Victory Links Golf Course has officially closed its doors after a successful golf season. In addition to managing leagues and day-to-day course operations, Victory Links staff hosted various events including the 3M Open pre-qualifiers that took place in June and the Herb Brooks Foundation’s 13th annual Celebrity Golf Classic that took place in August. 2019 was, without a doubt, a busy year at Victory Links.
Victory Links golf pros, Tom Kirkland and Scott Roth, offered up their time to reflect on the year. What I learned is that Victory Links staff experienced exceptional success throughout the year, despite rule changes, weather implications and a league waiting list.
Q: What was the highlight of the year?
Scott: “The highlight for sure was the 3M Open. It was the first time ever hosting a regular tour stop qualifier. We hosted the Champions Tour Qualifier for a number of years…over a decade. It’s a whole different vibe when you’re doing a regular tour stop. So, for me anyway, that was probably the highlight of the year.”
Tom: “I think it was all the build up to that (3M Open). Having a PGA Tour event in Minnesota was a big deal, especially after the Ryder Cup we had in 2016. We had a bunch of players out there that your base-level golf fan might not know, but definitely—somebody whose paid attention to the tour for the last five years—players that they might recognize. We had Brooks Koepka step foot out there over that week which was cool. We have quotes on the website from Brooks, Gary Player and Hale Irwin.”
“Titans!” Scott interrupts.
Koepka has had quite the last two years and is on a tear after winning back-to-back PGA Tour Championships.
Q: Did rule changes in 2018 even matter?
Scott: “There’s probably five that I know because I’ve used them, or I’ve seen people using them. The pin, for sure. There’s a new local rule about hitting the ball out of bounds that makes it more like a water hazard penalty now. There’s no more having the caddie stand behind the golfer when he hits…Fixing divots and things on the green.”
Tom: “You can fix your line basically if there’s a little spike mark or kick up. Before they were so over the top. All the rules in summary that were changed made the game a lot better.”
I asked, “How so?”
Scott: “It makes it more for the average, everyday person. Some of the (previous) rules were so tight and restrictive.”
Tom: “If you were addressing the ball and it moved—penalty! The game got a whole lot more fair. I kind of like that.”
Q: What preparation went into hosting 3M Open pre-qualifier events?
Scott: “A lot went on leading up to it. All the way from the little stuff like making sure we had new tables, chairs and seating areas up in the range. Then, the obvious of maintenance. It was scary to me because I was doing the math on it going, ‘We’re a full two-months behind of where we normally are.’ We had a late start. Most people don’t remember, but we had a late start this year due to poor weather. It was cool, cloudy and rainy. I was super anxious to see how the course would respond after being two months behind of when we normally hold the event. It was fine…Absolutely perfect.”
Tom: “We got a ton of positive feedback.”
Q: Looking forward to any improvements for next year?
Tom: “This year, more than any other year, if you came over to the golf course and you just took a look around and played the golf course, it would almost be unrecognizable at some levels with some of the new detailing. We’re hoping we can add on to that. We had a good year financially and hope that we can continue to spend a little bit more. I think we have a pretty good idea of the direction that we want to go.”
Scott: “We’re always looking to enhance our food and beverage. That’s our number one push. Not that we need that, because really our focus right now is the golf course, but if we want to continue to grow, that’s inevitable.”
Q: What makes Victory Links so special?
Scott: “Without a doubt, it’s the people. We hear that all the time, and it’s true. We hear it constantly that the way the people are treated here is as if they were visiting a friend or at their own house. It’s that feeling that when you come to Victory Links, it’s like you’re exhaling.”
Tom: “We’re hearing that it’s a hell of a value, and value matters to everybody. People won’t be coming back if it’s not a good value to them.”
Scott: “We’re not pretentious, we’re not arrogant. You walk into some facilities and you just get the stench of arrogance. You know, you’ve been there. It doesn’t have to be a golf course either, it could be any kind of a business where you just feel more like a nuisance as a customer as opposed to being appreciated. And I think the vibe we send out is that we’re, I don’t know, almost like Average Joe’s Gym. People feel like they’re a member even though they’re not.”