|by Kevin Turnquist
Minneapolis Public Golf Course. Four words to bring out the golf snob in us all. images spring to mind of old guys in circa 1969 zip-up polyester jackets and roll-up hats. Eight second backswings resulting in 130 yard drives. Five and-a-half hour rounds that feel even longer. Browned out fairways and beat up greens. Like all stereotypes, this one is built upon a modicum of truth but contains a goodly amount of distortion.
Hiawatha Golf Course is really not such a bad track. Built in 1934 along the shores of Lake Hiawatha, it provides a nice urban getaway for public course golfers tired of thirty dollar rounds and forty minute commutes. The scenery is surprisingly pretty, rates are reasonable, and a cart is an unnecessary luxury.
Foremost among Hiawathas surprises is the fact that it is a genuinely fun course to play. At 6279 yards from the white tees it has decent length. Fairways are wide enough to allow hitting drivers off the tees of nearly all of the par fours and fives. Good drives will nearly always yield relatively easy approach shots. Bad ones are penalized by the mature trees lining the fairways but seldom by strokes for lost balls or out of bounds. Many holes offer lake views but water only comes into play on three holes. Traps arent particularly numerous and arent set in the strategic manner of many of the newer courses. Greens are average sized and contain no gimmicky humps of the sort that are never found in nature but are common at premium public clubs and miniature golf courses.
Hiawatha is in surprisingly good condition, especially considering the amount of traffic it gets. Fairways are watered well and actively maintained. A few areas of ground under repair were noticeable. Tees are in adequate shape. Greens are a bit on the hard side but not as marked up as we anticipated. Blind golfers arent going to mistake this course for The Wilds yet one can tell that the grounds crew is making an honest effort to keep the turf in playable shape.
While some of Hiawathas surprises are fairly obvious, it provides another benefit that is more subtle. This course is a genuine ego soother. Knowledgeable golfers who have been in a slump, or are just tired of getting knocked around by tougher courses, come here to feel good about their game again. Scores at Hiawatha are usually more in line with what you feel you should shoot on a golf course than those dreadful aberrations that often result elsewhere. This is a valuable service for a golf course to provide.
Those of us who play a lot of different course have learned that
eventually each course develops its own little niche in our golfing ecosystem. Hiawatha is
the chicken soup with a hot toddy chaser that you need when your golf game is struggling
with a nasty virus.
Hiawatha Golf Course