A look at the lodge at Pheasant Links. The lodge has a full bar, kitchen, fireplace, banquet room, showers, changing room, and even a pool table. -- Buck Monson/Albert Lea Tribune

Archived Story

Emmons golf course changes owners

Published 9:25am Thursday, November 8, 2012

EMMONS — The golf course in this border community has changed ownership as a result of the change in ownership of the casino five miles to the southeast.

The entrance to the lodge area at Pheasant Links.

Diamond Jo Casino, which was owned by Peninsula Gaming, now is owned by Boyd Gaming. Pheasant Links, which is the former Arrowhead Golf Course, was part of the deal.

So what would happen with the golf course? The new owners toured Pheasant Links and realized that it is a unique experience for Diamond Jo Casino VIPs, said Pheasant Links General Manager Ken Larson.

Diamond Jo Casino visitors are invited to experience Pheasant Links by becoming loyal patrons of the casino. There is a misunderstanding that you have to be a high roller and lose thousands of dollars to get invited to Pheasant Links.

“We encourage people to just use your card when playing at the casino,” Larson said. “Whether you are winning or losing, as long as you are using your card, you have a chance to get invited to visit.”

Larson has been with Pheasant Links since its inception back in 2006 when Diamond Jo purchased the golf course in Emmons. There are nearly 400 acres of land, 100 acres for golfing, and the rest is upland area, wooded area and a wetland area.

“The entire property has been licensed with the DNR as a hunting preserve, and on 100 of the acres we can shoot and release birds all year round,” Larson said.

The golf course has nine holes, and the fairways are surrounded by tallgrass prairie, making it a beautiful place to play golf. Golfers are supplied the clubs, balls, golf carts and beverages when they come to play.

The grass surrounding the fairways doubles as a home for the pheasants on the property. It also attracts other birds to the area.

The hunting portion of Pheasant Links seems to be the popular activity for guests. Guests are supplied with the guns, ammo, golf cart, a guide, a trained hunting dog, lunch and a full bar — and lodging, if necessary, for after the hunt.

A view of the Pheasant Links golf course in Emmons.

On Wednesday nights from June through September, Pheasant Links offers sporting clay shooting league that is open to the public. They allow up to 10 teams with five on a team. This fills up fast and has teams from Iowa and Minnesota participating. Food and beverages are available for purchase afterwards as well.

Pheasant Links has also helped with some local fundraising over the years as well. It has joined up with the Emmons Fire Department to help the firefighters raise money. For the last six years, the course has hosted golf tournaments, where Diamond Jo Casino will match the proceeds taken in.

“Over the last six years, we have helped raise $36,000 for the Emmons Fire Department,” Larson said.

Another nonprofit organization that Pheasant Links is working with is the State Line Lake Restoration Committee. Also helping out with the project is the Minnesota DNR, Ducks Unlimited and Diamond Jo Casino.

“We are going to be restoring State Line Lake,” Larson said. “We are gonna be drawing down the water level, we are going to be putting in a new dam and we are going to get rid of the carp. Then we will restore it with natural waters, coming from snow melting, and spring rains, so it will be clean water going back in.”

With numerous events, they have raised a good chunk of money toward this restoration already.

Larson claims Pheasant Links is the only place in the country that has golf, clay shooting and upland bird hunting all on the same property, and it’s all continuous.

“Boyd Gaming was intrigued by it,” Larson said. “It’s a great thing to build loyalty and customer appreciation by bringing them here. It’s a great amenity for everybody involved.”

Clay shooting station located at Pheasant Links in Emmons, Minnesota.

One of the major changes over the years that Larson has noticed has been the amount of traffic.

“We have a large number of VIPs,” Larson said. “That number seems to grow every year as well.”

Pheasant Links gets really busy in March, where there is hunting almost every day. In April, the clay shooting and golfing begin and continue into fall. Hunting then gets busy again in the fall up until January.

Larson also wanted to mention that with the new ownership, the future of Pheasant Links could possibly include more VIP involvement or even the possibility of some public interaction. Larson couldn’t guarantee anything since he, himself, is awaiting an announcement.