Marvelous Play At The Meadows at Mystic Lake
By Rhett Arens
There’s no mystery around The Meadows at Mystic Lake, the golf course at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel; it is a world class golf course where playing conditions and service are clearly given top priority. This course has grown up since its early years, and now plays like a seasoned champion in the prime of its life. That sounds like lofty language for a golf course that has to fight for your attention among the Valleyfair, Canterbury Park and Renaissance Festival happenings, but in truth why not combine it all. In fact, spend the night, order a steak, sip a fancy cocktail, bet on red to win and top it off with a good night’s sleep in luxurious comfort.
If you take a step back, it’s all a bit surreal. Back in 2002 golf was on an unprecedented upswing when the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community purchased the Lone Pine Country Club. By 2005 the renovation work was completed, and a much anticipated grand opening introduced The Meadows at Mystic Lake to the world. The course has been showered with numerous accolades, awards and recognition from all corners of the media including Golf Digest, Golfweek, and Midwest Gaming and Travel. Course architects Garrett Gill and Paul Miller combined their formidable design skill to bring the property to life, and in turn realizing its full potential. You can feel and appreciate the 40 plus years of experience that Garret and his team brought to The Meadows at Mystic Lake when you are addressing a shot, pulling up to a tee box or simply rolling along the cart paths.
Many of us like to arrive early and do some club work to prep for those ‘special rounds.’ The Meadows at Mystic Lake offers a wonderful, well-thought out practice facility. The driving range is complimentary with paid green fees, but is open to anyone for a minimal $15 fee. One unique feature is the practice fairway area has been contoured, shaped and graded to simulate the actual fairway design at The Meadows at Mystic Lake. There are the large practice greens to simulate the putting conditions found on the course. The larger of the two greens is 14,000 square feet and lies at the north end of the course near the starter building. The smaller second green is 8,000 square feet and is located near the clubhouse patio area. All this putting surface offers plenty of social distancing and space to work on your short game. As you can see, Ben Rosaasen, Director of Golf, and his staff take round preparation seriously, which speaks to the type of golfers that keep coming back.
Now that you’re properly warmed up the round starts off with a classic starting hole that will ease into your swing mode. At 372 yards from the white tee’s and bunkers in the wheelhouse zone it’s a perfect wake-up call for what is coming. Things get real on the lengthy par 5 third, which offers little or no chance of reaching in two. In fact, the water surrounding the island green practically guarantees it. Keep in mind that you are playing at ‘The Meadows.’ You’ve just finished a beautiful Garret Gill hole. Smartly he flips the coin and now you are squaring up to a drivable par 4. I have to qualify ‘drivable’ because it’s 284 yards from the whites and heavily bunkered out front. Another very well designed hole. The front nine ends with a real par opportunity on the 397 yard par 4 that plays straightforward with a few well-placed bunkers to avoid. This hole will allow you to turn the corner with a smile on your face.
With your muscles getting a little rest at the turn you will need that extra oomph to beat the long carry on the 480 yard par 5 tenth. This hole has a narrow feel and throws all of the elements into the mix – forced carries, water hazards, thick meadow grasses, well-placed bunkers and an undulated green. The first par 3 on the back is on the long side even as it plays downhill. Water on the right and trees on the left puts an edge on the hole. A back left pin can take a little of the sting out of it, but you never know where those pins will be on your day to play. Hole 16 will display much of that specialty water-feature aspect of The Meadows at Mystic Lake as you try to navigate this tricky short par 4 stunner. Best to take a hard swing and keep it centered for your over-the-water approach shot. More excellent design wizardry from Garret and his partner Paul Miller. Your round closes with a split fairway par 5 aptly named ‘Moose.’ It’s long, it’s strategic and it’s visually arresting. A gentle creek leads your eye into a wide fairway that splits around bunkers and continues into an island style green. Mystic Lake Casino Hotel’s complex is framed in the background as you approach which only adds to the excitement. It’s good place to keep your cool and work a wedge into the large green to close out with a par or even a birdie.
With that stunning casino backdrop against the 18th green, it’s time to explore Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, the neighboring casino. First off, it’s reassuring to know that the gaming and dining are back on track, as is the world-class hotel accommodations. There has been a lot of smart Covid-19 related changes put in place, but that is for your own safety and the safety of others. Mystic Lake Casino Hotel brings all the games all the time. You have slots, the poker tables, the pull-tabs, the bingo and not one but two options for playing location. The mothership Mystic Lake Casino Hotel is a sprawling layout with plenty of customer extras. The smaller, more intimate Little Six Casino sits next door and offers a comfortable cozy atmosphere. Both offer a splendid, rotating calendar of promotions that offer up everything from Funday Fortunes to Slots Sweepstakes. All of this casino action has built-in excitement with plenty of high-fives to be had by everyone.
The dining options are also plentiful and have been tweaked to insure proper social distancing while still providing the excellent food and service that these restaurants have built their reputation on. In total there are 12 dining, lounging or snacking options on the premises. That means there are top shelf, prime-aged steaks, late-night deli delights, Asian Fusion, classic pub fare and quick stops for sandwiches and light snacks. There are three cocktail lounges still operating with long lists of craft beers, custom martini’s and generous wine lists. These adult refreshment centers deliver the perfect reprieve from the gaming floor for a little sports watching, dancing to live music or romance.
Not surprisingly the entertainment schedule has kicked into postponed or reschedule mode due to the pandemic. It is sure to come roaring back when those venues get the green light. There are events still on the calendar for the October/November time frame, but we’ll see what happens as those dates approach. Hang on to your tickets and keep your fingers crossed.
With all the uncertainties we’ve faced in 2020, it is such a pleasure to walk into an environment like the Mystic Lake Casino Hotel or The Meadows at Mystic Lake golf course and partake in four hours of Championship level golf and/or a night of gaming. The high quality, impeccable service and glowing facility takes over and transports you’re playing experience, whether golf or blackjack into a marvelous Mystic experience.