The Lafayette Club: Minnesota Personified
When it comes to Minnesota, there are lots of things that one associates with the state. Loons, the Minnesota Vikings, Midwest/Scandinavian cliches and of course, The Lakes.
By: Mason Savage (A Good Walk Spoiled)
Land of 10,000 Lakes
When it comes to Minnesota, there are lots of things that one associates with the state. Loons, the Minnesota Vikings, Midwest/Scandinavian cliches and of course, The Lakes. We are after all called the ‘Land of 10,000 Lakes’. These lakes are not only impactful on the geography of the state but rather they are integral to the culture of the place I call home.
Weekends at the Cabin
Minnesotans go to the beach, have cabins up north on a lake and fish on them year round. It is not uncommon for the office to be quiet every Friday afternoon as everyone ducks out a little early to take advantage of the long summer days and head to the lake. So with this emphasis on Lakes, it may be surprising to hear that in Minnesota, where golf is very popular, that there are not that many courses that are actually on a lake.
Historically, maybe the most iconic and recognizable course in Minnesota has a lake in its namesake, White Bear Yacht Club. While the course is amazing, take a look at Google Maps and you will see that the course is actually inland. Then there is Minikahda Country Club. This old Donald Ross design used to require a boat ride across Lake Bde Maka Ska to get there. However, look at Google Maps again and you will notice that this beautiful course is also not on the water. You go on down the line and there are hardly any courses that are actually situated on Lakes in Minnesota. If I am charged with sharing a course in Minnesota, I think it should be on a lake, right?
The Lafayette Club - Minnetonka Beach, MN
Enter The Lafayette Club, a historic 9 Hole track located on the shores of Lake Minnetonka. Historically, The Lafayette Club was not a golf course. Rather it was Hotel and a famous hotel at that. Often it was referred to as “the best hotel west of New York City” and how could one argue? The views and the serenity of the lake lent themselves to being part of a world class facility. Unfortunately, the hotel burned down (not once, but twice for that matter) before the current facility was built in 1924. To this day, the original layout of the 9 hole course (and hotel) stands and features views of Lake Minnetonka from every hole.
World Class 9-Holer
Unfortunately, there seems to be a Modern Day stigma towards 9 hole golf courses. In that regard, every aspect of the Lafayette Club goes against the grain of modern expectations of a golf course. However do not let that discrepancy lead you astray as The Lafayette Club is a charming world class facility. There is great variety in the Par 3s whether it be in their unique green complexes or their different distances that require different shot shapes. The Par 4s are also great and one of them is (in my opinion) an auto-include in the ‘Best Hole In Minnesota Conversation’.
The Short Par 4, 2nd Hole
The hole deserving of this notoriety is the short Par 4 second hole. The second hole at The Lafayette Club is only 290 yards long and plays down the western coastline of the property with Lake Minnetonka on the entire left side of the hole. As you look out towards the fairway from the tee you will notice that there is a giant hill just over half way through the hole. Hit the risky driver and be on top of the shelf. Play safe and leave a blind shot into the green at the bottom of the hill. Additionally, the green complex is extremely interesting and creates a fun environment for receiving approach shots. Littered with little bumps, there are multiple opportunities for your ball to kick in any direction. Add to that a large back stop that feeds balls back towards the front of the green and you have a pseudo-punch bowl green that is one of the most replayable holes in all of golf.
The rest of the course is just as awesome as the second hole. Views of the Lake are to be had on every hole as the routing of this 9 hole gem gently rolls across the Lake Minnetonka Shoreline. It is hard to put into words how intimate and fun this course is but one thing that I hope is abundantly clear from all of the pictures in this article, that this course really embodies what Minnesota is all about and what Minnesota is. Our state loves Having fun, taking pride in our history, chasing daylight during the long summer days and of course, spending time on the Lakes. All of these characteristics make The Lafayette Club, Minnesota personified in a golf course.
This course is purely ‘Minnesota’.
Mason Savage helps run a small golf blog in Minnesota called ‘A Good Walk Spoiled’. Whether it be through their photos on Instagram, the written content on their website, or their growing YouTube Channel, they put emphasis on highlighting affordable clubs and hidden gem courses in the North Star State. Their passion and love for the game of golf can be felt through every piece of content that they publish. If you love the article and want to see similar content, check them out.