7 of Southern Minnesota’s best golf holes

Published 9:33 am Thursday, August 23, 2012

Willingers Golf Club
Hole 1  |   Par 4   |   374 yards   |   Built in 1992

Many golf courses start off with a confidence builder. Not Willingers. Golfers tee off at Hole 1 with a par-4 over water.

“It’s starts off challenging. You have be warmed up before you start to play,” said Albert Lea lawyer Bob Sturtz. “It requires an exacting tee shot.”

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Willingers is nine miles west of Northfield and features manicured greens and fareways among several ponds, reeds and cattails.

The first shot plays 180 yards over a pond. Slice and you are in the pond. Hook and you might be safe on grass or in a second pond. Just barely make it over the water, and you still don’t have a look at the green because of a stand of trees on the right. Players who can power hit might actually go too far and end up in the woods lining left side of the fairway, which has a dog leg to the right

“Most players whacking it to get over the water still end up in the trees or slice it into the water,” Sturtz said. “A pro would hit over the water and try to bend it right at the end.”

He said he drives as straight as he can over the water and hopefully with enough distance to give him a look at the elevated green. Then the fairway is all uphill from there.

The green, too, has a slight uphill incline, which makes it inviting — except golfers have to watch out for three sand traps, one on the left and two on the right. The green rewards golfers who approach in the middle.

Sturtz uses a 9 iron for the approach with a lot of air under it, so it drops down at or near the green.

— Tim Engstrom

About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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