Game 55: Rice!

I asked Siri where to get a free Minnesota highway map. She kindly directed me to the nearest MnDOT office (Roseville), where the woman staffing the reception desk appeared at once surprised and tickled pink at my request.

She looked in her drawer and pulled out two maps, one printed in 2008 and another from 2015. I walked out with both.

The maps now hang in my basement, and I’ve been busy pricking pins into the municipalities where I’ve golfed (white pin) and sunk beers at a bar (black pin).

I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. My dad made himself at home in one of its disproportionate number of taverns. A regular at the bar – nice guy, lifer at the factory in town, long since maxed out his vacation accrual – was using his five weeks per year to pursue a goal that struck inspiration in both of our hearts: golfing every one of the state’s municipal courses.

So I got myself a map …

The first 75-degree day we had in Minnesota this year (5/13), I spent nearly two hours in the car to meet my golf partner in Rice, Minn.

No pin there.

We played Oak Hill Golf Club. It’s not a municipal course, but it is under new management. Full bar, kitchen and $24 for 18 holes on foot. $35 with a cart.

The price was right. The course was challenging but fair, and interesting enough given the price. Any further north, in my experience, and hitting one into the “woods” would mean disaster. Here, you could punch out – maybe even conceive an angle to the green. But accuracy certainly had its reward.

Rice, meanwhile, has more going for it off the highway (U.S. 10) than on it. We walked out of Rumors – which I must have driven past 100 times on my way to the family cabin, glancing with an envious eye at all the cars driven by people already enjoying happy hour – without ordering a drink.

We ate wings at the muni bar with cheap Miller Lites on the main drag, then chased a meat raffle at the Irish bar with a giant patio area down the street, only to find out it’d been canceled. We hung out for a pizza (OK) and a game of horseshoes. (How do old people play this game? I’m 37 years old, and I have to take a running start to sling that hunk of metal all the way to the sand pit.)

It was slow, but the bachelorette party arrived just as we were leaving. One can only imagine how the town might hop in the heat of summer …

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