The Meadows spotlights natural beauty

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PRIOR LAKE, Minn. - The natural beauty of Minnesota, with its wetlands, streams, lakes, foliage and wildlife, sets the background for one of the state's newest and most elaborate golf courses.

The 72-par The Meadows at Mystic Lake Golf Course, owned by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, opened last year. Its features mirror state park hiking trails as golfers maneuver 2,500 feet of creek that runs throughout the course and the 13 holes that boast water features such as ponds and fountains.

''We have a lot of bronze statuary and some of the holes are named after animals, like Moose hole, Bear hole, which is well-named. It's par 5 with the third shot over a waterfall; it's quite intimidating,'' said Greg McKush, director of golf.

''There is something interesting at every hole,'' he said.

The 170-acre course, located southeast of Minneapolis, takes advantage of the area's geography with 11 acres of wildflowers

and 10 different species of trees.

The SMSC business committee established a master plan for economic development to accompany the community's Mystic Lake Casino and Hotel. The multimillion-dollar golf course sits adjacent to the casino.

''We started some of the first steps of the master plan in 2002, with some changes in circulation of traffic. We added parking garages with structured parking, which allowed us to remove some of the surface parking to be used for the golf course,'' said Bill Rudnicki, tribal administrator.

Construction on the Gerritt Gill- and Paul Miller-designed golf course began in 2003.

''It is a beautiful facility and it compliments what we do,'' Rudnicki said in reference to the casino and resort hotel.

''We wanted to be a first-class resort structure,'' he said.

The Meadows is a public course that keeps the greens fee to $85, which includes a golf cart and driving range. The gold cart is equipped with a GPS system to help keep track of the yardage on the 7,000-yard course. The Meadows features five tee boxes.

McKush said the course features a 12-minute tee time, which allows for a more relaxed play and keeps players from getting bogged down too often, thereby providing a more enjoyable game.

''The nice thing about the holes, most have a funnel effect to them. That makes them playable. We also keep the rough at a manageable height and the greens are quite fast,'' McKush said. ''And our greens are large, 7,000 square feet, which is very large. Our greens are also fast, they are very fast - more what tour players will experience on their events. Our players appreciate having that.''

Bentgrass covers all the fairways, greens and tees; and the contour of the course eliminates any flat surfaces, which McKush said, is very appealing.

The course was ranked among the top 10 new courses by Golf Digest magazine in the over $75 category. It was the only American Indian-owned course on the list.

For the avid golfer there are five championship-rated golf facilities within a half-hour drive of The Meadows. One of the states' premier courses that frequently tops the list of the state's best golf courses, The Wilds, is just a chip shot away.

The Meadows caters to groups and individuals and has no plans in the near or distant future to sponsor a tournament. Local golfers have frequented the course and the comments are favorable about the amenities, courtesy and the course itself, McKush said.

''We want them to have a very nice experience,'' he said.

A nice feature of the course is its close proximity to the Mystic Lake Casino and Hotel. The pro shop is accessible through the hotel lobby.

For more information on The Meadows at Mystic Lake, call (952) 233-5533 or visit www.ccsmdc.org/meadows/index.html.