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#4 - Top 10 Public Courses in Minnesota

By Mason Savage, A Good Walk Spoiled Contributor

For those of you who missed it, 7 weeks ago, we at A Good Walk Spoiled released "The Completely Unbiased 100% Scientific Golf Course Ranking System." The point of the system is to create a ranking system that was geared to the Everyday Golf. If you missed that post, please check it out in the link below so that you can understand how these rankings work and what each category represents in the system.

Before we dig into the Review/Ranking, these are the Top 10 Public Courses in Minnesota so a couple of notes. 1. As the title states, these are Public Courses, there are no Private Courses on this list so please do not ask why courses like Interlachen are not on this list. 2. These are courses that we at A Good Walk Spoiled have played. If there is a good public course that is not on this list, that means we do not think it is in the top 10 or we have not played it. 3. Most important note, this is the Top 10 so all of these courses are GREAT and we would recommend any of them to out of town travelers. That said, we are critical when it comes to analyzing Golf Courses so any negative comments or points of critique in these Blog Posts come from a place of Love and wanting the courses to better themselves.

#4 - The Quarry at Giant’s Ridge - Biwabik, MN

The large scale and drastic land movement in the great forests of Northern Minnesota make The Quarry at Giant's Ridge a top course in Minnesota

The Quarry at Giants Ridge is often the number one Public Course in Minnesota when the topic is brought up. It is certainly worthy of the title. There aren’t many big boy golf courses like it in the state. Up in the Iron Range, this course uses the land of an old Quarry which creates dynamic landscapes and extremely memorable golf holes. While this course is number 4 on our list, we do acknowledge that removing certain criteria in our ranking system, it would be higher. So we hope in this review to rave and applaud The Quarry’s accomplishments and accolades while at the same time, pointing out some flaws and why it isn't ranked as high on this Public Golf Course Ranking.

Culture - 7

The culture at The Quarry is both an easy and difficult thing to wrap your arms around. On one hand, due to the national titles/recognition of being the Best Public Golf Course in Minnesota, this course draws lots of big time golfers. Some of which are not sufficient enough players or are more into the social aspects of golf which can be unwelcoming and dampening for the overall mood. Additionally, this culture is reinforced by the mandatory cart situation that is required at the club (The course is unwalkable).

On the other hand, this is a modest course that does not try to spice up its product, they know that they have a great golf course and they do not want anything to distract you from that. This is evident in the modest club house that is fantastic/quality but does not have a ton of bells and whistles and the tattered parking lot that is in need of repaving. This is awesome because Giant’s Ridge (the resort that The Quarry is attached to) knows they have a good product and they just take care of the product (golf course) instead of investing in the accessories (clubhouse, parking lot, locker room, etc).

In the end, we call it a wash and have the culture balance itself out to an average score. It is a product of its own success.

Place - 9

The Place at Giant’s Ridge is one of the best in the state. Located on an old quarry mine and in the great forest of the Minnesota Iron Range, this agolf course truly feels it is one with the land in its surroundings. The towering pine trees, great Minnesota wilderness, the oscillating terrain from the old quarry on which the course rests on and the wild life you may encounter all add to the sense of Place. This golf course feels like it is uniquely in northern Minnesota!

The green complexes at The Quarry are some of the best in the state

Quality - 8

If you are going to be lauded as the best Public Golf Course in Minnesota by national publications, you have to have the maintenance staff to back it up and The Quarry is no exception. Perfect greens, groomed tee boxes and pristine native areas are among the many highlights and great features that the Maintenance team at The Quarry is responsible for. Cheers to the super and his staff for keeping this place in great condition with the number of rounds that they see.

Price - 4

The Price at The Quarry is relatively high compared to the other courses on our Top 10 List. This is to be expected as this is one of the highest profile courses in the state and part of a resort. The fact that a cart is mandatory here also does not help as that factors into how the property needs to price its rounds. This is the reason why this course is not rated as the top course on our list. The individual golf course is incredible but the Price will always hold it back.

Architecture - 9

The architecture at The Quarry is unbelievable! The dynamic and rugged land that remains from when the property was a Quarry is so natural and the elevation changes are used very well. In addition to that, the green complexes are the best in the State. Fun interior contours and slopes around the green make for incredible golf shots that require a variety of skills. Instead of going on and on about the architecture, why not show you how good it is with a YouTube video we made last year. In this video we highlight two awesome holes out there in detail.

With all of this praise, we need to address why this property is not a perfect 10. For full transparency, the first 16 holes are a perfect 10 on an individual basis. We docked 0.5 points because of the long distance from Green to Tee (carts are mandatory) and we docked 0.5 points for the last 2 holes. The last two holes feel completely removed from the initial 16 and that is because in addition to concept, they are also physically removed from the other 16 holes. The First 16 holes take place where the old quarry used to be and the the remaining two holes are across a road. We do not have any information as to why but our best guess is that Giants Ridge when building this course wanted a picture perfect scenic 18 hole, and they got it. The 18th hole is a Dogleg left back to the clubhouse with the old reservoir in sight the entire. While the scenary is pretty it makes for a very underwhelming finishing stretch in an otherwise amazing stretch of golf holes.

This is the road that divides the course. On the right side of the road you can see Hole 1 and on the left you can see 17 (the Par 3) and 18 (the Par 4 back towards the camera) - This road creates a very disconnected final two holes at an otherwise AMAZING line up

Value - 8

The value at The Quarry as you would expect is fantastic. While that price and long drive to Northern Minnesota can be a little taxing, the whole experience more than makes up for it. A world class golf course, beautiful Minnesota naturescapes and an amazing culture that works for the golf course, you will not be disappointed with the value you are going to get out of The Quarry at Giants Ridge.

Overall - 45

In a world where price is not a factor, The Quarry at Giants Ridge might be the best golf course in the State of Minnesota. The entire experience from beginning to end is near perfect. The low-end clubhouse gives you everything you need, nothing you don’t and does not detract from the amazing golf course that it serves. A course that is littered with greatness everywhere you turn.

The world class course design and routing is one of the best in the state providing a proper challenge for the top players but still being playable for the general public. There are few golf courses in Minnesota where you can be submersed in natural beauty like what The Quarry at Giant's Ridge offers. As was stated earlier, if price were not a factor, this most likely would be at the top of our Public Golf Course rankings. This course lives up to the hype and everyone who has the opportunity to play it should.

Look at all of the land movement. You can see the bones of the old Quarry

Thank you for reading the third post in our Top 10 Public Golf Courses in Minnesota. To stay up to date as we continue posting the list, be sure to Subscribe here so you are notified when our next course goes live (as well as other AGWS content). If you enjoyed the course rankings, please consider checking out our other mediums. Over on Instagram, we post great photos of golf courses, post engaging instagram stories and post Short Form video content. On our YouTube page, we have many videos that highlight certain golf courses.

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