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Golf: Where do we go from here?

Red Wing's girls and boys golf teams will call the Red Wing Golf Club home this season. Both teams used to compete at Mississippi National Golf Links. Photo by Chris Harrell1 / 2
Red Wing's Nicole Schammel (foreground) and Maddie Flack (background) take part in practice Friday at Twin Bluff Middle School in Red Wing. Photo by Chris Harrell2 / 2

When the Red Wing City Council voted on Feb. 25 to temporarily shutter Mississippi National Golf Links for the year, it left the Red Wing boys and girls golf teams without a home.

The Wingers have competed at MNGL for years and the decision sent Red Wing Athletic Director Matt Schultz searching out a new basecamp for a perennially powerful golf program.

In MNGL's absence, the Red Wing Golf Club and Mount Frontenac Golf Course in Florence, Minn., stepped in. Red Wing will host its two invitationals, one for girls and one for boys, at the Red Wing Golf Club.

"(MNGL) was obviously a fantastic facility for us because of two courses and the driving range right there," Schultz said. "The Red Wing Golf Club called me late in the fall knowing all this news of (MNGL) kind of came to a head. They were willing to take us out there. It's huge."

The Red Wing Golf Club is tucked into the hilly surroundings of Red Wing and its difficult layout could provide a bigger home advantage for Red Wing but adapting to the course will time, Red Wing head girls golf coach Mark Herzog said.

"The country club is kind of a unique type course; it's very tight," said Red Wing girls golf coach Mark Herzog. "As our girls get accustomed to the course, it might be a bigger home-course advantage. The large scheme of things, we have two big sized invitationals at home. It's more of a practice place. ... It's not like basketball, here you get two (home meets) and the other ones are all away.

"If you haven't played it, the country club is going to be more difficult, no doubt about that," Herzog added. "Hard courses aren't bad. There will be a lot more premium on your short game."

The biggest issue with leaving MNGL is the lack of a driving range at the Red Wing Golf Club and Mount Frontenac. As of now, the driving range at MNGL will remain open with a partnership between the city and Turf Solutions and Management. The Wingers will plan to use the driving range for practice despite the Red Wing Golf Club remaining their home course for the 2013 season.

"The question about is that there's no warm-up facility really to speak of except for the two hitting nets up there," Schultz said. "When you're shotgun starting seven golf teams, there's not a lot of time for them pre-match to get themselves going. Some of the teams will probably stop and hit somewhere."

And the MNGL conversation is far from dead.

The Red Wing Municipal Golf Corporation, a local nonprofit, proposed to run the course earlier this year and the city council declined the five-year lease agreement on Feb. 25. The partnership with the Red Wing Municipal Golf Corporation will be broached again at Monday's council meeting. On Monday, the council is slated to discuss another proposal from the Red Wing Municipal Golf Corporation and several other items related to MNGL, according to the Red Wing City Council agenda.

The Wingers are still holding to their arrangement with the Red Wing Golf Club despite all the final details still being up in the air. The Wingers created a winning culture at MNGL and will attempt to move on.

"It's our only home we've had," Herzog said of MNGL. "Obviously I really enjoyed it there. The girls program started there. That's where the history is but we can start something new at a different place.

"Some of the girls are members at the Red Wing Golf Club, so they're excited for that," Herzog said. "As the year plays out, we'll have a better idea of how things work. It could be really bad if there weren't other courses around."

Chris Harrell
Chris Harrell is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he interned at the St. Paul Pioneer Press and The Daily Caller in Washington, D.C. For updates on local sports, follow Chris on Twitter at @RECHarrell.
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