, however, as it could very well contain the prettiest hole out here, the closing lakeside 9th.
I was asked in leaving which nine was my favorite, and I truly don’t know, but I think it’s awesome that we even get to have that debate now that literally anyone, any time can come out here and make the ranking determination for themselves. Thank you 3M, and thank you Tartan Park.