50 Words or Less
The Quarry at Giants Ridge is a must-visit golf course in Minnesota. Unique design, massive green undulations, scenic views, and elevation are just some of the reasons why this course deserves its own trip to play.
Located in Biwabik, Minnesota, Giants Ridge is a property that features two courses: The Legend (review HERE) and The Quarry. The pair, when played together, show an interesting duality. While some refer to the two as the Beauty and the Beast, I like to think of them as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The Legend (Dr. Jekyll), is buttoned up, visually stunning, but a bit straightforward. The Quarry is undoubtedly Mr. Hyde. It’s rugged, challenging, and enigmatic. It features tons of aspects to sink your teeth into and great replay value. Even the idea of the lake, which is really a flooded mine that sprawls up the 18th hole, adds to the mystery.
The Quarry at Giants Ridge features both a putting green and a range to utilize before your round starts. The putting green is large and connects to the first tee. It features several holes to try out any length and break of putt you might encounter during your 18-hole journey. That’ll be important, because as you’ll read, the greens can be extremely tricky.
The driving range is decently sized with enough open bays for a few foursomes. Something else that struck me as I walked around the practice facilities was that they were immaculately maintained. Their grounds were vibrant green, mowed pristinely, and made the whole establishment feel like a private venue.
Customer Service & Amenities
Minnesota not only has great golf, but great people. As a matter of fact, it’s a phenomenon called “Minnesota Nice.” It’s the idea that compared to elsewhere in the U.S., Minnesota residents tend to be unusually kind, caring, helpful, and polite.
I found that to be the case all over the property from the starters to pro shop, to the waitstaff inside the Wacootah Grille. Speaking of, that grille was a great spot to grab some breakfast before your round in the morning and be close to the action on the course. More importantly though, after your round is over, you have to go out to the back of the restaurant to overlook the scenic lake that runs up the 18th hole.
Another amenity that cannot be overstated is the GPS unit in the golf cart. Not only are the yardages to each hole accurate, but there are detailed topographical maps of each green. It’s almost as good as having a seasoned caddy there to help read the greens for you, which will come in handy as the greens can be incredibly undulating.
Beauty & Scenery
Apart from the beauty of the golf course, there’s also a ton of beautiful nature to take in on the property. There are noticeable elevation changes, dense foliage, rocky terrain, and water. All of that is to say there is a huge amount of visual variance that will keep your eyes satisfied.
There is also a ton of wildlife that you’re likely to encounter, including black bears. While I didn’t see one, the day I was there one was spotted on a nearby road only a few hundred yards away from the golf course. Deer were a much more common sight.
On a course that is difficult at times, the tee shots are the easiest aspect. For the most part, fairways are wide and allow for erratic drives.
For some holes, you may need to take less than a driver. You have the option of referring to the detailed flyovers on the cart’s GPS or utilizing course knowledge on where and how to layup.
Approaches are where this course shows what it’s made of, and positioning becomes extremely important. Important because the hazards actually have teeth, they aren’t simply for show.
Multiple times in my pair of rounds, I was out of position in long grass or waste areas, and it increased the difficulty of that next shot. This is not only because it’s much harder to tell how your golf ball will come out of those unusual lies, but also because of the speed and undulation of the greens you’re trying to get to.
Greens & Surrounds
The greens are often wildly sloped and massively undulated. If you put it in the wrong spot, breaks can be as dramatic as any I’ve ever seen on any golf course. Even when it doesn’t look like there’s too much break on a putt, it’d be best to check the cart and get a look at the elevation mapping feature. Despite putting being a massive strength of my game, I found myself consistently under-reading these greens.
The surroundings are not exactly easy either. Many of the holes feature long grass, dense trees, bunkers, and waste areas that definitely show the course puts a premium on short-game skills.
This is a truly unique course that golf course nerds and aficionados will love. It was a challenge finding holes I didn’t enjoy. From the awesome condition of the course to the green complexes to the scenic views and course design, it’s a track that has tons of replay value.
Truly great courses will often have a bit of controversy, and that is true with this course. While I enjoyed every hole, there are a pair of holes that I would call my least favorites. Those would be the 6th and the 15th holes. The main reason was because of partially blind shots into unclearly marked hazards just beyond forced layups. Despite looking at the holes with the awesome GPS unit, it wasn’t clear exactly how much room you had. That lack of precise info resulted in one completely lost ball and another way out of position, despite two good shots.
#2 – Par 5 – 575 yards
The second hole on this course forces you into a choice. Do you elect to be safe and send a shot up the left side, lengthening the hole, or do you live dangerously and try to cut the hole in half by going up the right? I love the different ways to play the hole and that it is completely up to the player. It’s a design that makes you want to experience it both ways, but for the aggressive players, I can see them playing it again and again trying to cut the hole in half playing straight up that right side. I know in my two times of playing it, I did exactly that. Once I was tremendously successful, the other time, not so much.
#9 – Par 4 – 377 yards
This hole feels like it was plucked from Tobacco Road (review HERE), which is a favorite among Plugged In Golf’s writers. From the tee, giant mounds of tall grass surround the hole and make it feel as though there are only 10 yards of usable fairway, but that’s a trick of the eye. This is a hole that’s more visually frightening than it actually plays. If you’re accurate and aggressive, you can be rewarded with an opportunity to score.
#18 – Par 4 – 468 yards
Talk about an intimidating tee shot to end your round. Trees line either side of this tee and form a chute that makes your shot feel like it’s exiting the barrel of a cannon. In the distance is the old quarry, now in the form of a lake. The hole makes almost a complete 90-degree angle left back to the clubhouse and really demands a draw from most players.
The Quarry at Giants Ridge is a unique experience that feels like a puzzle yearning to be solved. Unique hole design and devilishly convoluted green complexes are extremely satisfying to play for avid golfers and golf course nerds. On top of that, scenic views offer a great experience even for beginner golfers or for those who just enjoy being out in nature. It’s a must-play if you’re in the area and is worth a trip to play, even if you’re not.