Founded in 1898, Minikahda is the oldest country club west of the Mississippi and a premier club in the region. The city of Minneapolis has grown up around the Club. A group of young picnickers were so impressed by the spot they found atop a hill overlooking Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun); they acquired the land and set out to form a club for social functions and golf. Today, The Minikahda Club is a year-round full-service club with a vast offering of social, dining, and sport activities. The name Minikahda comes from the Dakota, a combination of two words meaning "by the side of the water." The club logo, in fact, depicts a Native American shield, similar to the original artifact framed in the Clubhouse.
Minikahda’s Vision is to provide the membership a superior social and recreational experience based on the values of family, fellowship, integrity, respect, and inclusiveness.
The Minikahda Club has a long and colorful history dating back to 1898, when the key founding fathers, C.T. Jaffray, a powerful and respected financial figure in Minneapolis, Martin Koon, William Edgar, Walter Tiffany and Harry Thayer started the club. The name Minikahda comes from the Dakota, a combination of two words meaning "by the side of the water." The club logo in fact, depicts an Indian shield, similar to the original artifact framed in the clubhouse.
By April of 1899 the full complement of 600 members (350 men and 250 women) was secured with a waiting list of 50. On July 15, 1899, Judge Koon, Club president, with suitable ceremony drove the first ball off the first tee. The original Membership fee was of $20 for men and $10 for women.
The club's first golf professional, Willie Watson, who designed nearby Interlachen Country Club, along with Robert Foulis laid out the original nine-hole course, with the first shot being struck in the summer of 1899. Seven years later, the board approved plans to purchase additional property for an 18-hole layout. Foulis, Robert Taylor and Jaffray, who served on the Executive Committee of the United States Golf Association, created the new course, which opened in 1907. Renowned course architect Thomas Bendelow was brought in a year later to propose some minor adjustments to the course. It should be noted that not replacing divots is not something that was tolerated back in the day, as the Board of Governors in 1916 instituted a policy that players would be suspended for two weeks for failure to replace divots.
The USGA made its first stop to Minikahda back in 1916, as amateur Charles "Chick" Evans captured the U.S. Open. What was even more amazing, is that Evans carded a two-over-par 286 to defeat Jock Hutchison by two shots, using only seven clubs. That's right, seven wooden-shafted sticks enabled Evans to post a score that would last for 20 years. During the final round, Evans gambled at the par-five 12th, going for the green in two. It turned out to be quite successful, as he two-putted for birdie and eventually the win.
With that record score in mind, the membership of Minikahda felt that the course needed a facelift to keep up with the changing times of golf, never realizing that Evans' total would remain intact for two decades. Despite the thoughts of the Club, the U.S. Open players struggled for the week, averaging 76.28 for the championship with only five rounds under par, the best, a three- under 68 on the final day by Hutchison.
DONALD ROSS REDESIGN
The powers that be enlisted the one and only Donald Ross to redesign the course. Ross was just coming into his own as an architect, as he was working on Oakland Hills, Inverness and Scioto at the same time of this project. The Board accepted the improvements, with the only item remaining intact, the stately clubhouse that still stands today. The beautiful structure overlooks Lake Calhoun and awards a sensational view of Minneapolis proper.
Work started in the fall of 1916 at a cost of just $7,380, but due to World War I, the changes were not implemented until the fall of 1920.
Just 11 years after the Open, the USGA made a return trip to Minikahda for the U.S. Amateur Championship, where Robert (Bobby) Tyre Jones registered the third of his record, five titles. Jones, the medalist at 142, crushed Chick Evans in the final, 8 & 7. Jones opened with a hard-fought 2-up win over Maurice McCarthy, designer of the original course at Hershey Country Club. In the semifinals, Jones wiped out two-time Amateur winner and 1913 U.S. Open champion Francis Ouimet, 11 & 10, prior to his easy victory over Evans.
Next up was the Walker Cup in 1957. Led by captain Charlie Coe, the United States squad cruised to an 8-3 win over Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. squad featured eight-time Walker Cupper William C. Campbell, six-time player William Hyndman III and Mason Rudolph, who would later win five times on the PGA Tour.
The U.S. Women's Amateur made a stop at The Minikahda Club in 1988, as current LPGA player Pearl Sinn knocked off Karen Noble in the finals, 6 & 5. Sinn's most notable win en route to the title was a 2-up quarterfinal victory over future nine-time LPGA Tour winner Kelly Robbins.
30TH CURTIS CUP
The final USGA stop at Minikahda came in 1998, for the women's team amateur event, the 30th Curtis Cup matches. In an epic battle, the United States regained the Cup with a 10-8 victory over Great Britain & Ireland. Team USA included the Grande Dame of USGA events, Carol Semple Thompson, Virginia Derby Grimes, Jenny Chuasiriporn, who lost in the finals to Grace Park at the U.S. Women's Amateur that same year and was defeated in a playoff at the 1998 U.S. Women's Open, and current LPGA player Beth Bauer. But it was Brenda Corrie Kuehn and Kellee Booth who posted brilliant 4-0 marks to help the United States capture the Cup for the first time since 1990.
It was time for a change and who better to bring The Minikahda Club back into prominence than Ron Prichard. Rees Jones is known as the "Open Doctor" while Ron Prichard should be tallied as the "Ross Restorer." In 2001, Minikahda brought in Prichard to revitalize the course. Prichard, who has restored over 30 Donald Ross layouts, removed hundreds of trees, lengthened the course, reshaped the putting surfaces back to their original sizes, rebuilt and relocated the bunkers and squared all the tee boxes. The multi-million dollar renovation was a huge success, as the course now moves into the 21st century.