The Minikahda Club dates back to 1898 and the club’s first professional, Willie Watson – who co-designed the nearby Interlachen course – laid out the original 9-hole course. Seven years later, additional land was acquired to extend the layout to 18 holes and Robert Foulis oversaw its completion in 1907, with Tom Bendelow making some minor modifications very shortly after.
The club hosted the US Open in 1916 when Chick Evans became only the third amateur to capture the trophy and it was just after this competition that Donald Ross was called in to redesign the course. Unfortunately, World War I intervened so his changes were not implemented until the end of 1920, creating the much-loved layout that’s in place today.
A number of significant amateur championships have been held at the club since Donald Ross revamped Minikahda.
The US Amateur Championship was held at the club in 1927 when Bobby Jones won the third of his five titles, defeating Chick Evans 8 & 7 in a somewhat one-sided Final and the Walker Cup was won by the US men’s team in 1957 when they outplayed Great Britain and Ireland 8-3.
The ladies have made their mark too as the US Women's Amateur was held here in 1988 when Pearl Sinn defeated Karen Noble in the final match by a score of 6 & 5 and the 30th series of Curtis Cup matches were played ten years later with the US team defeating Great Britain & Ireland by the narrow margin of 10-8.A number of prominent architects have worked on the course in recent years, including Geoffrey Cornish and Craig Schriner in the late 1980s and early 1990s and Ron Prichard – the “Ross Restorer” – who was called in by the club in 2001 to lengthen the layout, prune trees, reshape greens, reconstruct and replace bunkers.
According to the Top 100 website, there have been 8 architects that have touched this course. Seems alarming, but it was mostly Donald Ross and most recently a beautiful restoration carried out by Ron Prichard. The club has a special committee dedicated to reviewing any proposed changes to the course. This committee is made up of all living golf chairman and any consulting architects. It emphasized that any proposed changes to this old gem go through a rigorous and well calculated voting process. Thousands of trees have been cleared opening up wonderful views across the rolling property.
This is a hugely underrated Ross course and it emphasized to me how he left his mark in this state in addition to the outstanding layout at White Bear Yacht Club.
During my round, I was admiring the routing and the wonderful walk to each of the gorgeous green-sites until we reached a spaghetti junction type area on the back nine. I made two guesses as to where the next tee was, and on both occasions my guesses were incorrect. It turned out that we had to cross over behind a couple of greens, cross over a bridge over a busy road and continue onto a separate paddock for a 4-hole loop before returning back over the bridge to the main paddock. Fortunately, the quality of the golf doesn’t diminish at all; there is just a break in the flow.
If you’re fortunate to visit this special club, make sure you look at the old aerial photographs showing the original and current routing of the course. The course is in immaculate condition, however it is increasingly noticeable the different grass seeds sprouting on the fairways. The club is very aware of this encroaching feature and may end up just closing the course in the coming years to re-grass the entire property to ensure a consistent look. They are already experimenting in certain isolated places with a type of bent grass. But overall, it's an outstanding venue and a real treat so close to a city!