CHASKA, Minn. - With its modern buildings and timeless design, Hazeltine National Golf Club in many ways looks new. But its appearance belies the history of one of the nation's most storied courses.
"It's a great story to tell," said Kyle Molin, chair of Hazeltine's Heritage Committee and historian for the 2016 Ryder Cup.
That was clear six years ago, when crews began tearing down the nearly 50 year old clubhouse and unearthed a hidden treasure. Stacked in a storage room, no one realized the golf mementos that for decades were forgotten in the basement beneath them.
"It was amazing when we truly dug in and saw what we had," Molin said. "Some of the things that hadn't been looked at for several years. It was very eye-opening."
And not until it was all displayed in its new clubhouse did Hazeltine learn just how deep its roots run. Staff and volunteers spent nearly three months sorting and organizing piece by piece everything they found, eventually displaying it in a special room in the lower level of the new clubhouse.
"If you're a fan of golf history, this room is just a treasure," said Nick Sage, assistant golf professional at Hazeltine. "Just about every day I'd find something that was incredible, and I'd run it up to the shop and show all the guys."
Now the collection features artwork and autographs, badges and balls, pins and pictures and plaques, each with a story of its own.
"It's amazing some of the stuff we have in this room," Sage said.
Among the artifacts is a contestant pin from 1930 when Bobby Jones won the grand slam, the greatest feat in golf. There are also many relics from legendary Minnesota golfer Les Bolstad, including an image that later inspired Hazeltine's own logo. And one of the most cherished items is Payne Stewart's sand wedge from his championship round at Hazeltine's 1991 US Open.
"He hit a shot in the playoff against Scott Simpson off the rocks on (hole) number eight," said Mike Barge, Hazeltine's Director of Instruction. "And he created a little nick."
Some of the most iconic pieces are now housed upstairs in the club's Heritage Hall, a space specially built to showcase keepsakes from Hazeltine's long list of championships. One of those spots waits to be filled, as this year comes its biggest event yet.
"The Ryder Cup is the Super Bowl of golf," Molin said.
A bright future, a rich past, and as new and old come together, a history that's still being written.
"It's been a lot of fun," Sage said.