GreyStone Golf Club – Worth The Drive
By E. Nolan
Draw a 100-mile circle around the Twin Cities on a map and you’ll find the limit most metro golfers will drive to play a great course on any given day off. Naturally, the further the drive, the better the golf course had better be, but (fortunately for Minnesota golfers) that still gives us a lot of great travel-worthy options.
The more of the trip you can stick to interstates and major highways the better, of course, and if you head northwest out of the Twin Cities 100 miles (on I94) you’ll hit Sauk Centre. If you’re in, or anywhere near, Sauk Centre there’s one course that had better be on your map – GreyStone Golf Club.
Ask anyone who’s played the 50 best public courses in Minnesota where Greystone ranks on their list and almost (if not) all golfers will have it easily in their top half. It has a strong local pedigree – having been designed by local PGA Legend Tom Lehman and built by the dynamic duo of Don Herfort and Kevin Norby – and a pretty idyllic location for golfers coming from all over. “We’re flooded by golfers from Minneapolis and St. Paul, of course,” Director Charlie Barhorst says, “but we’re also only 45 easy (interstate) miles from St. Cloud, 50 miles from Willmar, and 125 miles from Fargo, so we draw well from all over.”
Beyond the cool name, marquee architect and ease of access, GreyStone boasts a 4.5-Star rating from GolfDigest’s last “Best Places to Play” list and some powerful positivity from GolfAdvisor with their “100% Recommended” status. “We sure appreciate all the praise and accolades,” Charlie says, “but we’re more impressed by all the golfers who tell us how incredible the value is for our play and experience. Finding the right price point in golf is tricky, but we feel we’ve nailed it and are well beyond a bargain Monday-Wednesday with our $25 rate. Is that the best value golf rate in the state? Why don’t you come find out and tell us?!”
GreyStone has a picturesque setting right on Big Sauk Lake, and accordingly offers a unique “approach” to the course. If you’re out on the lake with your clubs (Who doesn’t take golf clubs when they go boating?) you can actually pull up to the dock, hop out, golf, then take off again. Or (as many do) you can wander up to The Cove Restaurant for lunch or dinner THEN get back in the boat. “In that way,” Charlie adds, “we have a pretty great ‘Resort’ feel. Plenty of families will come up for a day on the lake and the husband (or wife) will steal away for 9 or 18 while the kids splash around in the water or play on the beach – a convenient daycation for all!”
I love the sound of that, and would do it in a heartbeat… if I had a boat. Thankfully, you don’t need a boat to play GreyStone. The 18-hole championship course opened in 2000 – a modern design with modern length – stretching to 7,059 yards from the tips and relaxing down to 5,395 yards at the Purple tees. For the most part the course plays like a Scottish-links course – firm, fast, mounded, and lined with fescue – but five of the holes do head off into the woods for a little extra variety. The landscape is equally diverse, with wide fairways and undulating greens meeting rolling hills, aquatic areas and some pretty great golf scenery. “We hear all the time our greatest asset is our greens,” Charlie adds. “They are challenging and loaded with movement, but are receptive to all lengths of shots and putt so perfectly true.” Wide fairways coupled with big greens and plenty of room for error… that’s Playability with a capital “P.” Beyond the fairways and greens, they’ve recently added new sand in the bunkers and cut back many of the natural grass (fescue) areas to be even more forgiving to those who find more roughs than fairways off the tees (like me).
The Cove Restaurant currently offers indoor and outdoor dining options, including dockside delivery, and their back patio is a great, scenic and spacious host for weddings, groups and events. The GreyStone kitchen caters plenty of flavor. Famous for their pizzas, burgers and sandwiches (Killer Meal Combo: BBQ Brisket Sandwich and Peach Crumble Dessert Pizza) you can get a whole day’s worth of rest and relaxation here for a steal. Summer days are obviously more crowded on the lake, but locals will be quick to tell you, “The Fall days here are almost better!” Few trees on the course means few leaves (for losing balls) and the fast, firm conditions only improve by the day.”
It doesn’t really matter when you visit, it’s more that you NEED to visit. The staff and course will make it worth your while!