A Course For The Ages
August 2017 – Joseph Hulbert moved to Edina more than 30 years ago with his family. Though he was just a teen then, it didn’t take long for him to discover Braemar Park and the golf course has been near and dear to his heart ever since.
“Golf is a sport that I loved growing up. I spent a lot of time on my own playing with friends and practicing. It’s really one of the great activities that you can do to get outside and unwind,” he said.
Joseph now shares his love of golfing with his 14-year-old son, Andrew. The two of them have spent countless hours on the course and at Braemar Golf Dome and they both see it as a cathartic and nostalgic place to spend an afternoon together.
“I started bringing Andrew to the range and the golf dome when he was 4 or 5. It was just a fun way to spend a little time together and he’s always really enjoyed it and enjoyed doing it together,” said Joseph. “Any time you can get out here and play and just have any time to connect and talk, put your phone away, enjoy the fresh air, laugh and create memories, you experience what golf is all about.”
Andrew echoes his father’s comments. “Almost all my friends golf and they mostly all come here. I think this is a really nice course; I like it a lot,” said Andrew. “They maintain the course well. It’s not too fast and not too slow. My favorite part of golfing is getting a birdie, hanging out with friends and family, and just hitting balls.”
Joseph encourages other young people to take advantage of the City’s course and the programming available through Braemar.
“The earlier you start, the easier it is. When Andrew was 5 years old and he whiffed on the ball or he topped it or shanked it, he didn’t get frustrated. He was just there to have fun. But if you bring out a 15-year-old or a 25-year-old, they’ll get frustrated,” he said. “We’ve also got an unbelievable junior program with our Pros, Joe Greupner, Mike Grube and Roger Fahrenkrug. It’s a great teaching facility out here.”
Through the years, Andrew has set different goals for himself and he has a library of memories with his dad.
“I remember hitting to the wall at the Dome. If I hit the wall, I thought that was really cool,” he said. But nothing can compare to the time he hit a hole-in-one on the third hole of the old regulation course.
“It was pretty fun. We had friends up ahead of us, so they looked and said, ‘Yep, it was a hole-in-one.’ He ran all the way up, 160 yards from the green to the pin, by himself,” said Joseph.
Others remember that hole-in-one, too. “I remember the time Andrew got the hole-in-one. I remember because his dad has a video and he came right in here to the clubhouse and started showing us all,” said Braemar Golf Course General Manager Joe Abood with a laugh.
Still, with as much love as Joseph has for the course, he’s not blind to the fact that it had seen better days. Over the years, Braemar lost some of its luster and nearby courses started to surpass it in quality.
“Time kind of passed Braemar up a little bit for a while, but it’s hard not to recognize all the time and effort that’s going into bringing this facility back to what it once was,” said Joseph.
Braemar is currently undergoing construction on the Championship 18 course that is expected to open in August 2018.
“Joseph was one of the first residents that I met when I started here,” Abood said. “Joseph has been involved with the current renovation project from the very beginning. He was part of the Master Plan Task Force and helped with the community involvement during the design process.”
However, many improvements can already be seen throughout the course.
“For one thing, we’re actually still hitting off of grass on the range. By this time in past years, we would have been hitting off of dirt,” said Joseph. “The facility and the quality of the product are improving. This is now probably one of the best driving ranges in the state. This is probably one of the best par 3 courses in the state. And we will probably have one of the best public courses in the metro area when the new course opens up.”
Joseph sees the future that Braemar Golf Course has. He knows it has good bones, an amazing location and soon it will have the polish it deserves.
“This location is amazing. There aren’t many courses in the metro where you can get out and feel like you’re up north,” said Joseph. “It ‘s an unbelievable park; it really is a jewel that we have in our backyard. We’ve seen the course they’re building a few times and there is going to be a lot of excitement when it opens up.”