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The Most Fun Golf Course I Have Ever Played - White Bear Yacht Club

By: Mason Savage, A Good Walk Spoiled Contributor

(The Below Article was included in the the A Good Walk Spoiled Newsletter back in June. If you enjoy this article, consider subscribing to the Monthly Newsletter for the Course of Month, Stories and more.)

To anyone that is new this month to the Newsletter, A Good Walk Spoiled released "The Completely Unbiased 100% Scientific Golf Course Ranking System." 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 because this is the system we use in our Course of the Month segment.

Now, in the monthly A Good Walk Spoiled Newsletter, we are using this same ranking system to review courses from all across the world in our Course of the Month Segment. Enjoy the first Private Course we have reviewed with this ranking.

White Bear Yacht Club - White Bear Lake, MN

White Bear Yacht Club is one of the most iconic courses in not only the state of Minnesota but the country. This display of prime Golden Age Architecture and natural topography culminates to make a course with some of the most unique holes in all of golf that are characterized by large swaths of land movement and interesting green complexes. In this review, we look beyond just the golf course and see why the totality of the experience at this course is so magical and so desirable to the “golf sickos” that long to play it.

Culture - 9

For a private club, White Bear Yacht Club is one of the best when it comes to feeling welcomed. Sure it can be difficult to even get your foot in the door but once you do, you feel like you belong and that you are no different than one of the members.

The historical importance of the club also permeates the culture of the club. The Clubhouse and Pro Shop amenities are physical evidence of this and reside in two separate buildings divided by Dellwood Avenue. The beautiful and stunning Clubhouse resides along the lake and features a beautiful event room and restaurant that just screams “old school summer supper club” that is an awesome and fantastic setting. Add to that the other amenities such as a pool, tennis and of course, Sailing (it is a yacht club after all) and the clubhouse is a real Swiss Army Knife of a building. Across the road, the historical Proshop/Clubhouse sits perched up on a hill (a sneak peek of the course to come) looking down on the lake to the south. The novelty and charm of this building is not lost on me (or anyone for that matter) that has the privilege to enter it. The great sunroom and patio overlooking the 18th green, the old school locker room and the proximity of the building to the first tee are all characteristics of great old golf pro shops. You feel like you have been transported back in time by any opportunity you have to be inside.

Place - 10

The place of White Bear Yacht Club is defined and yet not what you think it is. With a name like White Bear Yacht Club, you would think that there would be plenty of holes on the Lake that provide for scenic golf holes. However, quite the opposite is true. Not only are there no golf holes on the lake, you can only see the lake on about 2-3 holes. So how is the “Place” of this course so high with hardly any views or access to the lake?

One of the ways this course generates a sense of place is the topography of which it sits on. As we will get into more in the architecture section of this review, the land at which White Bear Yacht Club sits on is dramatic and integral to the identity of the golf course.

In addition to that, it is one of the most historic clubs in the state of Minnesota. Opened in 1897, this club has history and importance in the development of the game of golf in Minnesota and it is impossible to not feel that importance when you are playing the course or roaming around the amenities of the club. Part of that is the unique golf course design, the charming infrastructure and the historical photos in the club house hihglihgting the clubs long and proud history.

Of course, we would be remiss if we did not mention the logo in this portion of the review. A good logo (outside of even just golf) ties together the entire experience you feel when interacting with a brand. We may be biased here but the White Bear Yacht Club logo is one of the best logo’s in all of Golf Course logos. Why are we biased? You may or may not look at the logo and see where A Good Walk Spoiled got its inspiration for its logo. No shame, the logo is perfect!

In review, it is impossible to not feel like you are playing an important golf course when playing White Bear Yacht Club so it receives a perfect 10 for the place score.

Quality - 10

The quality of a Top 100 course in the country better be special and White Bear Yacht is no different. Fantastic conditions and great greens. This is especially fantastic when you consider the severity of slope and tilt that is littered throughout the entire property. If you want to know more about the Superintendent at White Bear Yacht Club, he used to be the Super at Ballyneal and The Fried Egg did a great video series on Ballyneal and Sand Hills where they highlight him for a section of it. Check out The Fried Egg YouTube channel for more information.

Price - 6

The price is a weird section to rank in terms of a private course. Obviously (unless you are a member) you do not pay monthly dues so you pay the Guest Fee. That is the number that we will be using for the Price Section of the Private Club reviews. That said, feel free to neglect this section when it comes to private clubs. It can be misleading because while the greens fees might be a little more expensive, there is value in the fact that you are not able to play it everyday as it is private. - If anyone has an idea of what we should do for the Price section of private club reviews, please email us at Looking at the Guest Green Fee, White Bear Yacht Club receives a 6.

Architecture - 10

Wow! What a joy it is to write about the design and golf course architecture at White Bear Yacht Club. The design of White bear Yacht Club is historic and it lends itself to the most fun golf course I have ever played. I think that is an important distinction, WBYC is the most fun golf course I have ever played but that does not mean it is the best course I have ever played (although it is extremely close and definitely up for discussion). What makes this course fun can be attributed to the design and how it interacts with the aforementioned topography of the natural landscape.

First of all, the topography of White Bear Yacht Club is dramatic and dynamic. Large hills, careening slopes and drastic fall offs are all characteristics of this Golden Age design. With the land moving at this magnitude, it is almost impossible to lay out a bad course. One large land feature that stands out is the 5(or 6th) hole where the entire fairway is one large slope that rejects balls down and to the right. In addition to this, the slope acts as a “blindfold” to the green requiring a proper tee shot to avoid this visual deterrent. This is just one example of the fantastic land movement impacting play.

The other thing that makes White bear Yacht Club a special place is the architectural design. In an attempt to avoid the controversial architecture debate, I will avoid stating who designed White Bear Yacht Club and just talk about the tangible design that lay on the land today. Contrary to the name of the course, the course is not actually on White Bear Lake. Aside from the glimpse you get of the lake on a couple holes, you truly do not see the lake from the course. Instead this routing has two 9s that each traverses unique land running away from the clubhouse and ultimately turning back home. There are some odd and forgettable holes out there such as 17 and 18 but the rest of the holes are all unique and leave you wanting to play them over and over again.

One unique portion of the property is the south east corner which features the Par 3 third hole and the Par 5 4th hole. From the 3rd tee box you are faced with this grand view. Perched up on a mound in front of you is the green of this short par 3. Part of the green is blocked out by proceeding mounds in front of the green. Below the green dives the land into a little ravine that spans the rest of your line of sight. In the distance you see a long, large bridge that spans the ravine which will bring you from the 4th tee to the 4th fairway the next hole. This view, from the 3rd tee box, shows great design in taking advantage of the large natural ravine as it comes into play on both the 3rd and 4th hole.

Not apart of the original design but White Bear Yacht is broken up by a large county road in the middle of the property. While hitting tee shots with traffic flowing no more than 20 feet in front of you is novel, it does also create a barrier between two different yet exciting pieces of the property. On the south side of Country Road 96, you have some very rolling terrain that feels a bit artificial for how exaggerated it is and yet, it is totally natural. The north side of County Road still has rolling terrian but it is a little more muted. A large portion of this piece of the ground is characterized by the massive ridge that the road sits upon and descents into a large flat low land area. These two areas, while distinct, still have similar properties that create a cohesive and comprehensive routing that is the most fun golf course I have ever played.

Let me restate that, White Bear Yacht Club is the most fun golf course I have ever played and a lot of that is due to the great architectural work and the land that it occupies.

Value - 10

The value of Ravisloe Country Club is some of the best value in golf. Often, Donald Ross designs are private golf courses so they are difficult for people who are not members to play them. For this reason alone, the Value of just being able to play Ravisloe Country Club is through the roof. However, add to that a wildly affordable greens fee and we have what we think is one of the best values that Public Golf has to offer! - Perfect 10/10. No notes.

Overall - 55

Overall, White bear Yacht Club is, as advertised, a course worthy of its Top 100 Ranking in the United States. The clubs historic accolades coupled with its conditioning, culture and world class design all combine for an experience that is hard to obtain anywhere in the country. If you ever get the invite or the opportunity to play this Golden Age design, it is worth prioritizing your life to make it work.


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