Birdies And Beauty At Wild Marsh Golf Club
By Rhett Arens
Off the top of my head I can’t think of a more appropriately named golf course than Wild Marsh. The natural wetlands at this Buffalo, Minnesota track have been perfectly worked into a splendid course design that brings plenty of those wet carries, natural bird habitat and stunning scenery right to your golf cart window. Course architect and PGA TOUR Champions player, Graham Marsh unveiled this stunner back in 2000 at the height of the golf expansion years. He smartly went with bent grass tees, fairways and greens in his 18-hole Championship design while working many of the holes through adjacent wooded areas, along lakeshore property and over the top of those natural wetlands via a network of bridges. We all know there is something about wooden bridges and golf that seems to click.
The par 71 track is challenging to all skill levels by stretching the yardages from 4,561 yards at the forward tees to 6,543 yards from the championship tees. One swing around this course and you won’t be surprised that it was called out as “One of the top 25 courses in the Twin Cities” by City Business Journal and sited as a “Top 5 Values” in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area by Minnesota Golf Guide.
Golf Course Manager Eric Ritter and long-standing Head Pro Jerry Kroc are proud of the fact that Wild Marsh plays to a smart golfer’s game. The carries that a handful of the holes present are not unreasonable and certainly doable for all levels of play. Right or left tee shots can be the key towards gaining good looks into the greens. If your driver is having a bad day, you may find yourself reaching into the bag for another sleeve of balls; but if things are going well, the scenic bridge rides and the surrounding natural wetlands are that much better. Eric’s background as a superintendent only emphasizes the fact that course conditions are at the forefront of prioritization at Wild Marsh. In 2019, all that bent grass has been a blessing.
Playing a course with this much water and natural beauty is straight up fun. The front nine features several shorter par 4’s and what is considered the signature hole #7 which is… dare I say… a monster par 5. No surprise that the design was created by a guy with the last name Marsh! It’s the balance between several short par 4’s, the long par 5 and the workable par 3’s that creates just the right touch of challenge and ‘I got this’ playability.
The back nine gets just a little wilder at Wild Marsh where their version of Augusta’s Amen Corner greets you at the 11th tee. This where your round can either go north or south. Don’t be too intimidated because you can take this stretch from 11-13 with stellar target work. From the blue tee’s a short par 4 (277 yards) transitions into a longish par four (370 yards) and closes with a challenging, long par 3 (199 yards). This is the point in the round where you might want to pause to catch your breath, regroup, adjust your hat and keep on smiling.
Eric and his team maintain a healthy events calendar that includes both women’s and men’s leagues as well as monthly couple’s nights. Wild Marsh also hosts a number of sponsored tournaments throughout the year along with it’s annual 2-day Club Championship. On Wednesday’s they offer a Golf and Lunch special, which has been well received and may be expanded in the future. The banquet room comfortably hosts groups up to 170 people with 20 years of experience wowing customers during weddings, banquets, family reunions and corporate meetings. Interior renovations were completed in 2019 enhances the atmosphere and compliments the professional staff is on hand to host your customized event.
2019 has brought about a change in the food and beverage operations at the municipally owned course. This decision was driven in an effort to better correlate service with golf patron preferences and Eric is happy to report the changes are working. A more focused menu and specialty foods (the best broaster chicken in the area) are providing everything a golf outing group could ever want. The Bar and Grill is open daily offering a full menu and a fully stocked bar featuring 12 rotating beer taps. The comfortable patio with magnificent views overlooking the golf course and two nearby lakes is an excellent spot to unwind after your round. Inside there are multiple televisions including two huge 80” screens which gives you that air-conditioned option to take in a game or golf tournament while relaxing with friends and family.
Given the short drive northwest of the Twin Cities, the abundance of natural beauty and a smart golf course design, Wild Marsh Golf Club is like entering another world where Mother Nature and refined golf design come together for a four hour pleasure cruise. I highly recommend you buy a ticket on this ride and get on board with the fun.