A slice of Ham

A slice of Ham
One of the finest Twin Cities public courses is in a town called Ham Lake. Honest.

by Kevin Turnquist

We have news for that segment of the Twin Cities golfing public that believes the civilized world ends somewhere around Highway 694. There are some excellent golf courses in the northern suburbs. If you read no further in this review, remember this: One of the finest Twin Cities public courses is in a town called Ham Lake. Honest.

Majestic Oaks consists of three courses. The best is the Platinum course.

This is a big,demanding track with par fours averaging over 385 yards and par fives over 510.

Distances are only a small part of the Platinum’s challenge though. The course is very well designed. Large,steep-lipped bunkers abound and every one seems to be strategically located. While nearly all of the greens afford a "ladies entrance" for the unadventurous few who play up the center of fairways, approach from any other angle and you’re almost guaranteed a shot that requires carrying a trap. The par 5s invariably invite an attempt to reach in two, but severely test your shot with bunkers nearly surrounding the greens. Water can be a factor on about half of the holes. Greens are (to use a favorite term from the personals) plus-sized. No gimmicky humps or outrageous terraces but lots of long, gentle slopes that truly test your putting skill.

As the name would imply, Majestic Oaks does have trees. We even thought that some might be oak trees. This isn’t a wooded course in the style of the northern Minnesota resort courses or the U of M though. The tall trees, like the traps, are there for a purpose. We often found ourselves hitting approach shots over trees but didn’t have to spend any time searching through thickets for lost balls.

Great grass
Course maintenance is taken very seriously at the Platinum Course. On-site nurseries provide a steady supply of replacement turf and it shows. Damaged grass is replaced by sod rather than seed, even on the greens. Bare spots are almost nonexistant. Even the flowering shrubs are home grown. There were very few negative comments voiced during our recent round. The traps take some adjusting to. More dirt than sand but all nicely raked. The result was a deceptive surface with about a half inch of fluff on top of harder soil below. Much harder to blast out of than one would guess. At least that was the excuse we kept falling back on.

We complained about the absense of distance markers on the sprinkler heads but we always do that when they’re left unmarked; "How long would it take two guys with a tape measure and a bottle of nail polish to mark these suckers?" is a constant refrain when we misclub.

The Gold Course, aka "the not quite as Majestic Oaks," is a decent course in it’s own right. We’ve played it a few times in the past as it’s easier to get tee times on the Gold. It wasn’t up to the standards of the Platinum last year but, like it’s partner, is thoughtfully laid out. Word is that The Gold is maturing nicely so we hope to be back to check it out in the future.

Welcome to the 19th hole
Majestic Oaks has one of the finest 19th holes of public courses in the Metropolitan area. The bars, restaurant, and conference rooms are busy year round. Granted that Ham Lake doesn’t offer up a lot of competition in these domains but most of the business results from the quality of the facilities. While our round took only four hours and 15 minutes we stayed quite a bit longer to enjoy the lounge .

Ham Lake, for the uninitiated, is roughly 35 minutes from either downtown. Take Highway 65 north to Bunker Lake Boulevard, then travel west about one mile to the course. Facilities also include a nine hole executive course and a driving range. Tee times can be made seven days in advance with a patrons card, four days in advance for the general public. The Platinum Course at Majestic Oaks is well worth the trip. Highly Recommended

Read the 1997 Update,Tarnished Platinum

Majestic Oaks Platinum Golf Course
701 Bunker Lake Blvd.
Ham Lake, MN
Green fee: Weekday: $20; Weekend: $25.
Drive from TC: Approx. 35 minutes from either downtown.
Difficulty: Moderatly difficult to difficult

Champ Reg Front
Rating 71.2 68.8 68.4
Slope 123 118 120