The IRRRB, an agency of the State of Minnesota devoted to using iron ore taxes to rehabilitate the iron range, decided to turn its ski hill at Giant’s Ridge into a year around resort by adding a golf course, and selected Jeffrey D. Brauer, with Lanny Wadkins as PGA Tour consultant to design it.
The site was fully wooded, with room for one hole to cross beautiful Wynne Lake. There were problems, in that it was too small, and separate parcels had to be acquired to fit in 18 championship holes. The beautiful site also hosted numerous sensitive environmental areas, making design and permitting a challenge. It took nearly 30 routings to satisfy the various agencies and environmental groups reviewing the project.
Given its natural beauty, it was no surprise when it won 8th Place on Golf Digest’s Best New Resort Courses List when opened. It had the most votes, but the system deducted two points if walking was not allowed, which was the case here. It has been in the top ten of Minnesota public courses since opening, and in the top 100 US public courses in several publications, including Golf Digest and Golf News Network in 2016.
The golf course is 6,930 Yards from the back tees, and was designed to be a resort friendly course. We called it the gentle giant, and about 50% of golfers claim this as favorite, vs. the harder Quarry Course.
The majestic pines remind some of Augusta, but we left the edges slightly less refined to mimic the north woods experience. We worked around ancient red pines and local wetlands to maintain and enhance the environment. Ongoing testing shows minimal environmental impact, with much attributed to sensitive design.
Perhaps the most famous holes are the 17th over water, which resembles the famous 16th at Cypress Point in California, and the 3rd, with its iconic “Giant’s Foot Print” sand bunker dividing two fairways. If that was the only thing to recommend about the course, I would apologize, but solid holes abound.