Jackpot Junction And Dacotah Ridge – Winning Wagers
By E. Nolan
It’s hard to feel like we’re winning at anything these days. We take two steps forward… then seemingly twelve steps back. So much uncertainty looming the next few weeks, months, and (perhaps) years in academics, politics and even sports… it’s frustrating, and quite hard to believe ANYTHING is a solid bet. But GOLF is. It has proven to be so the past few months – defiantly resilient and mercifully rewarding. And, knowing (now) that we can bet on golf to get us through some of these tough days, we can double down on those bets by taking our game to a place where we can easily place other successful bets – Jackpot Junction Casino.
Pun intended? Cliché? Yes, and sure. But, who cares? The point is the point – that Twin Cities golfers feeling a bit trapped, cooped up and restricted in their typical golf travel plans can still get out of the house, hop in the car and take the easy, scenic drive only 100 miles west of Minneapolis to Morton, Minnesota for a Stay & Play day-cation (or weekend) featuring a “Best in Minnesota” golf course and an action packed palace of gaming, dining and entertaining.
The highly-acclaimed golf course is a Rees Jones-designed, 18-hole, championship beast built on beautiful, bold and brawny prairie-farmland. By now you’ve probably heard about it plenty – likely seen it listed on the “Best Places You Can Play” charts in Golfweek and Golf Digest Magazine. You’ve read the GolfAdvisor raves, heard about the challenging rough and seen the pictures that look NOTHING like southern Minnesota (but definitely are). By now you have to have heard other people (besides me) telling you it’s a stunning test of your game – a testament to the genius of Mr. Jones’s architectural talent that he was able to manipulate the turf so dynamically to present so many different shots and hole designs from what most would have quickly (and foolishly) dismissed as unappealing, marginally-manageable, riverside cropland.
Okay, so the course was built by one of the game’s elite architects. And, great, he figured out a way to make beautiful land playable. But, why else should I risk a given great day at a local favorite course to go check it out? Well, wherever you’re coming from – Twin Cities (100 miles), Wilmar (48 miles), St. Cloud (100 miles), Sioux Falls (145 miles) or Fargo (210 miles) – you should know that Dacotah Ridge has one of Minnesota’s five best opening holes (at least of the 108 MN courses I’ve played)… so your “risk” is generously rewarded straight out of the gate. The generosity continues through the next two holes southbound, across wide, fescue-lined fairways, where firm turf tumbles your ball forward and the green speeds are consistent and carefully calculated to accommodate the respective pin placements on your day of play.
At hole four you get your first beautiful glimpse of the land-locked pond guarding the left side of the green on your downhill Par 3, and the right side of the fairway on the pursuant give-and-take Par 4 (5th). Those two holes yield the first real taste of Jones’s artistic greatness. From there, as you turn north and wander past the other lake holes, you accept the fact in full that you’ve made a great decision to come play here and look forward to catching those other great lake holes on the back nine. But, before you get there, you’ve got another fun three-hole stretch at 7, 8 and 9 that takes you alongside and over Wabasha Creek and back to the clubhouse for a brief breather (and chance to text your favorite front 9 pictures to your friends). Make sure to include the words, “You should be here.”
While many could describe most of the course as “links-style,” the back nine is a bit of a hybrid with woodlands. Whether or not Rees could have removed all the trees in the four-hole finale, he strategically opted not to – giving the golfer a unique concluding twist, just after you’ve figured out how to approach and attack the other fourteen holes. Most players will tell you the 11th hole is their favorite on the back, but holes 12 and 13 are a dynamic dual against not just the wind and fescue elements, but against the water tightly guarding both greens. Without overdoing the hole-by-hole descriptions, suffice it to say there are a plethora of ways to play this 7,109 yard course and first-timers are best served to pick a set of tees one box short of where you think you should play (Blues-6,642 / Whites-6,217 / Reds-5,055). Trust me, this course is no pushover at any distance, and if you have time to practice on their full-range beforehand, it is well-advised.
That’s the golf course – half of the popular package. The other half of the Stay & Play is Jackpot Junction Casino, literally only 4.9 miles from the Dacotah Ridge clubhouse. Like every exceptional entertainment facility in the state, Jackpot Junction is closely following recommended COVID related guidelines, and has constant updates on their website (I highly recommend checking out www.JackpotJunction.com before ANY visit).
You can safely navigate the game floors and restaurants on your own or with your family/friends and the hotel/casino staff is extremely accommodating in terms of addressing any concerns. They know you’re there to get away and they want to help you relax (and they successfully accommodate hundreds of guests weekly even now). Game tables, slot machines and restaurants are open, properly spaced and doling out buckets of money daily. Just get your bucket over there and cash in!
The hotel continues to offer a variety of lodging options – from deluxe rooms to spacious suites – with an assortment of king, queen and double beds, plus some hospitality suites, VIP Lounges, fireplaces and some Jacuzzis. There’s also an RV Park just steps away from the casino that continues to be a popular option thanks to the full hook-ups, complimentary cable and Wi-Fi.
So, you can play in style and stay in comfort, but you also need food. Jackpot Junction and Dacotah Ridge have that end covered too. The Players Lounge and Circle Bar cater to the active players, and with Caribou Coffee and the 2Go Food Express offer guests quick food and beverage options at all active hours. For more of a meal, you can always go to The Full Deck (with more great drink options) and Dacotah Dining for casino-based sit down meals. Naturally there are plenty of “to go” options for those preferring to eat in their rooms or outside. Just ask at the information desk for what you’re looking for (food/drinkwise) and they’ll direct you. One more dining establishment worth highlighting is back at the golf course – the fabulous Wabasha Creek Restaurant with its incredible views out over the golf course. It’s a great taste of what you’ll get while playing and a great place to taste some great food after golf. Works both ways.
You’ll appreciate about Dacotah Ridge and Jackpot Junction the same things I do, especially right now. They’re grateful for your visit and hope you’ll tell your friends about your experience. Worth the drive. All the time.