The Links At NorthFork: Minnesota’s Homage To The Home Of Golf
By Will Brogan
When golfers consider the efforts made in this state to provide a test of golf that has as much of a “links” feel as you can get, the conversation has to start with The Links at NorthFork. Often, you’ll see “links” in the title of a course, and it is usually a misnomer that the owner felt would make their property more desirable to play. Not here!
The Links at NorthFork does everything to truly earn that name – including naming every hole! Inspired by the great Scottish courses and sculpted by Minnesota’s premier golf course designer, Joel Goldstrand, “The Links” makes Ramsey, Minnesota, feel more like Fife or Sandwich than Minneapolis or St. Paul. In fact, when considering the attributes of this particular golf course, and comparing it to those that inspired its design, the only things missing are the pot bunkers and the seaside location.
The Golf Course
Even though we saw it at the 10th hole at Merion for the U.S. Open, it’s not often that you see a drivable par 4 play as both uphill and a dogleg, but that’s what you can get at the 371 yard 5th hole. The wind is often very strong in favor of the aggressive tee shot, and even though this hole is the home of the longest hole-in-one in Minnesota golf history, it is ill-advised to try to carry the tall mound and dozen or so bunkers that stand in the way. Still, it should be one of the best birdie opportunities you’ll see all day.
Of course, one of the most unique holes in the state shows up just a few minutes later. The seventh hole, named “Deuce”, is a par 3 with two greens, separated by a pond. Regardless of the “actual” pin location of the day, you’ll likely be hitting the same club. However, like any great links course, the wind could change all of that! For those of you who are playing in one of the many successful outings that Owner Mike Tozier puts on, see how many of you can put a ball safely on both greens, just for some bragging rights! (Note: Please ONLY do this if you’re ahead of pace!!)
The course shows its teeth most in a three-hole stretch on the back nine, holes fourteen through sixteen. Driving accuracy is more important on these holes than any others on the course. The collection starts with a narrow, 557 yard par 5, the longest hole on the entire track. While trouble won’t kill the hole if you miss on the right side, the rough will force a layup. The middle hole of this set is a 403 yard par 4 with water bisecting the dogleg left fairway. Driver is probably never the club of choice here, but laying back too far will give you a bad angle into the elevated green. The last of this group is another dogleg left with a split fairway and an uphill approach. This green requires you to be accurate, as being on the wrong level can easily induce a three putt. What’s the bottom line with these holes? Don’t let them stick “the fork” in you!
Versatility And Technology
Owner Mike Tozier understands that a great golf course is no longer enough to get the masses to come to and play over and over. Tozier and his staff have done a great job of establishing The Links at NorthFork as one of the most versatile properties in the area. There are three extra practice holes on the course – perhaps best used by those who only have an hour and want to work on some specifics away from the repetition of the range.
Additionally, The Links at NorthFork is one of the leading properties in the area that caters effectively to a wide range of group sizes. You often see the 11 am Shotgun start tournaments with their 144 or so players, and “The Links” gets a lot of those. However, they are at the forefront in catering to smaller groups, typically sized between 12 and 36 players. Tozier and his staff really take pride in enthusiastically delivering a quality experience for anyone playing in a group of three or more foursomes.
Perhaps the best way they accomplish the feat from the previous paragraph is through their “Mobile Leaderboard App”. This app has gone from being a simple “real time scoreboard” to adding highly accurate GPS yardages, detailed course descriptions, and a menu!
Connecting The Old With The New
While the term “links” has a specific definition in the world of golf, the term in everyday use is a bit vague. The Links at NorthFork lives up to its name by delivering in both instances: the “old” of Scottish-inspired golf holes is connected (i.e. “linked”) with the “new” of detailed, real time mobile golf apps and modern amenities.
Simply put, The Links at NorthFork gets it right. See for yourself and book a tee time today!