They're hidden in name only!

Hot Spot

Hidden Greens in Hastings challenges your ability to judge distances, make smart club selections and stay out of the ever-present forest

by Ed Zackley

The SportsPage’s ‘B’ squad golf staff made a memorable journey to Hidden Greens Golf Course in Hastings for a Monday of irrespon-sibility amid the scorching heat. With a state-high 97 degree day beating down upon the city of Hastings, we were thankful for the prevailing shade throughout this tree-lined course and also for the prompt service from the sympathetic beer cart lady.

The goal on this day was obviously not to shoot our age, but rather the heat, which we did despite a rough front nine on a relatively straight-forward layout. Hidden Greens is full of nicely conceived holes that reward the straight shooter. Since we had no one among us who would dare make such a claim, we consoled ourselves with the fact that we truly saw the whole course and thus were in a good position to write about it.

Iron made ‘em
If you don’t have a good breakfast before playing Hidden Greens, don’t worry, you’ll get your daily allowance of iron on the course. Good players could almost play this little gem with their driver in the trunk. But since a few par fours are reachable for the long hitter (#2, 290 yds.; #8, 281 yds.; #14, 295 yds.; #15, 293 yds.), pulling out the Burner Bubble takes on added suspense at Hidden Greens and the potential for birdies on most holes is real.

One of the unique features at Hidden Greens is the presence of water instead of sand throughout the course. Not one sand trap was seen on the 18 holes, which for the ‘B’ squad played to our strengths. Instead, water was the course’s primary obstacle on the way to our numerous bogeys, occasional explosions and sprinkling of pars.

Speaking of water, a warning: The drinking fountain at the intersection of holes three, four and five spouts a wicked geyser which on this steamy day was no big deal, but if you happen to be sporting new golf shoes or a fancy new shirt, wetness problems may occur. One estimate put the water stream at 20 feet high. Caution when turning the nozzle is highly recommended.

Signature holes
Among the best holes was the number one handicapped 395 yard par four at 16. A dogleg right leads to a massive body of water in front of a spacious - yes, hidden - green. Golfers can either play it safe and shimmy along the right side of the fairway, avoiding potential moist shots, or they can pull out the eight iron after a good drive and launch aggressively over the tall trees and 100-plus yard ocean to set up the birdie try. No birdies were had in our group, but then again no one put a shot into the lake, which was deemed a minor victory to our sunburnt psyches.

Hole number eight also presents water as the number one demon and not surprisingly is Hidden Greens’ number two handicapped love affair. A small creek flows across the fairway not once but twice on the way to an isolated green 281 yards from the launch site. Well-struck irons off the tee found the drink on this hot day for three of our foursome. Even if played safely, the approach shot must again evade water in order to reach in regulation. Hole eight is the best example of the course’s required precision. Hidden Greens challenges your ability to judge distances, make smart club selections and stay out of the ever-present forest which accompanies you.

Hidden meaning
The name of the course, Hidden Greens, intrigued us as to its true meaning. After getting bogus directions from a storeclerk at the downtown Hastings Citgo, we thought maybe we were part of a bad local joke and the course was truly hidden. Another of us thought we were in for an excessively tough course that didn’t reveal the location of the greens from the tee boxes. But as we initially thought, the name reflects a quaint and immaculately kept course just off the beaten path.

Hidden Greens is no chip shot from the metro area but, like so many of my friends, its charm and good looks makes it worth pursuing. And at $17 on weekdays and just $18 on weekends and holidays, Hidden Greens is a cheap date you can go on more than once. The staff is very friendly and laid back, although they did bust us trying to tote a cooler along in our powered cart ($18). Although we feared dehydration we overcame the absence of our cooler by figuring it would help us work on the mental aspect of the game.

The clubhouse at Hidden Greens is simple and well-air conditioned. On weekdays, the TVs show soap operas in progress. The men’s bathroom is clean and has a funny old photo of men putting in a dingy alleyway in their boxer shorts while waiting for their pants to be tailored. Above the urinals is a sign that reads, "We aim to keep this restroom clean, your aim is appreciated." Below, one wisecracker penciled in, "I have a really bad slice."

At the end of our game, we found a shaded tree near the parking lot and since we had a full cooler in the car, three of us reflected upon our just-completed five hour round with a cold beverage (one of our party wanted more and went back out for nine additional holes). We noticed Hidden Greens also has a west-facing driving range and a putting green next to the clubhouse, neither of which we took advantage of prior to our tee time.

The final numbers read: 45 minute drive (from Minneapolis), 97 degrees (30 sunblock), 47-42—89 (two-man scramble), 12 lost balls (scuffed up ones), 16 found balls (nice new ones), and not a disappointed customer among us.

Hidden Greens Golf Course
12977 - 200th St. SE
Hastings, MN 55033
(612) 437-3085

Green Fees: $18.00 on weekends
Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Opened: Front nine, 1976; Back nine, 1985
Par: 72
Distance: 5954 yds. (back tees)
Rating: 68.8
Slope: 118