Wild Marsh Golf Club – Buffalo Wild Swings
By E. Nolan
Graham Marsh left his mark in Buffalo, Minnesota, just as he did in Agar, South Dakota and in fifty other cities, in sixteen countries, around the world. He left his mark with golf. The PGA TOUR veteran, and world renowned architect from Australia was always very specific about where he built his courses… so what in the world possessed the guy who won Golf Digest’s prestigious “Best New Course” in 2004 (for Sutton Bay) to focus on a small town in Minnesota? (Had to be the people, right?)
To hear Graham tell it, there were many factors involved. He probably wouldn’t have done it for free, but he loved the property from the beginning, and took little coercion to become involved. With so much golf history in the Twin Cities, it seemed like a logical setting (they must not have winter in Australia). I’ve twice met, Mr. Marsh (now 73) and the pleasant chap loves Minnesota. He loves the people. He loves the beauty. And clearly he loves marshes.
Wild Marsh has won many accolades from various regional publications over the years, namely for its incredible value and beauty. It is easily among the upper echelon of golf properties in the Twin Cities. It just isn’t an easy course to play. Management has done plenty to assist in that department. There are now four sets of tees that drop all the way down to 4,664 yards, stretching to 6,500. There’s nothing they can do about the wetlands, but the fairways have been broadened and the greens are large and receptive. It really is a friendly course to play if you love hitting irons (or if you’re good with your driver… unlike me).
Wedged between Buffalo Lake and Mink Lake, Wild Marsh as a golf course has plenty of attractive pull, with so many tee shot perspectives worthy of a photo (or five), and yet there’s just as much drawing power to the property OFF the course. The Tavern at Wild Marsh consistently garners rave reviews not just for the incredible setting overlooking Mink Lake, but for the diverse intensity of flavors on Chef Kevin Aho’s famous “Scratch Menu.” There is heavy traffic on weekends here to just hang out and eat!
Wild Marsh is a municipal course, operated by the City of Buffalo, and has been a popular host for group events since it opened in 2000, with many of those same groups returning every year. So close to Plymouth, Maple Grove, Wayzata and Minneapolis, it makes perfect sense for corporate parties seeking a rural retreat to settle on Wild Marsh. With superior catering, beauty, atmosphere and a positively memorable golf product… I mean… that is the dream foursome, right?
General Manager Eric Ritter has been on point since 2012, and is proud of the progress and reputation the course has gained (and, more importantly, maintained) the past five years. “We’ve done bunker and tee box renovations, made it way more playable, and made it way more fun. Everyone can have a great time out here and everyone can score well from the right tees.” They’re one of the few courses in the Twin Cities that has it’s own course app (available in App Stores), so you can get a great full-color overview of the course on your phone right now if you’d like. Or you can just read on…
As any good course should, Wild Marsh lets you get your feet wet first (warm up) before you have to worry about getting a ball wet. The lengthy marsh carry on Hole 2 leads you into a stretch of pinched golf corridors before returning to long carries on Hole 6. The real beauty of the course kicks in at my two favorite holes on the front – 7 and 8. Hole 7 is as hazardous as a hole gets, a stunning lakeside sweeper of a Par 5 with each shot both daunting and dramatic. Similarly awesome, the Par 3, 8th may be short, but it is certainly no pushover, hugging tightly to more of that coveted shoreline.
The back, like the front, kicks off innocuously, and then pummels you with wetlands, with marsh in play on every hole until 18. As highlights go, the duo at 12 and 13 stand out the most to me, wrapping around one particularly pretty marsh, demanding precision and a few Instagram shots. It’s hard not to appreciate how the course stays away from the residences, and makes you feel like you’re in the woods and/or on the lake. It’s a great blend of golf and natural beauty, a fairly tough but overall fun round to play.
Buffalo, Minnesota is a beautiful place. I can see why Graham Marsh loved it here, and why so many golfers are in love with his course – Wild Marsh.
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