Every Day Is Saturday At The Royal Club
By Tim Cotroneo
Kent Blaschko, the Director of Golf at The Royal Club, couldn’t help but smile while looking out at the Royal’s packed patio for lunch, bustling practice green, and a foursome heading out on the first tee box. Blaschko glanced at a visitor and said, “Every day feels like Saturday here at The Royal Club.”
You can feel the excitement, momentum, and classy vibe upon entering the Royal’s tree-lined entrance and parking lot, revealing a throng of Minnesota and Wisconsin license plates. To the right of their extensive practice area, one can’t help but notice two dozen youngsters listening attentively to every word from Junior Instructor Brandon Sigette.
After arriving in the sparkling pro shop, showcasing top shelf merchandise, you’re just steps from the main event. Check in with the starter and prepare for 18 holes featuring a front nine designed by Annika Sorenstam and a back nine designed by Arnold Palmer.
The Queen and The King
Hollis Cavner, the owner of The Royal Club, has golf connections that span the globe. Part of his vision for re-developing the former 3M Tartan Park golf property was to bring on board two of the biggest names in golf.
When The Royal Club opened in 2018, the 6,900-yard championship course had two major cornerstones and talking points that would bring golfers to Lake Elmo. The front nine was designed by Women’s Golf Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam. This would be Sorenstam’s first U.S. design. The back nine would be dubbed The King, as this was the legendary Arnold Palmer’s final design before his passing.
Palmer’s legacy can be seen and felt inside the Royal’s restaurant that is named, you guessed it, Arnie’s. The first thing your eyes are drawn to is a painting of Palmer. Want more? Step inside Blaschko’s office, and there’s a framed flag of Arnie’s Bay Hill Golf Club.
Timing is Everything
Shortly after Blaschko started working at The Royal Club in 2019, COVID hit. A glass of water that was suddenly half empty, quickly became half full. “Parents were looking for something their kids could do, and our junior golf program really took off,” Blaschko recalled.
Part of the reason for The Royal’s junior success was the early mission statement formulated by Cavner, Palmer, and Sorenstam. They all felt it was important to give back to the game, and specifically to youngsters.
“Kids 17-years-old and younger play and train here for free. We didn’t want cost to stand in the way of a child learning and loving the game. Our Junior Instructor, Brandon Sigette, has clinics for kids nearly every day of the week. We also have a six-hole, Par 3, Short Course that is a great site for kids and parents to play,” Blaschko said.
Tournaments and Weddings Abound
The 477-acres, visual environment, banquet facilities, Executive Chef, and beautiful surroundings make The Royal a natural for tournaments, business meetings, and wedding receptions. The Royal Club has already booked over 75 weddings for this year.
From a tournament standpoint, the Royal’s national reputation is growing every year. On September 11-14, the Annika Intercollegiate comes to the Royal and will feature the best women’s collegiate golfers. Ms. Sorenstam will be on hand to cheer on the participants. Last year, the LSU team caused a social media stir when they posed with the jersey of fellow Tiger alum and Minnesota Vikings wide receiver, Justin Jefferson. JJ loved it.
Hockey is another favorite sport with deep connections to The Royal Club. In addition to being one of the favorite courses of the Minnesota Wild hockey team, the Royal plays host to the Hobey Baker Memorial Award Banquet and Golf Classic. Many of the past Hobey Baker winners will be participating in this year’s event on August 11. Minnesota State goalie Dryden McKay is scheduled to receive this year’s award.
Greens with Envy
It was the goal of Cavner, Palmer, and Sorenstam to provide a public course with a private feel. Mission accomplished! As for your 18-hole expectations, most golfers will find the Royal fairways to be generous.
It’s on the greens where the Royal will put you to the test. The greens throughout the Royal’s 18 holes are sizable with notable undulations. Your plan may be to keep your approach shots below the hole.
When asked about a signature hole, Blaschko paused. “A lot of golfers will tell you it’s the Par 5, 2nd hole with its elevated tee box and beautiful vistas. But for me, it’s the Par 3, 12th hole. That’s the last golf hole Arnold Palmer ever designed. There’s a lot of golf history built into one golf hole,” Blaschko said.
Best Day of the Week
If you’ve yet to play The Royal Club, there’s no time like this summer. A good way to take The Royal for a test drive is to make the trek to Lake Elmo for lunch, happy hour, or dinner.
“Our patio was rated one of the tops in the Twin Cities. Looking out at Horseshoe Lake, the first tee box, and the scenery to the east is a sight to see,” Blaschko said.
Is there a best day to play The Royal? Blaschko smiled and said, “It’s all good. Every day is Saturday here at The Royal Club.”