Golf: Mount Frontenac challenges, then lifts the spirits with views
FRONTENAC — Sure, try to hit the road. You won't. But give it a go, pretty much everyone else who has gone through has done the same.
But, really, you won't even hit the railroad tracks, and probably won't make it to the base of the bluff. That's OK. The highway is a half-mile away, and the tracks maybe a few hundred feet closer. Dustin Johnson won't get there, and neither will you.
Oh, and make sure to take a picture. Just like everyone else has. Post it on your social media accounts with a boast of your shot. Just be quick, because there's another group coming and they're going to want to do the same.
"Every hole is different, every hole has a different view," General Manager Dan Diggins said. "People always ask me, 'What's the signature hole?' We don't really have one. From No. 1 to the 18th and the view of the clubhouse coming in, it's beautiful all around."
Mount Frontenac Golf Course isn't long, playing 6,226 yards from the blue tees, 6,003 from the whites and just 4,882 from the reds. But golfers will rarely get through without problems. There are few flat lies beyond the tee boxes, and the greens are small. And that's to say nothing about the trees and sand and the sheer drop of the bluffs that sit just a few yards off some of the greens.
Like No. 7.
"That's the slowest hole on the course because everyone tries to hit the highway," Diggins said with a laugh. "We've had people say they hit the tracks. No. We've had people with binoculars and people don't even hit the swamp. If it even goes 350, it still comes straight down and short. But people love to try."
A couple holes later, going left once again can ruin a hole.
"Twelve and 13 are awesome, you see the valley on 12 and 13 you look back at Lake Pepin. Gorgeous. That's why the parking lot is full every day. The course is always in great shape, people love the greens, and the views," Diggins said.
There is a little bit of spite, however. And it doesn't take long to get to it.
"Some people love No. 5, some people hate 5," Diggins said. "It's a tough par 3. It's tough. You tee off over that valley and the green is up top, no one takes enough club. Everyone is short. I can watch 100 golfers go through, and 99 of them are short."
But most golfers will forget No. 5 after taking their chances at the railroad on No. 7.
And, soon, perhaps more and more will come to play the course should the proposed Olympic ski jump be built. Diggins said adding the possibility of 60,000 more visitors to the 30,000 who already come will mean he's going to need some help.
The Prairie Island Indian Community, which owns and operates the course, will surely help him out. In the meantime, Diggins will continue to look after the course, and make any changes necessary to keep it in shape, and to keep people coming back with a challenging course, food, a bar and the ability to host events like weddings.
"It is what it is. It's the views," Diggins said. "It's a short golf course, but it's not easy."
This is the first in a series of stories about local golf courses. The bluffs present a different kind of terrain, which contrasts greatly with links and parkland styles. It is what makes the local 18s unique in their own way.