Les is More

by Kevin Turnquist

The University of Minnesota Les Bolstad Golf Course is a lovely, old fashioned club located close to the geographic center of the metro area. Known for its tight fairways lined by towering oaks and maples, "The U" is the kind of course that can give your average golfer fits. Stray just a few yards off the fairway and you’re typically left with a knockdown shot to play under the omnipresent hardwoods (22 of which had to be cut down this year due to disease). The rough is long and treacherous. Greens are relatively fast and are hard to hold if you’re not approaching from the fairway.

The number two handicap fourth, a 355-yard par 4, deserves special mention. It’s an uphill fairway leading to a domed green, with a bunker on the left and an overhanging tree guarding it on the right. This hole was no doubt constructed before the advent of modern grass cutters. Putting on this green today is a nightmare, as putts that miss the hole going only at a snail’s pace frequently end up off the green, 30 yards back into the fairway. A good suggestion would be to bulldoze it back to flat and replant the grass.

Helmets optional
While "the U" is open to the public, it is definitely not for everybody. This must rank among the most dangerous courses in Minnesota if not the world. During our two recent rounds we were constantly bombarded by errant shots. One of our foursome took a one-hop drive in the leg. We lost a windshield in one of our cars (don’t park by the 18th green). There were at least a half-dozen other near misses, including a stray fairway wood that came screaming head high through the fourth green as we were preparing to putt. To make matters worse,you’re sent out to negotiate all this without the benefit of access to alcoholic beverages. This is a "dry course"--perhaps in hopes of keeping the college students away from the temptations of drink.

The course is in pretty good shape overall. There is still a bit of winterkill evident on some fairways and greens but otherwise the turf is well tended. Bunkers seem to have a higher ratio of dirt to sand than other courses we’ve played. After a rain they can bake pretty hard. The entire course is moderately hilly, especially given the fact that carts are not available to the general public (a few are reserved for golfers with special needs). If you only play "the U" once it would be best to go in the fall when the leaves are in full color, but it’s always a scenic course.

Weekend tee times can be reserved after noon on Mondays. Students and faculty are allowed to call at 7am (with a credit card-backed reservation number) so a lot of prime times are gone by the time the general public can reserve. Shirts are required. A par three course and one of the finest driving ranges in the state are adjacent.

Among the classics
The U of M Les Bolstad course is a classic course with a rich tradition. Golfers accustomed to swilling a few beers while driving their cart hard after booming slices may feel like they’ve entered a time warp. Serious golfers who have all the shots in their bag will really enjoy this course, as will the hacker who enjoys picturesque views and the unmistakeable sound of ball on tree, although course officials don’t recommend the course for beginners. Recommended.

University of Minnesota Les Bolstad Golf Course
2275 Larpenteur Ave.
St. Paul, MN
Course: 627-4000
Driving range/learning center: 627-4002
Green fee: Public: $18 weekday, $21 weekend. Various discounts for students, faculty, staff, retired faculty, alumni (with alumni cards), ranging from $10 (students during the week) to $19 (alumni on weekends).
Drive from TC: Practically the center of the Twin Cities
Difficulty: Moderatly difficult to difficult
Par: 71





Rating 69.2 75.2 72.7
Slope 117 132 127