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Bent Creek Golf Club

I love golf. There’s nothing greater than discovering the archeological remains of some lost civilization buried deep within a sand trap. What a thrill it is, wondering whether your drive is going to slice or hook to land your ball even farther away from the putting green than the tee box itself. Watching as the water hazard visibly rises for all the balls you’ve sunk into it creates a true sense of accomplishment. And as you miss your third putt in a row, you get the satisfaction of inventing curse words that even industrial strength detergent couldn’t wash out of your mouth.

For the pure joy that is the sport of golf, Eden Prairie has Bent Creek Golf Club, complete with an eighteen-hole course, driving range, pro shop, and restaurant and bar for much needed vittles and restoratives after a long day of burrowing divots. 

While working as an accountant at 3M, Don Herfort was always prepared to share his strong opinions about golf course design with anyone who would receive them. Few people are more concerned about golf courses than corporate executives, so 3M’s leadership decided to put Herfort in charge of designing their new employee golf course. Herfort proved himself as capable as he was opinionated, and proceeded to become one of the Midwest’s preeminent golf course architects.

Herfort laid out Bent Creek’s golf course in the early 1970s. While it has received dramatic improvements over the nearly five decades since its grand opening, the course still serves as a fine example of Herfort’s mastery of his craft. Spanning over 6,500 yards from the blue tees, the course treats players to a varied experience of rolling fairways and undulating greens. Holes 1 and 16 would put even John Daly’s legendary drive to the test at 520 yards each, while the 145 yards separating tee and cup at hole 2 give you your best shot at the great hole in one.

And it’s a beautiful course. Many 100 year oak trees remain from when Bent Creek used to be farmland. Maples, ashes, and evergreens give quarter to birds that serenade players with their raucous squawking. Purgatory Creek itself weaves in and out of the course between holes 13 and 18. Just one glimpse of Bent Creek’s rich flower beds is enough to calm even the most riled up duffer.

Sensitive readers may have inferred from this article that I am not very good at golf. This is correct. Many courses make me wear a bell around my neck when I play at them. But this is only because I haven’t yet handed my game over to the qualified coaches of Bent Creek. PGA certified one and all, Bent Creek’s coaches help students as young as four years old in their Little Chippers Program. Adults who wish to work a few bugs out of their game, as well as those who wouldn’t know a sand wedge from a sandwich, benefit just as greatly from such expert guidance.

Speaking of sandwiches, you couldn’t ask for a better place to eat them in than Bent Creek’s restaurant. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, they serve everything from behemoth half-pound burgers to lighter fare such as salads. A social game like golf calls for appetizers after the score is tallied, but it also calls for drinks. The wall behind Bent Creek’s bar is a shrine to the things that come in brown or clear bottles. Sophisticates have an extensive wine list to explore, as do beer drinkers have six taps.

“Our members call us ‘The HOG,’” said Michele Russell, general manager of Bent Creek Golf Club. “That stands for ‘The Home of Golf.’ 

“We definitely have a family vibe around here – a casual, fun atmosphere, not like a stuffy country club. People come to Bent Creek to mix and mingle, and maybe meet someone new to play a friendly game with. We have members ranging from octogenarians to those in their 20s. The only thing that binds them all together is their shared love for the greatest game on earth.

“Before I came to Bent Creek, I worked as a paralegal in a rigid office structure alongside stuffy lawyers. (Please point out to your readers that the lawyers who have joined Bent Creek are all lovely people.) I could never return to that kind of environment. I love knowing our members on a personal level and watching their kids grow up, sometimes even getting married here. And then one day their grandchildren come in to learn how to play!

“We have such a great staff here as well. Our PGA Head Golf Professional Mark Kodet organizes all of our club tournaments and men’s and women’s leagues, setting a welcoming tone no matter what he does. Our course superintendent Tom Notch is an absolute wiz with our design elements, constantly looking for ways to improve our bunkers, greens, and everything else all the way down to our tee boxes.

“Becoming a member at Bent Creek is much simpler than at a more formal country club. You don’t need a sponsor, and you don’t have to interview with a committee. After you’ve tried out the course, just fill out an application. You can be out on the fairway again in just 20 minutes!”

Here is the only golf tip that I am qualified to give you: To learn more about Eden Prairie’s finest golf course, visit bentcreekgolfclub.com.

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