by Arnie Hamel
Proper club selection is imperative on a challenging golf course like Rush Creek. Water hazards are present on most holes and generous sand traps cozy up around neatly kept greens. Throw into the mix an unrelenting, two-club wind and its easy to see approach shots and scores soar ever skyward, ending up well short of their intended targets.
Such was the case for some of us during the SportsPages return visit to RC on a warm, gusty June afternoon. Opened in 1996 on a swamp in Maple Grove, Rush Creek is a significantly longer course from the one we visited in its rookie season. From the blue tees, the total distance is 6640 yards, up from 6259. The slope is 136, up from 127.
The course is beautiful and immaculate and offers plenty of contrasting Maple Grove scenery, most notably the rolling, lush fairway of the downhill, dogleg par four 16th, which serves as the foreground for the closely grouped trailer park homes beyond the fence. Who ever said Rush Creek didnt build course homes into its design?
Rush Creek can boast of a tremendous layout as it meanders smoothly along, with rolling hills and fairways dodging around Rush Creek, Goose and Cook lakes. Word from more than one employee was that the course is currently in its best shape ever. Our group saw nothing that led us to believe otherwise. From nicely perched tee boxes to meticulously groomed fairways and artfully designed greens throughout, Rush Creek is nearly flawless for a course of such relative youth.
Designed by John Fought and Bob Cupp, the Creek has quickly established itself as a must-play for any golf enthusiast. Several holes were memorable, some out of frustration, but many more because the feeling you were on an obviously elite golf track was unavoidable.
The 532-yard par five second hole gets you introduced to Rush Creeks dynamic personality rather quickly after a gentlemanly opening hole. Theres lots of lake to the left and thick woods to the right on this hard-to-reach lefty dogleg. With winds gusting to 30 miles-per-hour and big, sugary sand traps protecting the green, reaching in three on this day was an accomplishment.
With water levels extremely high, many tough holes became even tougher. Like the par four 13th, which required an accurate driver into a pesky breeze with an overflowing creek straight ahead and to the right. Assuming (hypothetically, of course) your driver doesnt abandon you, youre still left with a tricky approach shot to a well-guarded, elevated green.
Among the favorite par threes was the high and dry 15th, with the green surrounded in bowl-shape fashion by steep mounds. One member of our foursome hit a drive slightly to the right of the green that hit the hill and fed right down onto the green and just past the hole. Another hit his slightly left and had his ball kick away from the green, leaving a blind, 40-yard chip shot over the mound. Listed at 143 yards, the hole played right into the wind and had our group hitting 6- and 7-irons off the tee.
The par three 187-yard seventh was one of our favorites as well. Its a down hill tee shot with intruding trees on the left and three sand traps to the right. This time, with the wind at our backs, the challenge was to avoid hitting the ball long and over a sizable hill beyond the green. For one of us, the hole marked the first time ever that his six-iron traveled over 200 yards.
The Creek aint cheap with green fees approaching $100, and twilight rates half that amount. But, to their credit, the management at Rush Creek is certainly doing all it can to justify its price tag. Currently under construction is the expansion of an already nice sized clubhouse into something much more accommodating for large groups and tournaments, such as the upcoming World Series of Womens Golf, September 6-12.
Also helping justify the cost is the assignment of a forecaddy to each group, something not found at any other course weve played so far. The forecaddy is intended to speed up play, help locate stray orbs, make distance judgments and club recommendations and generally enhance the golfers experience. The idea, while good in theory, mildly offended two veterans in our group who yammered on about their days as young caddies, hauling one, sometimes two bags over their shoulders. Forecaddies earn $5.15 per hour plus a recommended tip of $10 from each player.
With a slope of 136, a 71.2 rating and a total distance of 6640 yards from the blue tees, Rush Creek is among both the most delightful and difficult courses in the metro area. A public course with a private club feel, Rush Creek is well worth the quick drive up 94 to Maple Grove. If you happen to tee off with a stiff gust of wind in your face as we did, be prepared for an added challenge on a course loaded with beautiful and difficult holes.
Click here to read the SportsPage's first Rush Creek review, published in 1997.
Click here to visit the Rush Creek web site (one of the best golf course web sites we've seen.)
Rush Creek Golf Club