Country Charm And Challenge At Dahlgreen Golf Club
By Rhett Arens
It’s right there in the name – green. Golfers in the know have recognized that Dahlgreen Golf Club takes extra care in their… you guessed it, greens. Always rolling true, always silky smooth, always challenging yet fair, in other words, everything you want in a well-designed putting surface. When you think that almost half of your golf strokes happen on the greens it’s no wonder that getting your putting game in order is such an important part of scoring well. A buddy of mine just uttered this sentiment the other day when he drove a short par 4 and then proceeded to four-putt, “I went 270 yards with one shot and the last 10 yards in 4 shots.” Not good.
Dahlgreen brings more than putting mastery to the scorecard. The course plays like an idyllic stroll through the pristine countryside. The elevations and doglegs bring a bunch of character to the overall layout in a comforting yet challenging way. It bills itself as a semi-private facility which is fair enough given the playing conditions and the fact that they offer several levels of membership packages that deliver great value and privileges. Even without a membership DGC offers great daily pricing. Offering four sets of tees that escalate from 5,100 to 6,700 yards, the course becomes an enjoyable opportunity and challenge for all skill levels.
Owned by the Tessman family, Dahlgreen has its origins in family farming and when you look around the greater Dahlgren Township area, it comes as no surprise. After all, golf has its origins dating back to the rolling rural countryside in the Scottish Highlands. The front nine was originally dairy pastureland when it opened for limited play in 1968. The “pro shop” was a wooden box nailed to a tree where patrons played on the honor system and green fees were collected at the end of the day. A year later, the original clubhouse was built and two years after that the back nine was seeded in the fall of 1971. In 1972 the full 18-hole course launched and as they say, the rest is history.
Many tweaks, landscaping, earth moving and fine-tuning improvements have taken place over the years. Holes 17 and 18 were once part of the original front 9. When the back 9 opened, both holes 5 and 6 were altered to allow the entire front 9 to be played east of the clubhouse. Over the years water and bunkers were added, hills trimmed, tee boxes expanded, and many trees planted, all in an effort to make Dahlgreen more challenging while maintaining a fair and “true test of golf.”
I mentioned the comfortable atmosphere, much of that is due to the careful consideration given the clubhouse vibe and non-golf amenities that are clearly a top priority. I was stopped in my tracks the first time I walked into Stick’s Tavern. It is a family-owned restaurant and bar in the best sense of the word and its reputation as a go to, sit-down dining location stretches across the Carver County area and beyond. Stick’s gastropub/American diner fare style menu is created using only the highest quality, fresh, locally sourced ingredients from Minnesota farms and producers at a fair price. This should come as no surprise given the family’s farming roots. Stick’s offers great views of the surrounding tree-lined course while serving up classic food and drinks in the spacious, window-filled atmosphere.
The whole course layout plays with such variety and who doesn’t love that. The round begins with a relatively short (336 yards) par 4 dogleg left that throws in a tricky green complex. At this point you know you are in for a fun, challenging round. The par 5 #7 introduces gentle double dogleg that zigs then zags around some intimidating water. Laying up in front of that water is probably the way to go… unless you have Jon Rahm like nerves of steel (and length). The back opens with a par 4, 362-yard big drop into a landing zone that is not always forgiving. Over swinging, over gripping, overthinking can all get in the way of a nice easy driver shot. Let your Zen flow and you’ll have an easy second shot into the green. Easier said than done. Closing the back nine in proud fashion is a must. The longish par 4 #18 brings a tight, tree-lined fairway. Just for fun the superintendent has left one more tree guarding the left half of the green. Carding a par here should feel like a win and if you do it, go ahead and buy yourself a drink at the clubhouse, you’ve earned it.
What started out as a family brainstorming session around the Tessman kitchen table has evolved into a full-fledged golf and event operation with a big serving of hospitality. When Emma suggested a golf course, the “seed” was planted in the minds of Bill, Blanche, and Paul. Like all hard-working farm families, they ran with the idea and brought this country charmer of a course to life.