Working Man's Nine

by Arnie Hamel

Who says you can’t get anything these days for less than a buck? No, I’m not Dennis Miller and this is not an ad for long distance service. Our coupon-clipping golf staff has found its own bargain for less than a dollar just 80 miles south of the Twin Cities on Hwy. 169 in friendly Mankato.

From the highway you can see Minneopa Golf Course, a neat little working man’s nine hole par-33 that charges just eight bucks to play during the week (no credit cards accepted, eight singles will do). By our math that’s about 89 cents per hole (eat your heart out, Dennis). This has to put Minneopa in the running for one of the best golf bargains in Minnesota.

Yes, but what are you getting for your 89 cents? Certainly not Giants Ridge, but Minneopa is a neatly maintained track that’s fun to play and score on. The course is made up of six par fours and three par threes totaling 2,485 yards.

The first three holes are relatively straight par fours (367, 352 and 344 yards) with some tree trouble possible. Number four is a legitimate 205-yard par three over a slight ridge and down a gradual slope, and number five is a 215-yard par three that plays uphill from a nice tee off area cut out of a cluster of mature trees. Six is a 261-yard par four you might reach with a terrific drive fading back right to left.

Maybe the nicest hole at Minneopa is the 166-yard par three seventh. With the tee box perched up high, the fairway falls off dramatically into a big valley before sloping back up to a very small green with sand on two sides. Hit it short and you’ll likely watch your ball roll some 30 yards backwards down the hill. Hit it long and you’ll be in the thick stuff facing a delicate pitch back out onto the green.

Holes eight and nine are both par fours, with eight running parallel to Hwy. 169 for 259 yards. Of course the big challenge here is to avoid hitting your driver too pure and sending your tee shot onto the dirt road just beyond the green. The temptation is to try and smack one onto the green and give yourself a rare eagle putt. The ninth hole measures 316 yards and features a huge Elm tree in the middle of the fairway, obstructing an otherwise straight shot at the pin.

Minneopa is not spectacular, but is in very nice shape for a course that charges less than a dollar per hole. It’s a perfect walking course even for the laziest of golfers. Greens were well manicured and consistent, if a bit flat. Fairways were wide, tee boxes adequate. A quaint, older clubhouse with a screened-in porch sits in the shadows of several lush, leafy trees. You can easily play Minneopa in less than 90 minutes and will be tempted to go around a second time. If you do play 18 during the week it’s just $13.50, bringing your cost down to just 75 cents per hole.

Season packages are available to regulars, ranging from $345 for nine holes per day for singles to $675 for unlimited golf for married couples. Ten round punch cards, ala the gourmet coffee shops, are available for just $75.

With so many new courses sprouting up throughout the state and charging $60 to $100 per round, it’s nice to know there are still alternatives to spending well over $100 for a day on the course. It’s nice to know you can still get something for less than a buck.

Minneopa Golf Club
Hwy. 169, Mankato, MN
(507) 625-5777
Rating: Men 31.6; Women 34.2
Slope: Men 104; Women 110