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Area Golf: Snow realizes career goal at Northwood Hills

Mike Snow is an A-1. That was the goal. It's why he changed careers, transplanted his family from St. Francis to the Brainerd lakes area and invested time and money into earning his PGA of America certification. Now the real work begins. Snow is ...

PGA Professional Mike Snow is welcoming the challenge of his new position at Northwood Hills Golf Course. The course formally known as Mille Lacs Golf Resort and Hardwoods is located south of Garrison. (Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls)
PGA Professional Mike Snow is welcoming the challenge of his new position at Northwood Hills Golf Course. The course formally known as Mille Lacs Golf Resort and Hardwoods is located south of Garrison. (Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls)

Mike Snow is an A-1.

That was the goal. It's why he changed careers, transplanted his family from St. Francis to the Brainerd lakes area and invested time and money into earning his PGA of America certification.

Now the real work begins.

Snow is the new head PGA professional at Northwood Hills Golf, formerly Mille Lacs Golf Resort, formerly Hardwoods, located south of Garrison. The property was purchased by Chuck Appeldoorn as part of the Appeldoorn's on Mille Lacs corporation, which also owns and operates Fiddlestix Golf Course in Isle, Sunset Bay Resort, Spirit Lake Inn and Sweets and Spirit Lake Pub and Patio.

Northwoods was bank owned for the last five seasons after the Hardwoods owners declared bankruptcy. After more than a year of legal findings, Snow and head superintendent Scott Melby are working to change the image, the course and the golfing experience.

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Northwood Hills Golf Course

Where: Captive Lake Road, Garrison

What: 18-hole golf course formerly known as Mille Lacs Golf Resort

Head PGA professional: Mike Snow

Superintendent: Scott Melby

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"This is exciting," said Snow, who was an assistant professional at Cragun's Legacy Courses and The Pines at Grand View Lodge. "Three days after I finished moving into my new house in Nisswa; I was building a hanging book shelf in my bedroom. I had a screw gun in my hand when the phone rang."

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That's how Snow's career changing moment began. Now he's entered a position that had little in the way of records. He didn't know who may have been members in years past. There were no records of how many rounds were played. So his first priority - drumming up business.

"There is zero history," Snow said. "I have no idea what this place did for the last five years. I can't even guess. We've probably done 600 rounds so far this spring. We are up to 41 members. I just got three new ones the other day. My goal was 75 this year. I didn't know where to go. My goal is 15,000 rounds and I'm not sure if we'll get there, but the word is starting to get out there that we are fixing this place up."

The 200 acre property already houses a new clubhouse, which features the pro shop and Charlies Bar and Grill. A new driving range, 18 additional white sand bunkers and a practice green are in the works. The top priority, however, is fixing the turf grass and spreading the word the course is open with new owners invested in making the Northwood Hills golfing experience a memorable one.

"We want to raise the class of this place," said Snow. "We have a new, beautiful clubhouse. We have new GPS carts coming. We have a new maintenance facility, new superintendent, new head pro, new bar manager. We're trying to raise the level and there is a lot to do. This place has been so under cared for in the past."

The 6,359-yard layout is a par 72 and as Snow likes to stress only 25 miles away from Brainerd. The husband and father of two hopes the many contacts he made from running men's league at Cragun's the past three years will help create business.

"We're going to start marketing the Brainerd area," said Snow. "We need the locals to come down and play golf and buy memberships and eat dinner at Charlies. We also have a stay and play package with the casino as well as Sunset Bay Resort and Spirit Lake Inn and Sweets for both Fiddlesix and Northwood Hills. They want to start a Grand Casino league. All those things are great."

Snow plans to use what he learned from his years at the Legacy Courses and Grand View to make Northwood Hills successful. For example, he recreated the popular "Ernie's League" that is hosted by Cragun's with the Y Club in Garrison.

"I sat down with Eric Peterson (Cragun's Resort general manager), Chuck Klecatsky (head PGA professional at at Cragun's Legacy Courses) and Jack Wawro (head PGA professional at Grand View) and thanked them personally," said Snow. "That was important to me to just let them know how important their training has meant to me and my career. They prepared me for this opportunity.

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"I see myself being here for a very long time. I'm loving it. I'm two, almost three months in, now and it's gone fast. The course is getting better every single day. It's going to get there and I'm excited."

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop .

PGA Professional Mike Snow is proud of No. 3 at Northwood Hills Golf Course near Garrison. The course is undergoing a complete face lift with a new club house featuring Charlie's Bar and Grill. (Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls)
PGA Professional Mike Snow is proud of No. 3 at Northwood Hills Golf Course near Garrison. The course is undergoing a complete face lift with a new club house featuring Charlie's Bar and Grill. (Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls)

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