Located in Cook County, Minnesota, Superior National is a great example of how renovating a course can go a long way to creating a fresh and exciting new experience, with improved functionality. Golf Architect, Jeffrey D. Brauer, took on the task of refining both the River 9 and Canyon 9, bringing 18-holes of unforgettable golfing!
Each course posed its own set of unique challenges.
River 9 was updated to include five new tees, playable roughs and wider fairways. The outdated irrigation and drainage systems have been transitioned into an environmentally-friendly solution, that help to maintain the immaculate, larger greens.
No. 4 River, this hole is an instant favorite, with the angled carry bunkers just daring you to hit further than you think you can! Here, you can see the architect has wisely chosen the safer line further right.
5th Hole, Par 5
No 6. River. While not everyone is a fan of “bunker left, bunker right” on many greens, uphill greens are the exception, where the bunkers help define the putting surface. Design 101!
How many holes have views of a water body as their second most attractive holes? For our money, the holes playing over the rushing rapids of the Poplar River are even more enticing. Water plus sound!
8th Hole River, Par 3, was part of River Nine Rerouting that created some exciting new holes.
No. 9 River was in need of major surgery, as the original hole was blind, over a hill. The original architect had cut a fairway saddle to hint at the direction of play, but we took it further, as seen by the tall slope on the left, cutting the ridge and raising the tees so golfers can see the entire hole.
Golf Architect, Jeffrey D. Brauer addresses attendees.
Course provided new signs to help in re-branding the completely redesigned property.
Canyon 9 was also updated to include five new tees, white sand bunkers, larger putting-friendly greens, and an environmentally friendly irrigation system.
No.1 Canyon was made more playable for the first tee shot of the day for many. The old hole tried to cram 2 fairway where one should be, and they were reversed sloped so few balls could hold the fairway, not the way to start the day! Again, major earthmoving created one, bowl shaped fairway that holds tee shots. The architect also added a back tee to allow more players to hit full driver before going into the creek, and target bunkers on the left side of the second landing zone of this par 5 for better aim.
No. 2 Canyon shows the benefits or renovation – fix what’s broken. The old green was too steep to putt, and the fairway in front had a 20% cross slope, putting all short approach shots into a little pond. Jeffrey D. Brauer flattened the green a bit (it is still tricky because some slopes go back toward the hill and are difficult to read) and most of all, expended about 10,000 cubic yards of fill to level the approach area. The hole is still a difficult long par 4, but provides essentials of “bail out” room and playability.
No. 3 was extended to be a 570 yard par 5 by acquiring some ski hill land to move the green. More rare for the architect than the bunker right, bunker left on hole no. 6, is completely fronting the green with bunkers as he did here. Given few can reach the green, a wedge approach is all that was needed to the triple deck green. Feathering it in when the pin is up front, just behind the bunkers is the Sunday pin. The ski hill backdrop is the third major backdrop theme of Superior National.
No. 6 Canyon. Not much golf in the picture, but I always stop to look at the Poplar River.
No. 8 Canyon, a drop shot par 3, gives views of both Lake Superior and the Poplar River. When nature provides everything you need, the wise architect avoids artificial hazards. A harsh winter affected conditioning slightly, but everyone had a great time. I am old enough to remember when these “bad” conditions were the best we hoped for!
Jeffrey D. Brauer/GolfScapes, Inc.
3809 Canton Jade Way
Arlington, TX 76005