Wild Marsh Golf Club – A Wild Year
By E. Nolan
Up. Everything is up. Everything is looking up, too. “This has been a crazy, unpredictable year,” General Manager, Eric Ritter, says. I nod. He doesn’t really need to elaborate. We all can relate. But, he does expand on the unexpected gifts on the golf side. “Then again, for all the curses, there have also been a lot of blessings. We’ve never seen so many novice golfers and first-time visitors at Wild Marsh. Our memberships are way up, and the Loyalty Club is nearly at capacity, plus we’ve had those hundreds – literally hundreds – of golfers claim (this year as) their first visit to Wild Marsh. And we’ve seen many of those ‘new’ golfers several times already.”
Many other Minnesota clubs have said the same – the “lemonade” from the “lemons” being a massive resurgence in the number of people playing golf. At Wild Marsh those first timers have found a course they’ve told me is, “A ridiculous steal compared to other top tier courses they’ve played,” and “The best value in the Twin Cities suburbs,” and “What has to be THE best PCC course in Minnesota.”
PCC? “Public Country Club,” Ritter says. “Being part of that program has led to hundreds of new golfers driving up from all over the Twin Cities to check us out. But the biggest boom has been locally – people who don’t typically play a lot of golf but have more time off these days… they’re checking us out for the first time (or for the first time in a while) and realizing (or remembering) just how great our golf course is. And they’re bringing lots of friends! People have learned to book tee times several days in advance now, even a week ahead for weekends.”
Those golfers are finding a course that only costs $45 to play (cart included) Monday-Thursday until 9:30 AM (and only $57 the rest of the day, weekdays). Compare that to weekday rates of similar caliber courses in the northwest suburbs ($119 in Maple Grove, for one) and it’s a mindblowing deal. Want to learn more about the experience at Wild Marsh? They have a hole-by-hole tour on their NEW Instagram account (@WildMarshGolf), an interactive website, a Facebook following that has doubled this year to 1,000+ local followers, an active Twitter account (@WildMarshGolf), a brand new Golf App (Apple and Android), and (literally) the best prices on golf merchandise I’ve found in any Twin Cities pro shop. All of that is driving up business. And the incredible weather this year is only helping. “I can’t remember a year we’ve had so few days affected by any sort of weather,” Ritter says. “Even our slowest days we’ve still had 100 golfers out to play.” It’s been such a stellar (business) year they’ve ordered brand NEW carts with state-of-the-art GPS systems. “Can’t wait until those are here!” Eric says. (Soon. Very soon.)
Wild Marsh has active leagues and has developed a competitive Food and Beverage program to offset the temporary closure of the restaurant. “We do incredibly well with our outdoor grill menu (Tuesday-Sunday) and fifty or so different drinks.” (Including mixed drinks, twenty beers and non-alcoholic options.) No one is complaining. In fact, I’ve found the opposite. “They sell all the drinks in the shop they sell at the outdoor grill,” a local golfer told me. “And beverage carts are out after noon every day.” Supply and demand, working perfectly.
In case you don’t know, Wild Marsh is an 18-hole Graham Marsh design on a picture-perfect property between Mink and Buffalo Lakes, on the outskirts of Buffalo. The course plays much longer than the actual 6,543 yards from the Black Tees, and first timers will find sufficient challenge with the Blues at 6,046, the Whites at 5,321 and the Reds at 4,561. “Graham did a brilliant job of mixing challenge and distance here,” Head Golf Pro Jerry Kroc says. “You can hit full driver on most holes, so it sure doesn’t play short.” He’s right. It sure plays fun, too!
Each nine offers a scenic mix of hills, tree-lined fairways, and marsh/water carries with some stellar panoramic views. Front nine favorites include a short lakeside Par 4 second hole, and a phenomenal three-hole stretch from 6 to 8 alongside Mink Lake. The back nine features a challenging three-hole run from 11-13 they’ve dubbed “The Bear Trap” and a closing pair of Par 5s offering golfers a birdie-birdie exit (or better).
Wild Marsh is only 20 miles west of Plymouth and Maple Grove, an easy shot up Highway 55 or down from St. Cloud and Monticello. “I’ll buy the Loyalty Pass every year,” one golfer says. “Thirty-dollar rounds at THIS course!! That’s crazy!” When you put it that way, it IS crazy!
It’s been a wild and crazy year. And it’s a crazy good time to go play at Wild Marsh.