Hayfield’s Oaks remains top course

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 23, 2000

HAYFIELD – Sure, Ramsey Golf Course is popular, but it’s so busy all the time.

Thursday, March 23, 2000

HAYFIELD – Sure, Ramsey Golf Course is popular, but it’s so busy all the time.

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The Austin Country Club is a special place, but it is a country club.

On the other hand, Cedar River Country Club is not a walk-softly, replace-all-divots-or-else, dress-coded kind of country club.

Meanwhile, Meadow Greens has that new, extra-long back nine to go with its front nine, but as the newest course in the area, it still must prove itself.

Golfers are fussy people. They claim a course as theirs and except for a few exceptions that’s the course they will golf each season.

So, where does that leave the Oaks Golf Course southwest of Hayfield?

Answer: at the top.

To the 300 members, it is their favorite course. It is their home course. It is where they want to be.

"Our members are very loyal to the Oaks," said Troy Holtz. "We draw from Rochester, Owatonna and even the Twin Cities. We have a special 50-Miler membership and we have a lot of golfers who come down here from the Twin Cities, golf 18 holes and get back at a reasonable hour."

"But," Holtz added, "the majority of our members year after year are people from this community and the area around it. This is their choice. It’s the golf course they want to play."

Before anyone thinks Holtz is starting area golf course wars with his words, consider what the course has to offer.

The course opened with 18 holes in 1977 with 2,926 yards out and 3,119 in, all cutting through groves thick with majestic oak trees and the headwaters of the Cedar River rippling nearby.

The same person who designed the Cedar River Country Club near Adams designed the Hayfield course.

This season, the course opened March 4 and 5 and the weekend attracted 250 golfers.

"The Oaks is enough of a challenge to stimulate golfers, but not too much to make them pull their hair out. It’s that kind of course," said Holtz.

Holtz, a native of Waseca, lives in Austin with his wife Diana, a medical records clerk at Austin Medical Center-Mayo Health System.

He has worked for the Oaks’ corporate owners for seven years. Two years ago, he became the course’s golf professional. Holtz also operates the pro shop.

He also coaches the Austin High School boys varsity hockey team.

Holtz was an outstanding baseball player at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and Austin Community College.

He started golfing when he was 19 years old.

"It’s really just an average course; no more challenging or unusual than many others of its kind," he said.

The course’s greens are considered among the very best anywhere and credit must go to course superintendent Jeff Wendler.

The supper club is operated by Ross and Colleen Volgarino and is popular for special events, including the annual Miss Hey Days Pageant, during the community’s summertime celebration.

There are three league nights that keep Holtz and others busy. A three-person best ball tournament on Mondays causes the course to be closed to the public. On Tuesdays, there is a women’s two-person, nine-hole best shot tournament and on Thursdays there is a two-person, nine-hole best ball tourney for men and women partners.

Green fees this season are $18 for 18 holes on weekdays and $20 on weekends.

"We host one public golfing event each month, during the season," Holtz said, "as well as many private golfing events."

The Hayfield Vikings high school golf teams (boys and girls) A and B teams as well as seventh- and eighth-graders call it their home course.

Coming up April 15 is the popular Hayfield and Blooming Prairie girls tournament.

And, speaking of female golfers. the name Lisa Meschke immediately comes to mind.

According to Holtz, Meschke, a Blooming Prairie High School senior, is one of the very best golfers to golf the Oaks. A high school senior, Meschke has earned a full-ride scholarship to Iowa State University next year.

Meanwhile, Ryan Kuster and Dan Christianson continue to be the cream of the crop of young male golfers.

The high school juniors made headlines and caught others’ eyes last spring. Kuster made the 1999 Minnesota Boys State Golf Tournament and Christianson was "just barely edged out," according to Holtz.

"But," Holtz said, "Lisa Meschke is probably one of the very best golfers I’ve ever seen. She won the 54 tourneys she entered and has golfed in national tournaments, too."

Holtz believes the appearance of Tiger Woods on the golf scene may have attracted more inner- city youths to the sport than country teens, but he said, "Definitely, there’s more interest in golf among young people, because of his age and his success."

Holtz said the Oaks succeeds for a variety of reasons. "having a supper club here is an advantage," he said. "It helps us attract events from outside the area, because if people are going to travel a distance to golf they want to dine afterward."

"For example, many IBM workers at Rochester come to Hayfield to golf and eat," he said.

Holtz’s pro shop carries a full line of golf equipment for anyone hoping to improve their game by adding a different club, ball, shoes or glove to their arsenal of weapons.

For the record, the course record of the par 72 course is 66 and it has been tied four times since it was set.

Holtz is as anxious as anyone for bright sunshine, clear blue skies and dry fairways and greens and the golfers it attracts.

"I’ve always said there are two kinds of golfers: those who golf Monday through Friday and those who golf on weekends. They’re two different kinds of people," he said.

The Oaks is also one of the rare courses that offer a Big Cup tournament. In fact, the Hayfield course has four such tournaments. With holes the size of ice cream buckets, every time a Big Cup tournament is scheduled "It fills right away," said Holtz.

This year, golfers will notice there are more cart paths, a new championship tee on the 12th hole and a new women’s tee on the eighth hole.

Upgrading the facilities is a constant priority for the course’s shareholders and employees.

For more information about the Oaks Golf Course, call (507) 477-3233.