Wedgewood Cove – Southern Comforts North Of Iowa
By E. Nolan
It had been a couple of (too many) years since my last visit to Wedgewood Cove – used to be hours closer to my house. I remembered the last time fondly, my mid-teens son almost acing TWO of the par 3s. I always appreciated that factor about the course, perhaps more than anything else – literally anyone and everyone (of any age) could have fun (and do well) there.
I pulled up to the clubhouse and it was packed. Typical, but not packed with golfers this time. There was a wedding party outdoors – and what a great outdoors site it is for ceremonies and parties, right on the banks of the gorgeous Pickerel Lake. Their indoor wedding and banquet facility (event center) can host up to 480 people, with full-length windows overlooking the lake and golf course. Yeah, it’s no wonder they keep that calendar packed.
I wandered past a few youngsters in tuxedos putting on the practice green, remembering fondly how much I loved golf at that age, and how seldom I ever thought about all the things in life that could keep me from golfing. Simpler times… yet another thing I loved about Wedgewood Cove. Something about the place just puts me at ease – regardless of weather or pandemic. It’s a stress-free, small-town-feel-in-a-city environment that makes every day feel like a Saturday… Iowa Warmth mixed with Minnesota Nice.
Two steps into the clubhouse and I could already smell the food. It was probably for the wedding party but I wasn’t in a crashing mood. I wanted my own, and executive chefs, Benjamin and Chase, always have something great cooking. I peeked into the more formal dining room “The Wedgewood” (with its peaceful vibe, lake views and local-seasonal menu with a killer Australian Wagyu) before slipping into a high-top seat at the more casual hangout, “The Cove.” The Cove is my kind of setting, (a stellar place to catch the sunset) with sports-loaded TV’s everywhere and a full bar. The burger and salad menu is enticing, but the Brisket Nachos and wings are irresistible (with unique flavors like House BBQ and Kick’n Sauce). I had an hour before my tee time – might as well make the most of it. I finished the food, watched highlights on the Golf Channel of when Rory used to be good, stopped by the fully stocked golf shop to say hello to Head Golf Professional Donnie Teeter, then headed to the first tee.
The Wedgewood Cove Golf Course is very much a tale of two nines. The front nine feels so easy. The back nine feels so hard. Donnie always laughs when I say that (both sides probably seem easy to him), but that “take” isn’t intended as a criticism. I enjoy courses that let you get off to a good start, that pepper you with intrigue out of the gate (allowing some room for error), then pinch you a bit to require focus down the stretch. In that way, this 6,993-yard Garrett Gill and Jon Schmenk design excels.
It’s a “links-style” course in the sense that it is built to play fast and firm through fairway corridors wedged between mounds of native fescue grass. Loaded with risk-reward scoring opportunities, there are a number of drivable Par 4s for the bombers (like my wife), with ponds scattered here and there so people like me can build plenty of summer snowmen. Okay, so perhaps the ponds would better be described as “peppered,” considering water is in play on 14 of the 18 holes. (They sell a lot of golf balls in the shop.)
Five sets of tees mean five different ways you (and levels of player) can play the course. I often marvel at how this course was fit into this lot, on both sides of a road and surrounded in part by a nice little community without ever feeling pinched or cramped. Hole #2 is one of the most interesting holes in all of Minnesota (at least of the 2,400 holes I’ve played). You tee off towards a distant wall of trees (dividing, not lining, the fairway) and have to maneuver your way through to the green. I have a love/hate relationship with that hole. Love the hole. Hate my scores.
Both nines are so pretty you scarcely notice the houses on most holes, and so many golfers come over/down to take advantage of their “$80 All Day” (cart included) special that you’ll never hear a complaint about rates. Donnie Teeter told me they’ve made it a point to make the rates so attractive people will come from all over to give them a shot. At only 90 minutes south of the Twin Cities, the price is right to get you there, and it’s one of the many things that will keep you going back.