Grand Opening of the Quarry at Giants Ridge - Part 15

By: Jeffrey D. Brauer


The grand opening of any course is always exciting. The Quarry at Giants Ridge was an exception only in that they really know how to run such an event. The turnout and media coverage was fantastic, in part because Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty agreed to attend and play golf.

The Quarry has caused quite a stir since its announcement a few years ago, which intensified near opening. Many pundits declared the opening of the Quarry to be the biggest golf news of the year in Minnesota! The festivities matched the anticipation, with a practice round Sunday for media on the first course and a banquet Sunday night featuring speeches by the IRRRA commissioner, Minnesota radio personalities and the governor.

Surprisingly, the last speech was by me! I was surprised and honored to be the last speaker, but they assured me that many people were interested - as were readers on Cybergolf.com - just how the course came to be the way it was. I gave them a brief outline of the highlights, and referred them to this site for further information.

The big event was Monday, when the Quarry hosted a scramble. It was an honor for Governor Pawlenty to select me to play in his group. (He joked that they had to import Republicans from Texas as friendly playing partners in this heavily Democratic area) and he graciously agreed to let me hit the first shot, even though he could have rightly taken the honor. Luckily, I striped it!

Scramble events are perfect for grand openings like this one, since players play the course as designed, at least if one golfer in each group can hit the fairways and greens. Occasional misses also replicate the "better-player" experience, and allow the golfers to try out the bunkers and chipping areas.

My biggest surprise in playing this 7,200-yard course is how much finesse is required. It's not just a power course as its yardage would indicate. You can gain great advantage on both tee and approach shots by "playing the contours" with your shot. On the 18th green, for example, I was able to give my partners "insider's advantage" by advising them to play well left of the green, where a "kick-in bank" directs such shots right to the pin, without flirting with the water hazard.

As a state-owned course, Giants Ridge wanted to feature native-made products, and giveaways included locally produced blue vodka. On course, a local vendor provided coiled bratwurst, hawking it as more practical than the long kind, since you don't need to buy two kinds of buns. While tasty, my initial reaction was that it resembled a pile of dog dirt too closely for comfort! Asked his opinion, the governor, ever the politician, noted that it was "one of the most interesting food presentations" he could recall.

As a state-owned course, Giants Ridge wanted to feature native-made products, and giveaways included locally produced blue vodka. On course, a local vendor provided coiled bratwurst, hawking it as more practical than the long kind, since you don't need to buy two kinds of buns. While tasty, my initial reaction was that it resembled a pile of dog dirt too closely for comfort! Asked his opinion, the governor, ever the politician, noted that it was "one of the most interesting food presentations" he could recall.

Of course, while the grand opening marks the beginning of the course's career, it also marks the end - or at least a great diminishment - of the architect's relationship with the client and the course. For me, it's been a great relationship, and it has produced a successful product for the owner. It could only be greater, if, dare I say it, they decide to build a Giants Ridge III - and I get a chance to show that sequels can continue to be greater than the originals.


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