Distinct Style At The Links At Northfork

By Rhett Arens







Links golf could never be confused with parkland style. Links incorporates all the elements found along the windy, lonely sand dune strewn coastlines that envelope the circumference of Scotland’s majestic landscape. You’d think there would be no way to replicate that architecture here in the Midwest – 1,500 miles from any coast. Fortunately, you would be wrong. There are several standout examples of links style golf here in the North Star state and one of them is perched just west of Ramsey at The Links at Northfork. You can leave your kilts and bagpipes at home, but you better bring your low stinger long irons and bit of grit in your step. Golf exposed to the elements is not for the faint of heart.  

General Manager Mick Mollberg wouldn’t have it any other way. The vast stretches of serpentine fairway, the wind exposed tee boxes that have you rethinking your launch angles, the undulated greens that may or may not tweak the roll with that side breeze, the bunkering that seems to pop-up at just the wrong time in the wrong places and of course, all of this is counter-balancing with the sheer joy of embracing the elements and working with them. You may not lose too many balls, but you might want to bring a pocket GPS or watch because the odds are good you might be hitting from an adjacent fairway or waste bunker. The wide-open, seemingly harmless looks that come with links style design encourages you into over-swinging, especially downwind.

Mick and his team have been building a large following of regulars and purveyors who find the purity of links golf much to their liking. The course conditions are conducive to repeat play as Superintendent Jason Yonak and his crew keep the tee boxes clean and prepped, the fairway divots at a minimum and the greens rolling true and smooth. Playing conditions are a high priority as Jason understands there is enough trouble making birdies and pars without any subpar grounds keeping.

With The Open happening about the time this issue of Tee Times goes to press, it’s a fine time to take a wee stroll around the course and talk about some of the signature holes. At 6,989 yards from the tips this 4-star Golf Digest rated 18-hole Championship layout is set up to challenge and reward. The front nine starts nice enough with a low blood pressure par 5 that isn’t too long. This is also the perfect introduction to the effects of headwinds versus tailwinds. I’ll raise a pint to hoping you find tailwinds on your visit. The par 4 second hole is a great example of links deception. It appears like you should come straight off the box, eat up some yards but in reality, you’ll want to favor the left side to set up a good look into the green. I must mention the par 3 seventh, which features two green options (not sure I’ve seen this anywhere else). The two greens are separated by a large pond, so the shot conditions change every day depending on the wind direction. Hitting either can give you a birdie look giving it the double-meaning name of ‘The Deuce.’  

The back nine opens with a par 5 that features waste bunkers on both sides of the landing zone. It zig-zags several times eventually finishing into a highly bunkered green. This is true-blue links golf at its finest. A difficult hole does not mean you can’t have fun and the par 4 #15 is that type of hole. It will require some target shots as you navigate the strong dogleg left to the 150 marker and then hit a measured uphill shot into an unforgiving green. Likely a bogey hole unless your first name is Rory. The finishing hole will test your ability to close a round. A long par 4 with fairway bunkers up the left side and an ominous water hazard on the right. With steely nerves in place, give it your best and swing with purpose. Walk off with a par and you’ve earned that pint of Guinness. 

After the round head over to The Pub just like our Scottish brothers do in the Highlands. Order some tasty appetizers and a round of pints and square up those bets. If you are in the market for an event venue you can do no better than work with Event Sales Manager Stacy Gerster to fine-tune customizable details and get the planning started. The Links at Northfork can accommodate groups of any size or budget. Stacy’s staff will customize a golf or banquet package to meet your personalized needs and exceed your expectations. She has the experience to recommend golf and banquet services that will create an event to remember.  

Mick is bringing you a taste of the Scottish Links game without the airline ticket. A short jaunt up Highway 10 and you may find yourself humming an old traditional folksong while raising a pint to your friendships and a round well-played.