Thursday, June 15, 2006

Biwabik Golf: The Quarry at Giant's Ridge
It wasn't a quarry, I'm told. This splendid course just outside the little Iron Range town of Biwabik originated as a gravel pit that was shuttered in the early 1960s. Of course, I suppose gravel could be considered boulders that had nervous breakdowns. After all, gravel has to start somewhere.
There are two courses here. In addition to The Quarry, there is The Legend. They get superb ratings from golfers and golf writers alike; and I'm no different.
Oh, it had its down side: the course was bent grass, and after a week or so of rain, it was very soft. Divots were the size of muskrat skins (after all, this was the North woods), and it was impossible to get backspin.
I visited with a friend from the Twin Cities, Jim W. He had been one of a trio of us that had visited Branson a couple of years ago, and had since retired. He leads an idyllic life: lives in the town of Hoyt Lakes, Minn., where he grew up, next to a beautiful lake. He hunts and fishes, traps and most of all, plays golf. In the winters, he heads down to Texas and plays (when he's not picking grapefruit off his trees).
Jim's a bear of a man, down from 300 pounds to about 270. When he connects, the ball takes off. We were paired that day with two Canadian women, a golf writer and a photographer. We played from the blues, while they played from the reds. Big difference.
Even when we hit well (which I can do on occasion, with the Big Bertha 454 Bob Koczor of Golf Today Magazine gave me), the ladies outdrove us anywhere from 20 to 40 or more yards. We couldn't buy a putt, however, in the scramble format, so ended up with our foursome right at par: the winners were 13 under!
There were many pleasing vistas at Giant's Ridge, and the course is beautiful. I'm told, however, that the lodge lacks insulation: you could hear the people in the next room talking, at the very least. If you're in the North country, however, and want to take a turn at a nice course, Giant's Ridge might be a good choice.