“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. ”
Northland Country Club
IT'S TOO COLD UP HERE to be a hotbed of golf. But Northland Country Club, on the western shore of Lake Superior, 150 miles above Minneapolis-St. Paul, is a gateway to the fabulous recreation area of the state's Boundary Waters region. Outdoor sports abound-not just hunting, fishing and boating, but also golf, at least during the five-month respite from winter.
Donald Ross came here in the 1920s, when Duluth was among the country's most prosperous communities, thanks to mining, lumber, railroads and shipping. His design of Northland Country Club evokes the spirit and sensibility of classic linksland golf, though on ground that's rocky, not sandy. The bluff just east of downtown on which this private club sits overlooks Lake Superior and the Wisconsin shoreline and provides visual drama that's rare for classic-era courses.
The par-72 layout, 6,825 yards (73.1 rating/133 slope) ambles up through 200 feet of elevation change to form an "out and back" country walk that's unencumbered by housing or development. Superintendent Chris Tritabaugh's commitment to firm, fast conditions is complemented by a dazzling array of native fescue roughs. Every green is a puzzle to decode, with the interpretation of slope made all the more confounding because of the underlying topography and scale of the place.
The course starts modestly, then picks up steam. By the time you've played your way to the 18th fairway and an approach shot that aims at Northland's Palladian-style clubhouse, you'll understand why this northern gem ranks No. 84 on Golfweek's best classic courses list.
Northland Country Club is at 3901 E. Superior St. in Duluth, Minn.
For information, call (218) 525-1941 or visit www.northlandcountryclub.com.
DULUTH INTERNATIONAL (KDLH)
This facility, 10 miles west of the golf course, has a 10,162-foot runway.
FBO: Monaco Air Duluth, (218) 727-2911.