Thursday, July 12, 2007

Course Review: Pezhekee National Golf Course

Peters Sunset Beach
Glenwood, MN

NOTE: From time to time, I visit courses in my area and give my impressions. I am not compensated to give these reviews.

View bottom of posting for rating categories.

Newer Minnesota resort courses are always trumpeting who their course designer is. Hale Irwin, Tom Lehman and Jack Nicklaus have all designed course in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Yet, Minnesota’s longest public golf course sits only 30 miles from Alexandria, Minnesota in the heart of The Range and it wasn’t built by a celebrity designer.

Pezhekee National is part of Peters Sunset Beach Resort, a quaint name for a quiet and tranquil track without the pretenses or crowds of more popular resorts. The grounds are everything you think of in a small family-owned resort: a 20s’s era main house, intimate dining room with a huge stone fireplace, family members holding various jobs, a small unpretentious golf clubhouse, and ultra-reasonable green’s fees (only $49 with cart).

When my playing partner and I drove in, we were greeted by the grandson of the original founder. He explained that the course’s development didn’t follow a normal route. It was built over a number of years and the holes reflect the changing tastes of the Peters family and the period of time each hole was created. From relatively straight original par 4s that were cut from the Northern Pine forest, to the new floating green on the 11th that was just completed in 2006, the Pezhekee National course adds up to a long, but forgiving round of eighteen.

The strength of the course is its layout, not its service. Minnesota’s largest public golf course plays 7263 yards from the tips but if you are looking for the cart girl to roll on by with mid-round libations, you’ll have a hard time finding her. There was no on-course beverage service when we stopped by on a Saturday. As you make the turn after number nine, which is probably as far from the clubhouse you’ll ever be, you’ll find pop machines and bathrooms but no food. If pangs of hunger tend to hit you two hours into your round, you better pack your own lunch, otherwise you’re out of luck

A weakness of the course is its signage. It’s very spotty, especially on the newer holes on the backside. It appears they ran out of time during construction or didn’t think they are necessary because knowing which way to go sometimes can be a challenge if you are a first-timer. Not to worry if you’ve got a good sense of direction.

If you are hoping to bring a group, one unique offering of Peters Sunset Beach Resort are large houses called Reunion Units. There are four of them and they are roomy seven and eight bedroom lodges that sleep 16-25 people. Rentals are by the ½ week (M-F or F-M) and cost about $40/person/day and are very popular with families, reunions, graduations or retirements. Each rental comes with 8-10 rounds of golf.

Pezhekee National doesn’t have long waits so making a reservation is as easy as showing up. Each hole has been given a Native American name like: Waube Mokwa (#1) and Mewissa (#5) and a quick tour of the dining room shows how closely linked the former owners are to the history of the resort. It is rumored that there are burial grounds on property, but management isn’t saying where.

If you are expecting four star resort treatment with spa amenities, you’ll need to go somewhere else, but if you are looking for a low-key, low-cost golf experience without the pretense of more flashy courses in the area, you should consider Pezhekee National, Minnesota’s longest public golf course and one of the State’s best golf deals.

Pezhekee National Golf Course
Glenwood, MN

Location: 5
Friendliness: 5
Value: 7
Layout: 5
Playability: 7

The Hacker Rating of this course isbased on the golfing experience for the average golfer. The course was rated on the following categories: Location -- easy access, easy to find, what’s nearby; Friendliness -- good service, cart girl, clubhouse, food choices; Value -- cost, what you get for your money; Layout -- length, bunkers, traps, difficulty, course style; Playability -- good for beginners, seniors, etc. The rating is based on scale of 1 to 10 in each category with a total possible rating score of 10.0 .

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