A giant takes large huge steps, but it’s not possible for it to get anywhere with just one leg. The Quarry at Giants Ridge is now renowned as the best public golf course in Minnesota, but Jeffrey Brauer laid out The Legend course at the same resort several years before, making the first footprint in what is now a 36-hole facility.
A footprint is also the calling card at this 18, as the No. 3 hole features the most iconic photograph at this resort: an enormous set of five bunkers shaped like a foot and toes. Cute, yes, but also contributing to the strategy of the hole, as players can choose to hit to a safer right fairway, farther from the green, or thread the needle at a thinner fairway near these mammoth toes for an opportunity to go at the green in two. This bunker and many other others stand out for their size, yet many visitors at Legend will find themselves focused on the short holes, which feature heroic carries in three instances.
Size isn’t everything at Legend...at just over 6,900 yards, the course can provide challenge to those who seek it, but is ultimately a friendly Giant.
If the Giants Ridge Legend course wasn’t located down the road from its sister Quarry, it would be considered one of the best in northern Minnesota. To play the Legend is a lot more straightforward than the Quarry, where holes need to be solved. That’s not to say the lesser known of the two is a pushover; in fact, it is anything but. On many holes, a ball that squirts into the dense forest is often never found; it is for this reason that the Legend can be very frustrating at times. The green shapes are mostly fair but can be a little gimmicky. Aesthetically, it is one of the prettiest courses of my home state, with two of the best par threes in Minnesota coming in at the 11th at 17th. The latter is the signature hole of the property, a 200-plus yard carry from the tips over a picturesque lake to a tight little green. The third, a par five dogleg, has a fun rendition of a bunker shaped like a massive bear footprint. As long as you can keep your ball in play, you’ll enjoy a round at the Giants Ridge Legend course. It is not to be overlooked once you’ve played its neighbor to the south.
My MN trip was based around playing all three of the northern MN Brauer courses. This course was built at a family resort, also a ski area and is well-maintained and reasonably priced, a value actually. It suffers a little from some long cart rides on the second nine and parallel 1 & 10 tee shots, 10 notable because of a long blind ride to the 10 fairway - associated with a halfway stop one can inadvertently hit into the fairway on 10 already played to by the group ahead of you (as I did, there we maybe 8 carts at the food hut and an open tee!)
The third hole is the site of the giants footprint bunker which is not as silly as it sounds. The hole is actually (As are most Brauer Par 5's) a wonderfully strategic hole loaded with options. The first nine is walkably routed, unlike the tour de France second nine which does involve two long rides to accommodate the land given the architect. Despite this the hole designs do not suffer. Two par 3's over water highlight the second nine which finishes on a seldom seen bunkerless Par 4.
Play all three is my advice, they are all of a high design and maintenance quality and are great value with pace of play quite remarkably just under 4 hours at the slowest of the three - Quarry, the sister of this course.
A top 10 course in the state and it has the Quarry just down the road. 100% worth taking them both in!
One of the best northern Minnesota courses designed for vacationers in the area to talk about when they get home. A proper wilderness track where you will see abundant deer, fox and the occasional bear. Conditions are normally very good to excellent.
Frequent elevation changes and green to tee distances make this a difficult one to walk. Everything is laid out to help discern the proper landing area and wide fairways make picking a line pretty easy. However....stray offline and towards the forest and you need not search for it.
Fairways and greens are generous with frequent mounds to make it all interesting. A couple forced carries to keep you honest.