A Worthy Tribute To Dad
 We all have inspirations in our lives and people who have influenced us greatly.  For many a golfer, our number one influence is dad.  That happens to be the case for Arnold Palmer too, thus he created a golf course as a tribute to his father, Deacon’s Lodge in the Brainerd Lakes area of MN.

Now the Brainerd Lakes area is scattered with courses.  Deacon’s lodge is part of the Breezy Point complex and is near the northern most edge of the area.  It is about a 2.5 to 3 hour drive from the Twin Cities.  But just as you hope for after driving 150 miles away from the hustle and bustle of the cities you reach the seclusion of Deacon’s Lodge.  Set back out of town, away from almost everything.

Upon arrival the staff is really friendly and helpful on getting you set up on the course and pointing you in the right direction for, checking in, hitting the range and practicing some putts.  Once you reach the first tee a real starter gets you prepared and ready for your round.

The first tee gets you prepared for what you are going to see for the majority of the round.  Big sweeping fairways, some bunkers scattered here and there, forest surrounding each hole and a forced carry.  While the first hole isn’t overly difficult, it can be intimidating to see some 150 yards of valley and junk in front of you.  Now depending on the tee box you choose, those forced carries get smaller and less intimidating as you move up.  From the back tees there wasn’t a single forced carry that was too much.  I think the most was 225.  If you are playing the course at 7000+ yards you need to be able to carry the ball 225 with your driver so it really isn’t an issue.  But even as you shorten the distance, there are golfers who are intimidated by any forced carry, even if they have no problems with it.  But the group in front of me was 3 ladies and they didn’t have any problems and seemed to have an enjoyable round.

The front nine is a great collection of holes with long par 4s and shorter ones, a longer par 3 and really short one and a couple of solid par 5s.  I loved the variety.  I felt like I got to play almost all the clubs in my bag on just the front nine.  To me that is a mark of a well-designed course.  There were a couple of holes that stood out.  The par 4 5th hole is a strong hole that doglegs to the right and down toward the water.  The green sits in a giant bowl.  It is visually a beautiful hole.  The very short par 3 6th hole has a nice large undulating green.  It is a fun little hole.  The 9th hole is a great risk reward par 5.  With a well-struck drive you can get home in 2, but the approach is narrow and needs to fly some wetland area and stay short of more wetlands.  I opted for the safe 3 shot approach and walked away with an easy par.  The turn brings you by the clubhouse allowing for a quick pit stop and food break if needed.

When you reach the backside you get another forced carry.  This tee box is connected to hole 1’s tee box.  I was surprised how the markers were pointed, straight into the trees.  It was the only hole like this, but odd.  But it didn’t really make much difference because it was obvious where the hole needed to be played.  The back nine again was designed with a great variety of holes.  The backside didn’t have any short par 3s, but it had a drivable par 4 along with a solid collection of par 5s and longer par 3s.  A couple of holes stood out again.  The 11th is the drivable par 4.  It takes about a 260-yard carry over wetlands from an elevated tee.  The guy I was paired up with went for it and cleared; I decided the safe play was in my best interest.  The fairway goes out to the right and doglegs left into the green.  So the option of eagle, easy par or big score is all possible on this hole.  The par 3 17th is one of best looking holes on the course.  It even made Arnold Palmers favorite 18 in all his designs.  It is a long par 3 with lake behind and wetlands right and left.  The green is raised and domed.  It is a solid test as the round draws to a close.  The 18th hole is a strong finishing par 5.  It is going to be tough to get home in 2 especially with the approach.  There is plenty of room off the tee and lots of room for a lay up but the fairway gets very narrow by the green and there is a huge valley/pit to the right front of the green.  Thankfully it is all grass, but chipping 20 feet up is still not easy.

The overall conditions of the course were perfect.  The greens were smooth and moderately fast.  The fairways were tight and the rough was penal, but not impossible.  You could tell that this course had a great staff to go along with a great design.  One of the most interesting features of this course has to be as you look back on each hole.  It might be the most beautiful layout looking from green to tee.  The forced carries really make it picturesque.  (I really should have taken my pictures facing that direction more)

Arnold Palmer did his dad proud with this course and the staff does Arnold proud with their work.  If you are in the Brainerd Lakes area this is a must play.  If you live in the Twin Cities, MN, you need to head north a few hours and play this at least once.  Even those from outside of MN.  If you are looking for a great golf destination, Deacon’s Lodge at Breezy Pointe has great deals along with 2 other courses.  While it might be one of the more expensive courses in the state, it is well worth it.  

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Quick Hits
+Awesome Hole Variety
+Beautiful Scenery
+Outstanding Conditions