Set out on the Vermillion Lake Indian Reservation, the Wilderness at Fortune Bay layout first opened its door to visitors in 2004, when the fairways of this casino course were carved from an undulating, forested landscape with rocky outcrops featuring on a number of holes.
Texas-based architect Jeff Brauer – who already had a track record in Minnesota with the Quarry and Legend courses at Giant’s Ridge – was engaged to design the Wilderness layout and he chose to fashion the fairways as wide playing corridors, making an allowance for all levels of golfing ability.The 540-yard 16th is a feature hole, where the fairway splits into an upper and lower deck, separated by a ridge of granite, with the left side looking the safer bet from the tee. This route requires a more difficult uphill approach shot to the postage stamp green, however, proving that it always pays to study the stroke saving guide in advance.
My MN trip was based around playing all three of the northern MN Brauer courses. I played my first of his in CO in 1996 or 7 maybe and have always enjoyed his work. I also enjoy discussing design with him and have been fortunate enough to have played with him a few times as well.
This course was built at a casino and is well-maintained and reasonably priced, a value actually. I think the Quarry at Giant's and this one are a slight step ahead of Legend, but all three are worth making a trip for fun of it.
Right off the bat is the unique double-double-fairway Par 5, no not a misprint. The fun does not stop there as the entire first nine is routed and flows flawlessly. Another double fairway appears at #4, and there is one at #16. The fifth green is an absolutely superb Biarritz green. Jeff is very concerned with creating great greens, he sketched away when I played Crystal Downs with him and two other architectural notables a few years ago. This Biarritz is just a hoot and most should have no more than a 7-9i in if you play the correct tees for you, likely even wedge play. It is a classic design so I single it out, however great putting surfaces come at you relentlessly.
The second nine has a couple of peculiar vistas (Most notably an apartment/hotel lodge kind of place) but not anything other than a surprise as otherwise it is you and nature. The 17th, being at a Casino gives you an opportunity to make $10-20 grand for an ace and is very straightforward and full of cameras - surely intentional as the other three Par 3's are visually outstanding.
I don't believe in making a course guide or you hole-by-hole in reviews, but hole 15 notes a comment as a wetland intrusion makes for an uneasy tee shot on first play. The hole is more a par 4.5 because of this once you know it, even playing 3-wood or hybrid off the tee. Otherwise one solid hole after another awaits you.
This is a top 5 public course in the state and a round runs under $100, find that in CA, FL, AZ, or other golf destination states! I absolutely love golf in Minnesota!