Voyager Village – Welcome To The Club
By E. Nolan
There’s a golf escape not too far from the Twin Cities described as “5,200 acres of Northwest Wisconsin woods, lakes and wildlife.” Multiply your backyard by 15,000 and you realize that’s an amazing amount of green space and blue water. Your mind geographically gravitates to Hayward, and you’re thinking in the right direction, but this is closer and more convenient than that. Only two hours from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport and/or the Mall of America, to be more exact (even less if you take advantage of their private airstrip). And this is more of a solo getaway site than a Brainerd or Hayward consortium of resorts. It’s “standalone greatness” makes it THE destination in the area and you can easily come here to get away and feel like you are – away from it all – without sharing the incredible amenities with thousands of other vacationers. Welcome to the club – a public country club of many sorts.
Voyager Village is a collection of outdoor magnificence – of eleven lakes, two golf courses, great views, wild animals (eagles and bears) and exquisitely maintained (and consistently irrigated) fairways and greens. Ask Director of Golf Ryan Christopherson about the championship course at Voyager Village and he positively beams. “Never seen better conditioning here in my life, and that’s something we heard all year from our members and guests. The course is not just fun, it’s fantastic and beautiful, and we are thrilled with the annual draw we receive from Duluth, Eau Claire, the Twin Cities and even further out. People come over once and get hooked… they keep coming back.”
Voyager Village is more than golf, and more of that Country Club I mentioned than a “resort,” with the biggest perk being that everyone is welcome to enjoy every amenity. There is an indoor Pool & Fitness Center, to go along with tennis and Pickleball courts, plenty of hiking and biking trails, miniature golf, bocce courts (with leagues), beaches, playgrounds and a community theater. People live here year-round, but it really gets hopping in the summer. With those eleven lakes, most notably Loon, Fish, Hanscom and Birch Island, the aquatic activities are extremely popular and the fishing is… well… flipping fabulous.
I can’t get to every Midwest course every year, but Voyager Village is one I hit as often as possible. I’m drawn to the loons calling from the water, to the intriguing golf layout that weaves in and out of the woodlands and wetlands, and I’m drawn to the food at The Grill. I’m not kidding in the least when I say that people fly in just for the food. You can do that when you have an airstrip out the door that rolls up to your window as if it’s a drive-thru. If you’re not convinced the food alone is worth flying over for, then stay for the golf. (But definitely check out the menu either way: Asparagus Fries, Pulled Chicken Nachos, Salmon Salad, Hangover Burger, Legendary Pizzas and much more, with daily specials like Prime Rib, Wings, Fish Fry and Brunch.)
There are 27 holes of golf at Voyager Village. The championship course is a Par 72, playing anywhere from 5,250 yards to 6,600. It consists of wide-open holes along the runway (you can literally, if unintentionally, hit a 1,000 yard drive), twisting turners that require plenty of concentration and accuracy, and beautiful Par 3’s that you’ll want more than one shot at (unless you ace one, of course). People seldom come here to just play 18. “Rent a cabin,” Ryan suggests. “So many people do. They’ll stay here for a week and play the course over and over, and throw in some rounds on the Par 3 Course as well. Or… better yet… buy a house here. We’ve got incredible lots for houses (and camping) at remarkable values.” The “Lake Nine” he mentioned is the Par 3 Course cut into Birch Island Lake, with so many successive scenic tee shots and water in play on five of the nine holes. My son and I have had some epic duels on that course and I’ve taken some amazing pictures there. (Sigh)
The Championship Course is highlighted by the Par 3, 4th hole, over the pond, and that’s just a teaser for all the stunning beauty on the back side. The drama begins at the 11th hole, a challenging Par 5 with water and trees doing their best to keep you from par, and takes you through to my favorite holes on the course, the Par 3, 17th hole with the elevated tee shot, and the beautiful closer at 18 – a pinched tee shot over another daunting pond to a wide-open fairway and welcoming green.
Everyone will find something to love here. The courses welcome all ages and levels of play, and the fun options off the course are… well… off the charts. So, come on over. Join The Club.