The Wilds Golf Club – Minnesota’s Crown Jewel For Tournament Golf
By Tim Cotroneo
Pick a day in the spring, summer, or fall, and it’s 50-50 there’s a tournament going on at The Wilds Golf Club in Prior Lake, MN. In the months of July, August, and September, these percentages skyrocket.
Since Architects Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish unveiled The Wilds 7,000 yard 18-hole layout in 1995, this course’s tournament reputation has grown not just in Minnesota, but nationally, and even internationally. The Wild’s customer-first philosophy is evident even before you strike your initial drive on the Par 4, 406-yard first tee box.
First impressions are everything at The Wilds. Chances are good that this is the only course you’ll visit that welcomes you with a waterfall, a purple landscaped logo, and a skyscraping roadway leading to the clubhouse. Once you’re predictably awed by the course’s curb appeal, one of The Wilds’ 150 ambassadors greets you in the parking lot. Before you know it, the ambassador embraces your clubs like a newborn, and guides you like an A-lister toward Anthony Bilyeau and the smiling pro shop team.
Tournament VIP Treatment
In mid July, The Wilds tournament schedule flies into overdrive. There are certain weeks in which a tournament is primed for each weekday. The staff seems to thrive in the preparation and superior service that goes into making a golf tournament attendee feel special.
If you’re contemplating organizing a tournament for your business, charity, or group of friends, then consider the VIP treatment that is business as usual at The Wilds. Step foot near The Wilds’ spacious clubhouse and it’s easy to note that the word is out regarding their red carpet tournament formula. On a random Thursday in July, ESPN 1500 radio was broadcasting live from the patio overlooking The Wilds’ 18th hole putting green. Several NHL hockey players were on hand to nonchalantly mix with tournament attendees.
This is the type of day that The Wilds Golf Club team signed up for. Their enthusiasm for their course, their job, and their customers is infectious. Maybe this chemistry has something to do with the staffers unique backgrounds leading up to their current position.
Golf Through A Fresh Set Of Eyes
In addition to team members who have been involved with golf since they were eating soft foods and wearing a bib, there are others who come from eclectic backgrounds outside the industry. Events Coordinator Tara Fitch arrived from the costume making and real estate industries. Tara’s enthusiasm, attention to detail, and innovativeness has helped the course’s tournament reputation grow exponentially.
Head Golf Professional Scott Reuter has an interesting take on how these viewpoints from outside the golf industry benefits with the overall customer experience. “I think our team’s varied backgrounds allows us to look at golf through a fresh set of eyes. Implementing ideas that are successful beyond golf helps us to deliver the best possible experience for our customers,” Reuter said.
In addition to these industry newcomers, The Wilds’ grass roots approach to exceeding customer expectations is built on the backs of certain employees who started with The Wilds from the very beginning. These cornerstone employees fortify every aspect of the operation.
Renowned Chef Tony Willis has wowed Wilds’ customers, tournament goers, and Sunday Brunch enthusiasts for decades with his innovative cuisine. Food and Beverage Director Shannon Trout incorporates Willis’ best dishes into tournament and event menus that are legendary within the industry. Teaching Professional Craig Merriman and his easy to understand method of instruction has generated a legion of students. General Manager Shad Gordon is the Wilds’ leader in walking the customer service walk.
Forecast Today: Pristine Conditions
The Wilds golf course you see today was born out of a calamity that occurred around its second birthday in 1997. “There were straight line winds that cleared out a lot of trees. This natural disaster actually turned out to be a mixed blessing because it ultimately opened up the course, and enhanced the overall appearance that you see today,” Reuter said.
Today’s course features rolling fairways, true greens, and extreme elevation changes. Many of the tee boxes and greens feature beautiful vistas of the Scott County countryside.
For as much play as the course experiences during tournament season, the excellent conditions are what brings back return customers and curious newcomers. These supreme conditions are nurtured by Superintendent Wes Stoneback’s sunrise to sunset team of turf professionals.
What’s On Your Calendar?
Does your upcoming golfing calendar include a 5-star tournament, extraordinary golf lessons, or a delicious Sunday Brunch? If your appointment calendar reads “The Wild Golf Club in Prior Lake,” you can expect to view the rest of the summer with your expectations exceeded and through a fresh set of eyes.