1403 Montreal Ave., St. Paul, 651-695-3774, golfstpaul.org
Since it was redesigned in 2005, Highland National, in St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood, has been the hidden jewel of the metro muni golf system. The celebrated “Snoopy bunker” gets most of the attention, but the rest of the course is a respectable, entertaining test of golf, even for experienced players. Narrow tree-lined fairways, challenging par threes, several water hazards, pristine sand bunkers, and well-kept greens are all part of Highland’s charm. There’s a nice nine-hole regulation course across the street too.
1850 70th St., Inver Grove Heights, 651-457-3667, inverwood.org
From south Minneapolis and much of St. Paul, Inver Wood Golf Course, in Inver Grove Heights, is actually faster to get to than many city courses. Carved out of 275 acres of rolling, tree-filled terrain, it’s also one of the most scenic courses in the metro, with deer and wild turkeys roaming the fairways early in the morning. The championship course features some of the best elevated-tee shots around, as well as some great par fives, and the layout, while challenging, is very forgiving to slicers. Sure, you’ll lose a few balls in the woods, but you’ll probably find a few too, so it all evens out.
4851 McAndrews Rd., Apple Valley, 952-953-2323, valleywoodgolf.net
Apple Valley’s Valleywood Golf Course is where you head if the metro courses are packed and you need to get away and clear your head. The course has 11 ponds and lots of mature trees, with many tee shots that require you to avoid both. In midsummer, bluebirds and ducks are seemingly everywhere, and the course’s abundant flora is often breathtaking. Bring a camera.