Voyager Village – The Village, People
By E. Nolan
This is the Village people talk about in the Twin Cities. And by “people” I mean golfers. The club-wielding explorers who rush beyond the metro limits to find the gold in them there hills. The ones who know where the true beauty of the state lies: north and/or throughout the St. Croix River Valley. Occasionally, we (Minnesotans) see our state with blurred lines – blurred border lines that is. Occasionally we want what Wisconsin has (see Troy Burne) and believe it’s close enough to count as ours. That’s how we feel in Minnesota about Danbury’s Voyager Village as well.
Danbury is just across the Wisconsin border, two hours northeast of the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport. (Think Brainerd but northeast.) You pass through the beautiful St. Croix State Park and State Forest to get there. It’s on the way to Hayward, but an hour or so closer. Hayward is a vacation haven for many of our golfers, so it’s worth pointing out the geographic proximity. Voyager Village makes for a perfect stop along the way, particularly on a Tuesday… especially if you have a junior golfer with you.
Many golfers already make that pit stop. Others consider Voyager Village their final destination. I call it a pit stop more for its convenience and many amenities than anything else. They have everything you need, except lodging, in one serene place. They have a 9-hole waterside gem of a course, perfect for families and beginners, but even more perfect for juniors who play for FREE every day in June this year. They have a fitness center with a swimming pool, miniature golf course, a runway (for those who’d rather fly in), a stunning lake, and fun expansive championship 18. The Voyager Village Grill brings the rest of what you want and need, catering to large groups, events, and individuals all with the same efficiency and flavor.
Last year I described Voyager Village as “criminally budget-friendly.” The rates are intentionally a steal here, for any and all of their amenities, as they encourage people to come check them out. There is no letdown, no failure to meet expectations. If anything they’ll exceed them (from personal experience). They make it worth your while to take the short hike up there. Personally, I prefer playing there in the mornings – fresh dew in the grass, loon calls on the lake, steam rising off the runway, deer and birds everywhere. The remote setting is a heavenly blessing. But I can imagine the evenings are just as sublime. It’s everything I love about the Brainerd Lakes, in a much smaller package.
Voyager Village is well known for their Tuesday Special. $29 gets you golf (cart included) on their championship course all-the-live-long-day. As their Tuesdays tend to be as busy as their weekends (thanks to that promotion) they spread the wealth to their 9-hole course, allowing juniors to play for FREE every Tuesday and adults to play for only $12. Do the math. Imagine your own 27-hole slice of paradise for only $41. It can be yours for just that every Tuesday throughout the summer. (If you’ve never been there, why wouldn’t you check that out?)
And if you haven’t been there, this is what the championship round is made of. Weaving through a 5,200-acre forest, this hilly wetland escape is full of thrills and spills. You feel like you’re a world away from the world on most holes, like you have the course to yourself (and a few thousand animals). There are a few houses, and a few planes taking off and landing next to a couple tee boxes. But neither of those distracts from the nature-friendly experience (actually love watching the planes come in), and you can thank the sharp and entertaining design for that.
The course is chock full of doglegs and hazards, birdie-holes and potential snowman-holes. You need to pay attention to distances, as driver is not always the smart play, and accuracy and proper positioning are always rewarded – the way a golf course should be.
My three favorite holes are the gorgeous downhill par-3 fourth, and the two closing holes, with enchanting lake views and high quality golf shots. But sitting in the Grill with friends post-round you’ll learn (as I did) that there were far more highlights out there than you recalled. And if you’re as fortunate as I was (to have blocked out a full day for my visit) you can head back out there, learn from your mistakes (and make new ones), and find that many more design qualities to appreciate. Your love for the course will no doubt be proportional to your experience. It will grow with each round.
I’d encourage regional golfers to find Danbury on their map and draw a line through it for your next area golf trip. You’ll find a lot of fun, great conditions, friendly people, and a golf destination you’ll want to keep coming back to.