The 51-year-old has had a golf club in his hands since he was 5 years old and now he, along with his wife Kelly and his daughters Savannah and Alex, own and operate the golf course that runs right in the middle of Highway 3 in Crosslake.
Stone’s dad Jack introduced him to golf. Jack the club champion at Keller Golf Course in Maplewood and Phalen Golf Course in St. Paul.
“My dad was also the head golf coach at Tartan,” Stone said. “So it was always his dream, so before I was even born I was kind of born into a golf family.”
Stone graduated high school from Anoka and went on to graduate from the Coast Guard Academy in 1991.
He played golf in high school and went to sign up for the golf team with the Coast Guard before it was cut the year he arrived.
After serving five years in the Coast Guard, he and Kelly married and moved up to Crosslake to operate Crosswoods, a place his parents once owned.
“My parents came up here on their honeymoon in 1966 and they bought a piece of property where the mini golf is,” Stone said. “In the mid-80s, we converted to mini-golf, driving range and then we put in a short executive golf course. I think we opened that in 1985. So growing up I worked on that short golf course.”
In 1997, Stone built the first regulation 9-holes on the current Crosswoods property that his parents purchased a few years prior. In 2001, they ripped up the executive course across the street and turned that into a regulation 9-holes to form 18-holes — one nine on each side of County Highway 3.
“We knew we had an opportunity to take over the family business and if I stayed in the Coast Guard we knew we’d be moving every two to three years,” Stone said. “We thought it was best to raise a family in a settled place.”
In 2014, Stone split up the original 9-holes to create another 9-holes and make Crosswoods have 27-holes of regulation golf.
“Everything we have now is completely my design,” Stone said. “The last nine holes I built all by myself from the dirt work and everything.”
One of the signature holes at Crosswoods is hole 7 on the High Noon course. It’s a 535 yard par 5 with two greens — which wasn’t planned.
“In 1999, we had just this massive storm,” Stone said. “We lost 1,000 trees out here and turned it into a logging operation. At the time we only had the upper green on that hole. Once we got done clearing all the downed trees it almost looked like we cleared a fairway. I’d thought it’d be a great place to put a green down below there. So we built the lower green.”
Stone never thought Crosswoods would turn into what it has.
“From ‘97 to where we are now I could never imagine that this is what it would become,” Stone said. “Let alone have a restaurant, and everything that goes with it. In the meantime we rebuilt the mini-golf that my dad put in.”
It’s not just the regulation golf Stone has had his hands in. He designed the Whistling Wolf 18-hole mini-golf course in Crosslake to replace the original mini-golf course that his dad created less than a mile from the Crosswoods clubhouse. He also created the Dark Moon mini-golf course, a more challenging 9-hole mini-golf course behind the Whistling Wolf course.
Just last year, Stone built a third mini-golf course down in Austin, Texas.
“The one I built in Texas is a quarter-mile long and probably the longest mini-golf in the country and probably the most challenging as well,” Stone said.
Along with the mini-golf and 27-holes of regulation golf, Crosswoods also has a wedge course. The wedge course consists of only par 3 with the longest hole being 104 yards.
Stone’s two daughters, Savannah and Alex, also played golf at a high level. Savannah went on to play college golf at Concordia University, St. Paul and is currently the head golf coach of the Pequot Lakes girls team as well as being a certified PGA Professional. Alex currently plays golf for Augustana University and both are graduates of Pequot Lakes High School.
The goal for Stone is to pass the business off to his daughters eventually.
“Two years ago when my oldest daughter Savannah decided to go down the path to get her PGA certification she worked her first year as an assistant at Hazeltine National and then last year was an assistant at Braemar Golf Course and both Kelly and I supported her decision to work somewhere else,” Stone said. “This year she wanted to come back to Crosswoods and we were really excited about that. It’s kind of handing the torch off and helping her and her vision for where she thinks this complex can go.”
CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.