Who knew? Minnesota has more golfers per capita than any other state, and is the only state to have hosted all 13 USGA Championships. And, with more than 480 golf courses, there is a course to suit every level of play.

The pros certainly think so. The U.S. Women’s Open Golf Championship takes over the Interlachen Country Club in Minneapolis June 23 to 29 this year with a field of 156 professional and amateur players vying for a multi-million dollar purse. The Minnesota Office of Tourism is working with Minneapolis-St. Paul area golf courses like Grand View Lodge, Maddens On Gull Lake, Cragun’s Resort and Hotel on Gull Lake and Giants Ridge Golf and Ski Resort to develop pre- and post-Championship stay and play packages. Check out www.exploreminnesota.com for more info.
The Joel Golstrand Golf Trail lays out 21 two- to four-day golf outings around the state, each taking in a cluster of appealing, affordable golf courses designed by native Minnesotan Joel Goldstrand. A familiar name to Minnesota golfers, Goldstrand spent eight years on the PGA Tour, and has designed or redesigned dozens of courses in the state, from rural country clubs to major resort courses.

Forty-one courses are organized into "loops" of two to four courses scattered throughout the state. A package price for each loop includes discounted green fees and half the cart cost per player.

The four loops in the Twin Cities area include such tracks as Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan. This is a combination links/parkland golf course adorned with an impressive clubhouse. Another metro loop course is Heritage Links in Lakeville, a friendly golf challenge that Goldstrand crafted from rolling farmland skirted by woodland.

In Brainerd Lakes, what many call the state's premier golf destination, The Pines at historic Grand View Lodge offers the Lakes, Marsh and Woods nines, to be joined by another nine that Goldstrand is just finishing up on paper. The Pines shows up on two "Lakes" loops, as does the golf course at Ruttgers Bay Lake Lodge.

For more information, go to www.joelgoldstrandgolftrail.com or call toll-free 888-848-9918 to request a brochure.

Mall Of The Universe
Mall Of America is transforming its indoor amusement park into Nickelodeon Universe, the first-ever Nickelodeon themed park in the world, scheduled to open this Spring. The newly revamped park will feature new rides, live shows, attractions, retail, games and entertainment themed with top ranking network properties including SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Go, Diego, Go!, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Danny Phantom, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, The Backyardigans and many more. Daily meet-and-greets with the characters and talent will be a highlight of Nickelodeon Universe. The revamp of the park also features four new rides including two thrill roller coasters, SpongeBob Squarepants Rock Bottom Plunge and Avatar Airbender. These spine-tingling coasters are the first of their kind to be built inside a mall and completely indoors. The new park will also feature a new and re-invented theme-park dining experience including organic, natural and locally grown foods and dishes, as well as new twist on theme park favourites and ethnically diverse tastes.

Mall of America experienced a nearly seven percent boost in sales between 2007 and the previous year, due in part to a host of new tenants like Burberry; Tumi; Lush at Macy’s; Gucci, Chanel, YSL and Chloe boutiques at Nordstrom; Tag Heuer at Bloomingdale’s and the Heritage Collection at Banana Republic.

This year the Mall welcomes Best Buy, Papyrus, Geox, Gilly Hicks and Pandora Jewelry, as well as Janie and Jack, Levi’s, LACOSTE and Ruehl who are exclusive to Minnesota.