Who: Links lovers, Hazeltine members, and the all-around golf obsessed
What: Hazeltine National Golf Club's Clubhouse Debut Party
Where: Hazeltine National Golf Club
When: Thursday, September 23
Why: It’s not everyday that you get to glimpse the mysterious world of the Twin Cities golfing elite. So when the invitation to preview the new Hazeltine clubhouse landed on my desk, I jumped at the opportunity.
I’ve been a golfer since I was as tall as my first set of clubs. I’ve traveled far and wide to play different courses, so I’ve had to learn my way around varying locker rooms, pro shops, and banquet halls. I had the chance to visit the old Hazeltine a few years back, and, simply put, I was overwhelmed by the course (scores will not be mentioned to save my dignity), but underwhelmed by the club. When I returned on September 23 for the opening of the new clubhouse, I was rendered speechless—ask anyone, that’s pretty tough to do.
Gone was the dark, passé clubhouse (the décor dates back to the course’s opening in 1962), and in its place is a modern, airy, natural-looking edifice. Admittedly from the outside it’s hard not to wonder how such a progressive space could possibly work as an iconic golf clubhouse, but upon entering the luxe foyer and taking in the astounding views of the course, my concern for the contemporary design quickly vanished. And after about two minutes in the women’s locker room, where I found televisions, refreshments, and fully stocked vanities, I knew I’d found a golfer’s nirvana.
I reluctantly pulled myself away from the ladies lounge and meandered toward the golf shop. I stopped short, however, when I stumbled on an extraordinary assortment of mementos from previous golf tournaments at the club. Staring back at me where golfing greats from the past 50 years: Rich Beem, Y.E. Yang, Payne Stewart. It’s quite the impressive collection.
I then headed toward the banquet hall to snack on an array of tasty noshes with Steve Sefton and Kelly and Scott Anderson. After an unladylike serving of finger-lickin’ ribs and too many shrimp cocktails to count, I made my way over to Steve Hockett and Ryan Steensland and what appeared to be a fancy looking bronze statue. Hockett and Steensland were encouraging members to pledge $5,000 for the new “walking man” sculpture that is going up outside the club. The “walking man” is the club’s logo, which features the outline of a man carrying his golf bag. Each of the 50 members who pledged $5,000 will receive a smaller bronze version and a nameplate at the base of the statue on the grounds. Dang. If only I hadn’t forgotten my checkbook . . .
As I continued to wander amongst the multiple dining areas, I stopped at the flat-screen-TV-ridden bar to take in the atmosphere of the evening. Everywhere throughout the three-story, 4,900-square-foot facility members were animatedly reconnecting with old friends, telling glory golfing tales from the summer. Because all of Hazeltine was shut down in early July for renovations (the course received a makeover in preparation for the Ryder Cup 2016), you could sense the members’ excitement at returning home.
It was especially inspiring for me to speak with Bill and Sunny Frantzich, who have been Hazeltine members since 1964. As I listened to childhood tales of their children (and their children’s children), I realized that Hazeltine was more than merely a magnificent golfing institution. For these members, it’s a gathering place of family and friends, a golfer’s paradise, and, thanks to the new clubhouse, a true place of beauty.