Stanley Thompson is generally hailed as the greatest architect in the history of his native Canada, but it’s little secret that he left a portfolio of fine designs around that nation’s southern neighbor. The last design outside of his homeland was North Oaks, a golf club northeast of Minneapolis.
Thompson was noted for both his bold par threes (which he plotted first while setting a routing) and his equally bold bunker choices. Both are evident at North Oaks. No. 15 is a cracker of a par three, requiring a missile of a 225-yard shot to clear a frontward bunker and stick the long, thin green. No.16 is a reachable par five that makes eager approachers think twice by surrounding the green with six large bunkers, each with a unique size and challenge. Take time to consider which is your favorite...and then do your best not to land in it.
The current effectiveness of these bunkers can be attributed to Tom Lehman and Chris Brands, who came in to conduct a renovation. Assuming the current layout lives up to Thompson’s original, you can take San Snead’s comments to heart: "Golf courses should be challenging, but also fair and honest, like North Oaks."