New updated category for Max’s blog.

River Oaks Golf Course - Cottage Grove

MEETING OUR EXECUTIVE CHEF JAMES WARRINGTON

River Oaks Golf Course and Event Center are excited to introduce you to our Executive Chef James Warrington, (A.K.A. JW). JW has accumulated 32 years of experience in the hospitality and restaurant industry and has been overseeing all of the River Oaks culinary operations for the past three years, including the Eagles Bar & Grill, River Oaks Catering, and all banquet services in our Event Center.

JW grew up in Miami, Florida – a city with gorgeous white sand beaches, art deco, amazing cuisine, and fun vibe. It was in Miami where he was introduced into the restaurant industry at an early age. 

“I started my cooking career at McDonald’s at age 15 working weekend nights,” explained JW. 

At the ripe age of 16, while still in high school, JW started working as a Line Cook at Bojangles Famous Chicken n’ Biscuits, a chain of fast-food restaurants in the Southeastern United States famous for its fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits. Within a year JW had been promoted to Kitchen Supervisor. Over the next few years, as JW began to come of age and adjust to life after high school, was when he began to explore the career possibilities and art form of the culinary world. 

The desire to further his culinary skills pushed JW to move to the city of Duluth, MN where he took a job as a Line Cook at the city’s famous Grandma’s Saloon and Grill. It was at Grandma’s where JW met Chef Gary Baregi, who would be his trainer and mentor for years to come. Through the coaching of Gary Baregi, JW eventually moved to the Twin Cities where he became the Kitchen Supervisor of Grandma’s Saloon and Grill in Minneapolis.

Through many years of a lot of hard work, traveling, sweat, and dedication JW worked his way from Kitchen Supervisor to Sous Chef to Executive Chef to Corporate Culinary Trainer before finally becoming the General Manager. It was as General Manager that JW helped open 9 new Grandma’s locations including opening Bellisio’s Italian Restaurant in Duluth. 

In 2005, following 12 awesome years with the company, JW left Grandma’s and moved to Ohio after meeting his future wife. Despite his departure from Grandma’s JW continued further his career in the restaurant industry working for well-known establishments such as The Winking Lizard Restaurant and TavernCladdagh Irish Pub, and West Point Market

Over the next decade, JW continued to cook and eventually married his wife and together they had a son. Ten years after leaving, JW and his family moved back to Minnesota in 2015 to be closer to family. It was back in the land of ten thousand lakes when JW stubbled on River Oaks Golf Course and Event Center. They were hiring and looking for someone with extensive cooking experience to turn them around. JW applied and was hired immediately.

“They were only serving hotdogs, chips, and brats,” JW remembers from his first day on the job. “Now, we have our Friday night Signature Fish Fry’s, a full menu with ½ pound black Angus burgers, pasta, steaks, salads, and overstuffed sandwiches.”

JW remembers three years ago, River Oaks wasn’t on a lot of people’s radar, but now it’s where a lot of locals come in to eat. JW feels blessed to be a part of River Oaks and the City of Cottage Grove community. 

When JW isn’t cooking food or managing kitchens, he is probably furthering his education and expanding his knowledge. JW received an Associate of Science degree in Graphic Design and Animation in 2004, a degree in Nutrition and Wellness in 2013 and was Certified as a Digital Marketing Professional in 2019

Snow at River Oaks Golf Course - Cottage Grove

5 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR GOLF GAME THIS WINTER

It can be difficult working on your golf game when you live in a northern state like Minnesota! If you live in the Twin Cities metro area, you are lucky to get six months of solid golf play before the long Minnesota winter shuts down like the white lid of a box. Even though most Minnesotians are acclimated to the cold weather, nobody wants to golf in a foot of snow with a windchill of – 20 degrees. Whatever the reason, it’s during the winter months that we need to find creative ways to keep improving our game. I mean, we’re not gonna stop golfing just because of a little cold weather, are we?

Here are 5 ways for you to improve your golf game this winter. 

1. Chip and Putt at Home

Chipping and putting is an easy thing that everyone can do to work on their golf game from home (provided that you have space and carpet). You can keep it as simple as putting into a coffee mug at the end of your hallway or you can invest a little money into some indoor equipment.

They make indoor putting mats and cups with automatic ball-return that are relatively inexpensive. If you are looking to improve your short game from home, consider purchasing a chipping net. If you plan on chipping inside, I would suggest using practice balls! These practice balls feel, spin, and react like a real golf ball but are much softer and have less distance. They can be used indoors and won’t damage drywall, furniture or other property. 

2. Find an Indoor Driving Range

Practicing your drives at home proves to be a little more challenging than chipping and putting. Of course, hitting into a net from short distances allows you to get a feel for your swing, but finding the indoor space to swing a driver (the longest club in your bag) can be difficult. 

However, there are heated indoor driving ranges you can go to that will allow you to take a full swing at a real ball and watch it fly off the tee! The Midwest Golf Dome is a local favorite for the Twin Cities area with 33 stalls and indoor chipping and putting green.

Topgolf in Brooklyn Center is also a place you can go in the winter months to practice your swing. Even though it technically isn’t an indoor range, Topgolf has over 100 climate-controlled hitting bays that will allow you to comfortably work on your swing in a T-Shirt, even in the dead of winter. 

3. Play Golf on a Simulator

Golf simulating technology has really come a long way over the last decade! Early golf simulators felt more like playing an archaic video game with many bugs and glitches that didn’t really allow you to gauge your actual state of play, but now there are simulators that make it feel like you are playing an actual round of golf. Simulators give you the chance to play at famous courses like Pebble Beach or TPC Sawgrass, giving you a pretty realistic score in the process.

If you are looking to try out one of these state-of-the-art simulators, indoor golf and entertainment facilities have begun to pop up in recent years. X-Golf and Birdi Golf are two new businesses that have opened up the city of Woodbury that are as realistic and accurate as simulated golf can be. Both offer golf events, leagues, and lessons that will allow you to play golf all year round! 

4. Watch Golf Tips and Tricks on TV or Youtube

This is a rather simple suggestion, but taking some time to listen to professionals can be very beneficial. Watching the Golf Channel can often reveal some informative tips. There are also hundreds of Youtube channels dedicated to teaching you tips, tricks, and techniques that you can watch from the comfort of your own home!

Content can range from how to fix your slice to different grips for holding your putter. Some of the more popular Youtube channels include Me and My GolfAskGolfGuru, and Buzza Golf. Whether you decide to take their advice or not, just listening to others’ opinions and techniques can further your knowledge of the game. 

5. Take a Trip Down South for a Golf Weekend

This option might be a little out of your price range because traveling and golf aren’t cheap, but southern states like Florida, Arizona, and Nevada are popular destinations for year-round golf. Depending on what destination you pick and what weekend you decide to go, one can find some deals on airfare.

However, lugging your clubs through the airport can be a major hassle. Sure you can rent clubs at the golf course, but you don’t often get the choice of what kind of clubs you get to use. Yet thanks to new technology and business ventures there are ways to get around this. Websites like Ship Sticks will allow you to easily ship your own golf clubs to your destination for a reasonable price. Or the website Club Hub will let you rent the clubs of your choice and have them waiting for you at your hotel when you arrive. Traveling for golf has never been easier!

Don’t let the cold weather and snow deter you from working on your game.

Santa Brunch - River Oaks Golf Course - Cottage Grove

WHAT IS SANTA BRUNCH?

For those that have not heard yet, Santa Claus will be coming to town early again this year! River Oaks wrote to the Jolly Red Man asking if he could take some time from his busy schedule to come out to our community and join us for brunch this December 8th. And would you believe it? He said yes!

This December 8th River Oaks would like to extend an invite to you and your family to join us and Santa at our Event Center for a wonderfully delicious breakfast buffet. Not only will there be breakfast, but there will be gifts, games, s’ mores and decoration. You can even catch a ride on our horse-drawn sleigh and even have the opportunity to meet and get your picture taken with the Jolly Red Man.

Believe it or not, it’s no surprise that Santa accepted our invite because O’l Kris Kringle has been joining us for brunch every December since the opening of the River Oaks Club House in 2000. That’s almost 20 years in a row that Santa has accepted our invitation to brunch and we always make sure to serve some of his favorite foods.

There will be a buffet line full of the hearty breakfast classics that Santa loves so much. We will be serving an assortment of food including fresh fruit, french toast, and danishes followed by bacon, scrambled eggs, sausage links, and breakfast potatoes.

After brunch, everyone will have the opportunity to meet Santa. You will get the chance to introduce yourself, sit on his lap, get your photo taken with Santa, and of course let him know what it is you want for Christmas. You can even ask Santa that question you have always been wanting to ask him!

After you spend some time with Santa, make sure you wander outside to hear the sleighbells jingling and catch a ride on our horse-drawn sleigh. Santa won’t be the one taking you for a ride, but we will take you on a beautiful stroll through the snow around our driving range.

The cool wind brushing up against your cheeks from the sleigh ride might chill your bones, but don’t worry! After the sleigh ride, come warm up around the bonfire and roast your very own s’ mores. Sinking your teeth into a toasty golden roasted marshmallow is one of the quickest and sure-fire ways to warm you up. There will also be some gift-giving! Every child will walk out with a small gift courtesy of us.

River Oaks extends its invite to those of all ages because Santa Brunch is an event full of wonderful holiday fun for the entire family. More importantly, make this holiday season special for the kids. Bring your sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, or your grandsons and granddaughters and make their holiday magical by giving them the chance to give Santa their Christmas wish.

We hope to see you this December 8th from 8 am to 1 pm at River Oaks! Call us at (651)438-2121 (ext. #2) to learn more about Santa Brunch or to make your reservation today!

River Oaks Golf Course - Cottage Grove

THANKS FOR GIVING US AN AWESOME SEASON!

Seeing that Thanksgiving is right around the corner, River Oaks would like to give thanks for the wonderful season we’ve had this year. We could not be more grateful for the weather, all the changes that have been made to the course, our marvelous staff, and everyone that had a chance to make it out to the Oaks.

We are pleased with all the improvements that have been made to the course this year. The addition of our new state of the art golf carts with GPS, Blutooth, and USB charging ports have been a real upgrade to the game and the River Oaks experience. Throughout the season, our grounds crew has gone through the process of removing several dozen trees around the course to open up the fairways and speed up the pace of play. The inclusion of our regulation size bocce ball courts has also garnered a lot of attention, so much so that we plan on adding two more next season.

Also, we are beholden with our River Oaks family that has helped make our course and event center what it is. All of our departments have put in so much work this season to make the River Oaks experience fun and easy. We are grateful for all of your diligence, self-motivation, and dedication to our customers and our mission. Thank you for all you do!

Most of all we would like to say thank you to you the customers! Without you, River Oaks would certainly not exist. We just want to say thank you for giving us your time, your feedback, and your patronage. Support from long-time customers like you helps our course grow and evolve and continue to make improvements. We are committed to providing you with great service and want to invite you to celebrate a great year with us. As a token of our appreciation, we will be hosting Customer Appreciation Night on November 7.

If you would like to give thanks, please feel free to join us on November 22nd for Friendsgiving! Grab those you’re thankful for and come to River Oaks for a family-style Thanksgiving dinner. Bring your family, friends, and neighbors closer together this season for some great food and great conversation. Enjoy the Thanksgiving party without all the setup and clean up!