Since 1989, Stonebrooke Golf Club has been the home for Shakopee golfers.
The club opened up in June 1989 as Shakopee’s first golf course and still remains the only course in Shakopee over 30 years later.
The club is owned by Shakopee’s Gary and Randy Laurent, who were home builders before getting into the golf business. The brothers still own Stonebrook today and can’t believe they’ve been in the business this long.
“It’s gone by fast,” Gary said. “You look back and there has been a lot of changes. It’s fun to come out here and see people having fun. We’ve gotten to know a lot of our customers and a lot of those customers were with us from the first day.”
“It seems like just three years,” Randy said.
In the mid-1980s, Gary and Randy owned and operated Laurent Builders and were looking to build a housing development in Shakopee.
“We were home builders and Shakopee at that time really didn’t have the higher end housing developments and we didn’t have the natural amenities that other places had,” Gary said. “Our idea initially wasn’t even to own a golf course, it was just do the houses around it. That was our draw.”
Gary, a former three-term mayor of Shakopee, owned about 60 acres of land around County Road 79 and 14. They purchased about 200 more acres in the area and started the work to build Stonebrooke Golf Club and surrounding houses.
“It’s a beautiful piece of property with the rolling terrain and mix of wetlands, trees and the lake,” Gary said. “It’s a nice mix to do a golf course.”
Getting the project off the ground wasn’t easy, as there was some pushback against the golf course.
“The opposition was a small group but very vocal,” Randy said.
Getting all the necessary permits to start the project took a long time due to the opposition.
“The approvals took forever,” Gary said. “It was a contentious approval process, we had opposition from an owner of another golf course that threw a lot of roadblocks in the way. There was a lawsuit against us and the city. Doing a golf course, there is a lot of government agencies involved.”
The brothers estimated that they had to go through around 20 different government agencies — city, county, state and federal — to get all the necessary permits needed to build the course.
“The city was great,” Gary said. “They had to deal with all of the opposition that got brought forth. They had to take those serious and that takes time.”
Finally in 1987, the Laurents and golf course architect and partner Tom Haugen were able to put shovels in the ground and start building Stonebooke Golf Club.
Gary and Randy both got their hands dirty as they helped plant trees and seed the course, using two of their dad’s farm tractors in the process. In August 1988, they started seeding the course and finally in June 1989 it was open for business.
“Those were very dry years which was good in a way because it allowed us to get construction done but it was very hot,” Randy said. “We worked on it ourselves a lot.”
The course opened to instant success as Shakopee and Scott County golfers were thirsty for a place to play.
“When we first started there was an extreme shortage of golf courses,” Gary said. “We weren’t even open yet and we were booked solid. The course didn’t look that good the first year with a lot of dirt. There was just so much demand for golf that we were profitable in our very first year and we weren’t even open the whole year. The whole project went well, it was very successful.”
It is still very popular today, with around 30,000 to 35,000 rounds played on the course each year.
In 1997, the Laurent brothers bought out Haugen and purchased the par-3 course Water’s Edge and the driving range.
Over the past 30 years, the course and area has seen a lot of changes.
When the course first opened, no houses were built yet. Since then, they’ve added around 100 houses, with the last lot sold last year.
When the course first opened, County Road 14 was still a gravel road and they didn’t have a clubhouse yet. They were operating out of a trailer, Randy said. Since then they’ve added a huge clubhouse with a restaurant and banquet facility to host things like weddings and corporate events.
That clubhouse helped business, especially when the recession hit and people golfed less. Gary said they survived some lean years but business has been pretty good lately.
“Since we first opened there have been a lot of golf courses built and then the recession hit, the golf course industry took a dive like everything else so we had to weather through that but in the last three, four years it’s been pretty good,” he said.
They have also made some changes to the course, adding new tee boxes, rebuilding bunkers, adding some natural areas and other things to maintain the course.
Golf course Superintendent Duane Slaughter has been with Stonebrooke since it opened and is the man responsible for keeping it in great shape. General Manager Einar Odlund has also been with the Laurents for a long time as he joined the team around 1991.
“Our management team makes it easy to own,” Randy said.
Whenever you tell somebody you played Stonebrooke, inevitably the first question asked is, “Did you get the boat ride?”
That boat ride on hole 8 has been the talk of the course since it opened in 1989. Hole 8 is a 380-yard par four that requires your tee shot to carry about 180 yards over Lake O’Dowd.
Once you hit that shot, a course employee loads your cart (if you are riding a cart) onto a pontoon and ferries you across the lake to the fairway.
“It’s sort of how the layout of the course worked out,” Gary said. “There was a nice par 3 hole on the water of Lake O’Dowd and then how do you get to the next hole — do you drive around the lake or what? As builders we couldn’t give up all those lakeshore lots and then it was a long way around and if people are walking that will take a long time, so then how about we ferry them across? Now we have signature hole and it was a big draw and it still is. It’s a good draw.”