Predicting Blue Skies At Timber Creek Golf Course
By Tim Cotroneo
Chances are good that if you’ve played 18 holes at Timber Creek Golf Course in Watertown you’ve met or arranged a tee time with Vonnie. If a golf course has only one chance to make a good first impression, then Timber Creek is golden when Vonnie is the first smiling face, voice, or personality you encounter in the clubhouse.
Timber Creek Golf Course owner Brooks Ellingson notes that Vonnie has been with him since he took over the reins of this 6,200-yard layout in 2014. Like a maestro with eight arms, Vonnie multi-tasks by answering the phone, ringing the cash register, joking with guests, and even cooking a hot dog or two.
There is one area in which Vonnie won’t tread. She won’t give you a weather prediction. “In my next life I want to come back as a weather person. They are wrong half the time and still get paid,” Vonnie said with a smile.
A Watertown Location, Location, Location
Ellingson worked as a Superintendent for 30 years before grabbing his 140-acre slice of the golf ownership pie. Ellingson patiently perused available golf courses for almost a decade before pouncing on Timber Creek when this mature, tree lined course became available.
What was the deciding factor in Ellingson’s choosing Timber Creek? “Definitely the location. Even though the city of Watertown is quaint, we pull from St. Bonifacius, Waconia, Minnetrista, Orono, Independence, Plymouth, Rockford, and Wayzata,” Ellingson said.
Another factor in Timber Creek’s popularity is the down home feel that wraps golfers up like an extended family reunion. A newcomer immediately notices that exchanging greetings on a first name basis is the rule, rather than the exception. In fact, acknowledging first names is part of the Timber Creek culture.
Consistency Is The Key
Ellingson appreciates consistency in a golf course, and he hopes this cornerstone is something his golfing audience finds at Timber Creek. “For me, Golf 101 is a course whose conditions are consistent from hole to hole and especially from green to green,” Ellingson said.
As someone who has taken on every golf course position or task, Ellingson has come up with a good way to find out what his course needs to be better. This occurs when he asks golfers to tell him three things they don’t like about Timber Creek.
“I can’t improve if I don’t know. The negative feedback is painful, but it makes you better than before,” Ellingson said. When he first took over the course, golfers shared that they’d like the course to be more playable. In response, Timber Creek removed several bunkers that were poorly located. Over the years, dozens of trees have been trimmed back and removed to improve sightlines and overall routing of the course.
Ace King, And The Finishers
Watch televised golf on Sundays and building drama toward a fantastic finish always helps to create a memory. Timber Creek does this with a back nine that gives golfers plenty to think about.
On the Par 3, 14th hole, a golfer can pocket $1,000 if he or she scores a hole in one. Timber Creek is partnering with Swing King on this promotion, and the $1,000 windfall can occur regardless of which tee box you play from. So far, several golfers have come within inches of a payday, but no one has yet to go home $1,000 richer.
Timber Creek is also proud of its 16,17, and 18 finishing holes. This trio of Par 3, Par 4, and Par 4 can make or break your round. Whereas the bulk of the golf course is what Ellingson calls “player friendly,” the last three holes demand precise shots off the tee and emphasizing a course management strategy to score.
Swooshwagner, August Tourney, And Tomorrow’s Weather
Most golf courses with more than a decade of history seem to have a bit of lore, legend, or mirth ingrained in its core. When asked if there’s a story behind the course’s Swooshwagner Creek, Ellingson’s eyebrows raised and he tried to hide a smile. “That’s the creek that runs through holes 8, 16, and 17. You’ll have to ask Tom of our Grounds Crew for details on how the creek got its name,” Ellingson said.
As for what Timber Creek is excited about this summer, Ellingson nodded to Sara Johnson from the Tuesday night Women’s League. “On August 17, we’re looking forward to our second annual Timber Creek Women’s Golf Tournament. The proceeds from this tournament go toward WeCan, a community that empowers individuals and families to achieve self sufficiency,” Johnson said.
When Ellingson first took over Timber Creek, he ultimately wanted to create a golf course that exuded a family atmosphere and is a fun place to play. After five full years in business, this goal can be seen, felt, and heard in the banter expressed in the clubhouse and throughout this well maintained golf course. If you’ve yet to experience Timber Creek, make the trek to Watertown. You never know if your 18 holes translate into a $1,000 hole in one, discovering the mystery behind Swooshwagner Creek, or hearing Vonnie accurately predict tomorrow’s weather forecast.