Three Generations Call Braemar Home for 51 Years
By Anjali Aralikar, Contributing Writer
September 2017 - While Braemar Golf Course has changed since opening in 1964, it’s obvious to the Wanninger-Smith family that the joy they get from spending time there hasn’t. Les Wanninger, daughter Katie Smith, and granddaughter Callie Smith all call Braemar home, especially Wanninger, who first started golfing at Braemar in 1966.
“Back then, the original golf course was really terrific,” said Wanninger. “I remember the regulation course being a lot of fun to play on and it was a really nice course with friendly people. ”
Eventually, he brought his then 10-year old daughter, Katie, along, who quickly signed up for lessons. “I was ready to be something other than his caddy,” laughed Katie, who said her first memory at Braemar was caddying for her father. “I remember being 8 years old in a dress, and I would carry his golf clubs and walk along the course with him.”
When Wanninger’s granddaughter Callie was old enough to golf, he made sure to introduce Braemar to her as well.
“I started playing at Braemar in fifth grade and played on the course every week with my grandfather,” said Callie, 14, who mentioned that she started playing because of family influences. “I guess it was sort of expected of me.”
Her first memory of the course was driving the golf cart with her grandfather. “Once we got off at the second or third hole, I’d switch with him and get to drive until we got to the clubhouse. Once we were in view of the clubhouse, I would switch back with him,” said Callie.
Wanninger has witnessed the improvements made at Braemar since it opened in the 1960s.
“A lot of the things they did were to get rid of the things that slowed play down,” said Wanninger.
“I mean, the courses changed and obviously the staff has changed, but for us, it’s about the experience on the course. Maybe it looks a little different than it did 30 years ago, but it’s the same feeling,” said Katie.
The family also has many happy memories at Braemar. For Callie, it was getting a hole-in-one on holes No. 4 in 2016 and No. 8 in 2017 on the new Academy 9 course. For Wanninger, it’s simply enjoying the course. “It was always a better course than when we went to other courses in the area,” said Wanninger. “We’re really lucky Edina has such a nice golf course.”
Braemar has also given Wanninger and his family the opportunity to enjoy an activity together.
“Golf is something we can play as three generations and not a lot of sports can do that,” said Katie.
For more than 51 years, Braemar has been home to Wanninger and his family. He says it will continue to be their family’s home course for many years to come.