Heritage Links Golf Club – Complementary Golf
By E. Nolan
Incidentally, I was introduced to Heritage Links in Lakeville for the first time this past winter, when THEY introduced their brand new HD Golf Simulators. I make it a point to travel around the Twin Cities and investigate all the new golf hot spots that pop up, especially during the winter when I’m going stir crazy, and Heritage Links was definitely worth the stop. They had set up a cozy golf lounge with a cool vibe, complete with couches, tables and a couple of stunning high-def golf simulators with Sony Laser 5000 3 LCD screens offering many of the world’s best courses at much more affordable rates and with better pace of play. “This place gets it,” I thought. And that was just the indoor product.
Simulator Golf is seldom a substitute for the real thing, but courses like Heritage Links that offer it during the offseason to complement a high-quality, in-season, actual golf experience… they keep their customers content year-round, and they quickly become my favorite places to go (and revisit). “You need to come back during the regular season,” Head Golf Professional, Brett Martinson, encouraged. “And play the real thing.” Don’t mind if I do.
Heritage Links is located in Lakeville, just southwest of Ritter Farm Park, off the I-35 exit (81) I always like to eat at Porterhouse Steak & Seafood. That restaurant has always given me reason to go east on 210th Street W. Now I’ve got a reason to go west – just four short miles from Porterhouse, on County Road 70.
Heritage Links is a Joel Goldstrand design that opened for play in 1997. A Par-71 routing at just over 6,600 yards from the back tees (and 5,145 from the front) it is neither too long nor too short and offers plenty of challenge and beauty on a great, green parcel of land. You realize there’s a lot of water in play when you’re playing it (and when you’re taking pictures), but it didn’t sink in how MUCH water that was until I asked in the clubhouse. “It’s in play on 16 of the 18 holes,” a talkative young man at the register offered. “Great… I’ll be a lot more paranoid next time I play it.” I joked, and we both laughed, but he won’t be the one buying more golf balls.
In actuality, I enjoy the water in play for a number of reasons, and at Heritage Links I appreciate that the water comes in a variety of forms (wetlands, creeks and fountain-filled ponds) and mixes well with all the other “hazards” like the 40 to 50 bunkers, shot-shifting mounds and assortment of trees (especially on the back nine). I feel like Goldstrand did a great job at this property of mixing things up, and never letting the player get used to a specific style of play. Some of the holes even felt like links-style holes – my favorite format of golf. I enjoyed how wide-open those links-style holes felt and bombers will dig their swing-away freedom. The greens were fun, firm and fast, in an assortment of shapes and sizes. It’s just a course I feel every level of golfer would enjoy – and would enjoy more and more with each successive visit.
Every course should have an opening hole like that at Heritage Links – one you can take the driver out and fearlessly swing away on. Birdies aren’t guaranteed, but doubles and others are highly unlikely. Other highlight holes on the front include the 4-par 6th with its multiple bodies of water and green that (for all intents and purposes) plays almost like an island. Supposedly the approach on that hole is better from the left, though I’ve never been on that side to try it. (Hopefully next time.) Hole 8 is another great two-shotter with water again in play, but this time in the form of a creek that divides the hole nearly in half, requiring a pair of semi-accurate shots for a good score.
The back side gets a bit hillier, and trickier to maneuver. Hole 10 has one of my favorite approaches, but it comes after one of the trickier placement tee shots. Tee shot placement feels far more paramount on the back, in order to successfully attack the pins at least. Hole 14 is a great little 3-par that, again, feels like you’re playing to an island green, and my favorite hole on the entire courses is the 15th – partially due to the beauty, but also due to the great approach (in my case) over water to an elevated green.
I flip through pictures fondly, reflecting on this round. So many shots I can replay in an instant – the kind of low-cost, high-value golf its impossible to tire of.