Keller Golf Course, Maplewood, MN
This is a classic course, just off Bob Dylan's Highway 61. It was a favorite of the gangsters of the 1930s who stayed at resorts outside the gangster haven of St. Paul, including such dark luminaries as John Dillinger (who it's said once hopped a freight on the old third hole to escape federal agents) and Ma Barker and her boys.
I talked with one of the old caddies years ago, and he recalled the high-rollers settling their bets in the men's locker room, with thousands of dollars changing hands. He said that the gangsters were always friendly, and good tippers.
Sam Snead won here, early in his career, as did Patty Berg. Jimmy Demaret and Raymond Floyd were winners. The St. Paul Open was held a year after the course opened in 1929, and continued until 1968. The PGA Championship was played here in 1932, again in 1954. The ladies came to town for the Patty Berg Classic in the 70’s, too.
Everything has changed over the years. John Dillinger was betrayed by the Lady in Red, while Ma Barker was apparently demonized by the FBI, perhaps to justify the killing of an old lady when they tried to arrest her son Fred in Florida in 1935.
Number 12 at Keller (Dillinger's old number three) is a 475 yard par 5. You leave the antique clubhouse and go down a path to the tee box. Your tee shot, unless you're a big boomer, will leave you with a second uphill shot. At the top of the hill, you're faced with a steep downhill shot to a green protected by a water hazard on the left, sand trap and trees to the right.
The course is in splendid shape. The fairways are lush and green even in 2006, a drought year. The greens are fast and tricky. You should really try to stay under the hole, because if you're above, you'll need cement to stay anywhere near it on a downward putt.
When you're finished, plan to spend some time wandering through the clubhouse to enjoy all the memorabilia. This course is highly recommended for anyone who visits the Twin Cities.