GreyStone Golf Club – Sauk It To Me
By E. Nolan
Fans of the board game TriBond might imagine a card in the box that reads: Troy Burne, Somerby and GreyStone. Minnesota golf lovers would be jumping at that answer, throwing out words like “bucket list” and “excellence” and “Golf Digest Best Places to Play.” (Winner, winner and yes, winner.) Flip that card over though and you’re bound to find another strong commonality. They were all designed by Minnesota golf legend Tom Lehman. Troy Burne is one of the best golf courses in the Twin Cities. Somerby is one of the best private clubs in Minnesota and GreyStone… well… it might be the best course you haven’t heard of or played yet. In any case, it’s certainly worth the drive over to play.
GreyStone is in Sauk Centre, only 90 miles from the northwest limits of the Twin Cities (almost all of those miles on Interstate 94) and only 130 miles southeast of Fargo. It’s an easy day trip, even easier for residents of St. Cloud and Wilmar, and vacationers coming from all over heading to The Osakis, or Alexandria know the course well – an obvious and convenient stop along the way.
GreyStone earned the prestigious 4.5 Star recognition from Golf Digest (when the magazine still published their star rankings) and people who have played the course in the last decade swear it’s only gotten better since. Sure the course is great, but every golf traveler knows, there’s so much more to the golf experience than “just the course.” GreyStone prides itself on superior guest service, on superb, lush, conditioning, and (perhaps more importantly of all) on all-around fun. Located next to beautiful Big Sauk Lake, the course has 13 holes of Scottish-links-style golf with five woodland holes thrown in for variety. Ask any regular what they love most about the club and you’ll get answers ranging from “huge fairway landing areas” and “large undulating greens” to “rolling hills and superb conditions” and “cool water features.” Ask the owners what they love best about their course and they say, “The first-time guest that comes up to us and says they’ll see us again tomorrow!” They laugh, but they’re serious. (The first time is seldom the last time at GreyStone.)
While Tom Lehman deservedly gets the credit for the clever design, not enough respect is given to the other Minnesota architects who built the course – Don Herfert and Kevin Norby. Being a big Norby fan myself, I consider GreyStone my favorite Minnesota project of his. Norby’s “signature” tends to be playability – with his distinct ability to give golfers challenging shots that everyone can have success with. The course offers four sets of tee boxes covering the gamut from 5,395 yards to 7,039 at the tips.
The front nine is punctuated by the short par 4, 4th hole, with the “question mark” fairway and “exclamation point” green and the great little par 3, 5th hole guarded by wetlands on three sides. My favorite hole on the back nine is actually the 10th hole, a fantastic 400-yarder with a demanding approach to a tricky green wrapped in blue, but there are so many other fun holes on this side, from the par 3, 11th that introduces the woodlands to the dangerous 12th with its marsh-carry approach to another great par 3 at 17, with a water carry to a bulkhead green. This is a course you appreciate more and more each time you play it, so I encourage you to give it a couple chances if you can.
GreyStone offers a number of Stay & Play packages. You can rent a local house (two options) for up to 8 guests, or invest in a rewarding deal with the AmericInn (4 miles), GuestHouse International (4 miles) and… check this one out… stay at the Red Barn Resort and play Greystone for only $25 ANYTIME except Saturdays (only 5 miles away) – a huge savings on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.
The owners of GreyStone know that the majority of their golfers are traveling from somewhere and they’re quite conscientious of the various costs. Accordingly, because they want you to check them out, they give you what has to be one of the best golf deals in all of Minnesota: A. Monday through Wednesday golf and cart for $25. B. Monday through Thursday Children 15 and under play FREE with a paid adult. And, C. Every Tuesday through the Summer, Juniors play free on Tuesdays with a Free Clinic.
Guests this year will find something new and special at The Cove Restaurant, a remodeled and upgraded restaurant with a great menu of appetizers (avocado seasoned fries), sandwiches, salads (taco salad!) and pizzas (love their dessert pizzas) open 8AM-9PM daily and featuring a superb Sunday Brunch from 10:30-2:30.
As in TriBond, great things come in 3’s at GreyStone. But they also come in 4’s and 5’s. Let Tom Lehman’s brilliance be your guiding light to Sauk Centre this summer.