Willingers Golf Club is a public access facility south of Minneapolis, designed by the team of Garrett Gill and George Williams. The two halves of the course give distinctly different experiences for players, both representative of Minnesota: The front nine works its way around a series of lakes and ponds, while the back nine travels through forested corridors.
The potential for penalty will certainly be high during the opening nine: No. 4 is an 185-yard par three with a skinny green...one pond sits to the left, and on to the right, while the front is guarded by a large bunker. Maybe just pull a wood and miss long?
One thing that Willingers doesn’t travel through? Real estate. Although a slight drive from the city, a round of golf tucked amid rural repose is the unique value proposition here. One of the nearby tourist attractions is the Peat Bog State Wildlife Management Area. Ireland and Scotland are known for their bog mummies...so who knows? Maybe the ball you lose to the wetland may be preserved for another golfer to find a few thousands years later!
Willingers is an above average public routing that would likely command a hefty initiation fee if it were 30 minutes closer to the Twin Cities and private. The first tee box brings into play a spectacular view, one you won’t forget long after your round has concluded. Many of the holes run together on the opening half. You might ask yourself: “Haven’t I played this one before?” a few times. The exception to that is the par five sixth; the beast is guarded completely on the left side by water and should be played with caution. The conditioning is fine, I suppose, but nothing to write home about. The back nine features a few more interesting holes guarded by tall trees. My favorite offering on that side has to be the par five 18th, a downhill, semi-blind tee shot that, if the tee ball rolls far enough, can be reached in two stellar shots. The second will be scary though, as the skinny green is protected by five bunkers and a pond to the left. Willingers is certainly a great offering for those willing to travel a bit from the Twin Cities, but probably ranks somewhere around 10th on my list of area public courses. I walked away wanting just a little bit more variety given the heavenly location and lack of housing on the property. Still, Willingers is a fun getaway from the noise of the city.
Making a special trip to Willinger's for those with high expectations will soon disappoint.
Wandering through marshland for six holes, hill to valley for 8 holes and two flat ho-hummers will leave you wondering if there is a hole worth remembering. Conditions overall are okay with the course being kept up however, the terrain and the water take a toll on overall conditions and especially the greens which vary greatly in speed.