Columbia Golf Course
by Mark Sculati
When a golfer visits a course for the first time, there is always an air of expectancy regarding the Big Three. Whats the Big Three? Questions every golfer asks/talks about before and after each round played; What are the green fees? What kind of shape is the course in? How long will it take to play?
Depending on the eggshell psychic of each golfer, one question may be more important than the other. Question number one and number three have definitely changed over the past three to five years. Green fees have gone up and the average round played is bordering on 4 ½ - 5 hours, no matter how much you hit into the group in front of you (see Eages). The four-hour round in the metro area is a myth; it never happens so quit your bitchin.
Given these three questions, Columbia Golf Course, located in northeast Minneapolis, is definitely a track you should play. The green fees range from $20 on weekdays to $20 on weekends (thats right - no b.s. extra charge for playing on Saturday/Sunday) - a bargain compared to the overpriced dollars people are paying stuffed shirts at some metro courses. You can play Columbia three times for what it costs to play once at some courses and heres a little hint: they both have the same green grass, fairways, greens, and you hit the same little white ball. What a country!
Columbia is not an easy golf course and will force the average golfer to play, as they say, "the whole course." A recent trip saw one of our 10 handicappers shoot a 99 (see Stu Dio). Granted, it was windy, but Columbia will force you to use every club in your bag - truly a mans course (no offense, ladies!).
With a distance of 6131 from the white tees, it is deceptively long. Four of the par fours are over 400 yards long (the numbers 1, 2, 5 & 6 handicapped holes). A quick check of our scorecard showed three pars, four bogeys, six double bogeys, two triples, and one snowman on those four holes (wheres the beer cart?). If you dont get off the tee on those four holes (#2, #7, #13, #15), the paramedics better be standing by.
The par threes - theres five of them (one above normal), play a little easier. Number three and eight are an easy 129 yards and 102 yards respectively, but the other three are legitimate and require good tee shots. Number five plays 191 yards into a prevailing wind in your face - not an easy three.
The par fives are rarely reachable but with good course management, a five should be had. All in all, a fair but tough layout.
The greens were hard and fast, but most were green and in good shape (tough to find after our winter). Some of the low lying fairways were brown with winter kill, but with time, should fill out. The tee boxes need some work as there were a lot of dirt spots (Hey, thats what tees are for).
With a start time of 1:04 and a finish of 6:00, our five hour round was right in line. Its what we expected and on a beautiful day, where else would you want to be?
Side Note #1: Columbia has one of the best driving ranges around. Cards show distances to all the flags from up and down the range. A full snack bar is available. There are professionals there to give lessons. There are lights for late night driving. There is a putting green whose only downfall is no cups (little flags which stick into the ground).
Side Note #2: A new starter shack has been built by the number one tee to increase efficiency (move along little doggie).
Side Note #3: All Minneapolis public golf course phone numbers roll over to Ready Golf Reservations. This service makes tee times (guaranteed by credit cards) for all the courses. If your foursome does a no-show, no-call they charge it to your credit card. So if you have a hung-over fourth who doesnt make it (see Shea), you will still have to pay. (Andy, Ill let you know when my credit card bill comes in).