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The Wilderness at Fortune Bay Resort Casino

Getting To Know: The Wilderness at Fortune Bay Resort Casino

An Insightful Interview With Ryan Peterson, General Manager

By Brian Weis

Whether you have played a course 20+ times a year or looking to play the course for the first time, insights from an insider can help enhance your golf experience. Below is an interview with Ryan Peterson who shares some valuable tidbits about the course, memorable holes and must eats and treats at the 19th.

Give Our Readers An Overview of the Golf Course/Property
The Wilderness at Fortune Bay Resort Casino is on Golf Digest's top 100 list and is for good reason. The golf course is woven through the North woods of Northern Minnesota and is nestled alongside the fifth largest lake in the state, Lake Vermilion. Award winning golf course architect, Jeffery Brauer, amplified an already picturesque property by integrating split fairways and granite rock ledges into his design to accentuate the panorama the course offers. The Wilderness is as visually stimulating as it is enjoyable to play.

If Someone Was Looking To Golf In The Area, Why Should They Play Your Course?
Golf Course Superintendent Ryan VerNess, and his staff pride themselves on the condition the course is in whether it is spring, summer, or fall. If superb course conditions and national rankings are not reason enough to visit, then being located right across the parking lot of a 173 suite hotel/Casino might entice you. The hotel has a fitness center, pool, sauna. The casino offers over 800 slot machines, blackjack and poker tables. After your round the award winning Wilderness Grill offers a unique menu that borders on fine dining with vistas of the course while you dine. Make it a weekend and utilize the various amenities the resort has to offer such as the RV park, 80 plus slip marina, or esteemed heritage center.

What Tips or Local Knowledge Would You Provide To Help Them Score Better At Your Course?
The golf course plays very fair, albeit visually intimidating. I recommend you pay attention to where the pin placements are as it can dictate the best route to be taken for low scores. All of the golf cars are equipped with GPS units that have flyover feature to see and hear the best way to play each hole.

Recent Awards or What You Are Most Proud About The Course?
Best Resort Courses in America (#67) - Golfweek 2020, Best Courses America (#7, #1 in MN) - Golfweek 2020, Best: State by State Courses You Can Play in MN (#2) - Golfweek 2019, America's Top 100 Public Courses (#72) - Golf Digest 2019, Best in State (#10 overall, #3 Public) - Golf Digest 2019, Best Golf Course in Minnesota (#1) - Golftime Magazine 2018

I am very proud of our environmental stewardship. We have been certified under the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary program since 2005.

What Is The Signature, Most Talked About, or Most Photographed Hole?
Our most talked about hole is #5 because of the green. Jeffery Brauer demonstrated his interest in old designers on hole #5 by fashioning a Biarritz style green on the 364 yard par four, where the swale slashes across and is five feet deep. It is tough to narrow down which hole is our most photographed as we see so many different photos out on the course. I'd have to say hole #1 for the sake that it is a massive par 5 to start on, hole #7 is a short par 3 with tee boxes overlooking the green and hole #13 because the entire hole is along Lake Vermilion.

What Is Your Favorite Hole? Any Tips to Play It?
I love hole #8, it is a risk/reward par 5, that wraps around water and is guarded by a timber wolf paw bunker.

Must Have Dish or Drink after the round at the 19th Hole?
Chef prides himself on including as many local ingredients as possible. We have a lot of fun new items this year so my must have dish could possibly change but our guests' favorite and one of mine is our Walleye dinner.

Who Holds Course Record and What Was Their Score?
The course record is held by Minnesota PGA Professional Bill Israelson. He shot 66 from the tips back in 2005 when we hosted the Minnesota Section Club Professional Championship.

Back Tee Stats
Par: 72
Yardage: 7207
Slope: 142
Rating: 75.3

More Information
The Wilderness at Fortune Bay Resort Casino
1450 Tower, Minnesota, 55790

Revised: 09/26/2016 - Article Viewed 34,601 Times - View Course Profile

About: Brian Weis

Brian Weis Brian Weis is the Publisher of, a network of golf travel and directory sites including,,,, etc. Professionally, Brian is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA), International Network of Golf (ING), Golf Travel Writers of America (GTWA), International Golf Travel Writers Association (IGTWA) and The Society of Hickory Golfers (SoHG). In 2016, Brian won The Shaheen Cup, an award given to a golf travel writer by his peers.

All of his life, Brian has been around the game of golf. As a youngster, Brian competed at all levels in junior and high school golf. Brian had a zero chance for a college golf scholarship, so he worked on the grounds crew at West Bend Country Club to pay for his University of Wisconsin education. In his adult years, his passion for the game collided with his entrepreneurial spirit and in 2004 launched In 2007, the idea for a network of local golf directory sites formed and was born. Today, the network consists of a site in all 50 states supported by national sites like, and It is an understatement to say, Brian is passionate about promoting golf and golf travel on a local, regional, national and international level.

On the golf course, Brian is known as a fierce weekend warrior that fluctuates between a 5-9 handicap. With a soft fade, known as "The Weis Slice", and booming 300+ drives, he can blast it out of bounds with the best of them.

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