Wedged between two main highways on the western outskirts of Minneapolis, the course at Woodhill Country Club is a strong Donald Ross layout that dates back to 1917. The architect is then said to have returned to make further modifications to the course in the early 1930s. Jack Nicklaus won the Trans-Mississippi Amateur here in 1959, retaining the title he’d won a year earlier at Prairie Dunes.
In The American Private Golf Club Guide, Daniel Wexler describes the course as “a tree-lined, sometimes wooded layout with a solid reputation around the Twin Cities area. Like many a mid-range Ross design, there isn’t a lot of flash here, but there are plenty of strong holes.”
The author then cites the following as notable holes: “the 421-yard 4th , the 424-yard 6th (where left-side trees influence the approach), the 221-yard 8th and the 426-yard 11th, which plays across a narrow, sloping fairway. Not as strong, but equally memorable, is the 137-yard 2nd, a short pitch to a small push-up green.”
Woodhill Country Club is a country club indeed. In addition to its Donald Ross golf course, it boasts a swimming pool, clay and grass tennis courts. Things don’t slow down in the winter either. Ice skating and curling on the pond to the left of the 16th hole, a luge run down the 17th fairway, along with paddle tennis keep the members entertained through the long Minnesota winter.
The golf course opened in 1917 and is typical of Ross’s early work. The routing is well done, with holes running various directions and the par 3s in all four directions. And there are a number of holes (4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 14, and 18) with strategy requirements from the tee. But the greens have little of the fine contours that mark his later work.
Woodhill CC is a club with immense tradition and you can feel it everywhere. The course itself stays very true to its original form. The land overall has a decent roll to it. My favorite hole was the par 3 second which was somewhat Volcano-esque and required you to hit the green or face a difficult up hill recovery. Seven was a nice short dog leg par with an interesting green. Nine is a really weird whole that essentially requires a slice off the tee as it dog legs quickly and hard to the right. The other awkward hole was the 200 yard par 3 13th as it has a tree that over hangs most of the green requiring a hard draw to even attempt hitting the green. The course does finish with a strong stretch over a rolling piece of the property from 15-18.
Woodhill seems a bit caught in time and some of the tree overhangs show that. It has a lot of Ross feeling holes with elevated tees and up hill approaches to raised up greens. A bit too much quirk but solid overall.