Sunday, May 3, 2009

Flurries awards: golf course of the year

(note: the City of Lakes course is not included in these rankings, since it would probably win every time and since the trail wanders off the golf course)

Why give an award in this category? Well, because with today's fast-paced lifestyle, there are a lot of times when you need to go ski on the fairways in order to do what needs to be done. If you live where I do, Highland Golf Course is five minutes away, Como is ten. Especially at rush hour, these are much more convenient than the more interesting, sheltered and fun trails in the woods. But, golf courses are a necessity.

Last year, I would have had some issue deciding on this award. Como was a mess with utility work and shoddy grooming, and Highland, well, too often when I go to Highland the wind blowing across the hill is brutal and cold. Let's just say I'm not a fan.

This year, however, Como wins, hands down. Grooming at Como has improved in recent years. Back in the day, they'd sometimes run a Pisten Bully on three inches of snow, renovating up enough grass that I thought there'd be a brown, curvy line through the course come spring. With the exception of last year, when utility work set back grooming somewhat, it has improved since. It is a shame to have lost some trail in the back bowl, and it would be superb if some of the snowmaking could be extended to give us Saint Paulites a manmade strip of our own (getting through downtown Minneapolis at rush hour is a pain), but the grooming at Como this year was quite good.

The best example of this is regarding the hill climbing out of the back bowl. It originally was laid out so that it climbed up the side of a hill, with perhaps an eight percent fall line running perpendicular to the trail. I suggested on Skinnyski that they could groom a slightly more circuitous route and have much better trails. A couple days later, it was so. After trucks driving across the course all last winter, this is far better.

The one other thing at Como is the ability to telemark on the snowboard hill. A couple times there were a few inches of new powder over a solid, but not icy, base, and I took advantage. I'd storm up the hill (got to get in those hill climbs) and then drop my knees, curling down. It doesn't quite measure up to tele-skiing down the freshly-groomed gravity ski slope at Giants Ridge, but still pretty darned fun.

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