Big times at Minnesota's Giants Ridge Golf Resort
Biwabik, Minnesota isn’t likely to be on anybody’s Top 10,000 golf destinations. (Let’s get the pronunciation down first: “Bi,” like a baby’s bib, but without the final ‘b. “Wa” like a baby’s cry, and “Bik” like the namesake pen. Now say it out loud slowly, with the emphasis on the second syllable: “Bi-Wa-Bik.")
But up in the state’s northeast corner, in the infamous Iron Range, not too far from Hibbing (boyhood home of Bob Dylan and Celtics Hall-of-Famer Kevin McHale) and within striking distance of the city of Duluth, lies a couple of fine golf courses at a resort called Giants Ridge, the Legend and the Quarry.
It’s no easy trek from the Twin Cities to Biwabik, nor is it a simple jaunt from the stat’s main golf destination of Brainerd Lakes. But the quality of these two Jeff Brauer designs, and a third, perhaps 30 minutes further north, called the Wilderness at Fortune Bay, make the journey worth the effort.
The Legend at Giants Ridge offers 72 strokes (if you’re good - really good!) that wander up, over and through some spectacular North Country terrain. Bentgrass fairways, cavernous bunkers, sparkling blue lakes, massive boulders and towering hardwoods provide the challenge and the scenery. The scary 17th hole, a 200+ yard par-3 completely over water, is worth the green fee by itself. But The Legend is the undercard in comprison to The Quarry.
Carved up, through, over and around reclaimed minelands, Giants Ridge Resort’s Quarry course is one of the upper Midwest’s most memorable golf experiences. The course’s hallmarks include dramatically raised tees and deep hazards forged from mine lands, wetlands, forests and a former sand quarry. The Quarry honors the region’s industrial past in a unique manner, as each hole is named for area mines, past and current, including the giant Mahoning mines that produced more than 130 million tons of iron, to the Embarrass mine, which today, is a 550-foot deep mine-pit lake, the deepest on the Mesabi Iron Range.
It’s a unique and eminently worthwhile duo: Hard to access, hard to play, hard to forget.
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