The Wilds Golf Club – Golf Gone Wild!
By E. Nolan
Few people would describe the Twin Cities area as “wilderness” but at least a part of it is. Central Minnesota is surrounded by and dotted with lakes, marsh, pine forests, fields, etc… and a great deal of those elements are displayed in full splendor at several of the area golf courses. The rule, no exception, (exceptional as it may be) is The Wilds. This Weiskopf/Morrish design gives you all the “wild” you’ll want, with plenty of opportunities to “tame” each hole, as great scoring opportunities abound throughout.
Sure, there are houses (Who wouldn’t want to live amidst/alongside such beauty?), but they don’t take away from the game. Trust me, with water on half the golf holes; your focus will be on the natural facets of the course. At least it better be. Play this course from the tips and you’ll encounter one of Minnesota’s highest slope/course ratings. Oh, it can be a beast, but it is equally beautiful and fun… and from any of the other sets of tees, pretty much anyone can take it on.
The front nine is an area favorite. Asking a dozen golfers in the parking lot their opinions on The Wilds’ comparison to other area courses, all but a couple cited the front nine as the best front nine around. Holes #2, #3 and #8 are attractive lake/marsh-side designs, with each approach to the green requiring an intentional accuracy and focus on safety vs. serenity. Add in a few distracting lengthy forced carries on #4, #6 and #7 and you’ll have your hands full… with your camera… and then in trying to contain your frayed nerves.
The back nine seems easier but also offers up two of the best holes overall, at the par 4’s #15 and #18. In other words… the crescendo doesn’t stop at #9. But we all know that a great design is worth little, without great course conditions. Despite Mother Nature’s unrelenting torment, the greens rolled perfectly, surviving the rough winter far better than most we’ve seen, and the superintendent earned his compliment from our group. You could tell how much effort and money was, and is, put into this course on a daily basis… and it was obvious by the constantly rotating parking lot that the local population was both appreciative and aware of the quality as well. That says a lot.
General Manager Shad Gordon takes it all in stride. Rough winter? “It happens.” Late start to the golf season? “Hey, it’s picking up now!” There’s no panic, and definitely no “raising prices” to make up for the delay. In fact, The Wilds continues to push the envelope on value. Constantly raising the bar on their competition by matching or exceeding their product quality, it’s easy to see why so many come here so many times a year, and why Mr. Gordon can be so confident in both the status quo… and that the best is yet to come.
I like to write my reviews as I see it, and I see a popular, thriving facility at The Wilds. A formidable host for weddings, whose season is likewise amping up. The year round Wilds Pub Restaurant and Bar offers more than just your standard clubhouse fare, making it a popular dining spot for people throughout the metro. The casual atmosphere, big screen satellite TV’s, incredible 18th green, the Minneapolis skyline views, and spacious dining areas cater to every type of diner, group, party or event. But in my personal opinion, if you’re going to eat one meal at the Wilds, it should be Sunday Brunch. Wow! No wonder the nearby Old Country Buffet line is empty on Sunday mornings.
The trio of courses in Northern Minnesota (Wilderness and Giants Ridge) may be the top tier in the state, but the local trio packs its own surprisingly powerful punch within a more time-friendly proximity. From Legend’s Club to The Meadows at Mystic Lake, to this beauty… The Wilds… you can pretty much plan the perfect full weekend of golf on the “Prior Lake Golf Trail”. Stay at home, or in an area hotel a couple of nights, golf at each of these three and head back to work on Monday with a full head of steam.
And by the way, as a local and national golf writer, I am very interested in your opinion on the best Front and Back nines in the metro area, and in the state. Drop us a line… Message us on Facebook. Let us know if there’s a better “front 9” in the Twin Cities than The Wilds? But then, if you haven’t played The Wilds yet, there’s only one way to make the comparison. Get here!