The Classic at Madden's Resort

Classic adj.-belonging to the highest rank
 If you look up classic in the dictionary you will find 3 basic meanings. A. Belonging to the highest rank or class.  B. Serving as the established standard. C. Having lasting significance or worth.  All three serve as a perfect description of The Classic at Maddens Resort.
For many years now it has been recognized by various golf publications as one of the best in MN, and after my visit I can see why.  It truly deserves to be at the top of any Minnesotan’s must play list.  It is only about 2 hours north of the Twin Cities, which really isn’t that far, an easy day trip.  Upon arrival the staff is fantastic, very friendly and helpful.  Initially I was a little confused about getting into the pro shop, but once I got that figured out, everything went as smooth as could be.  I had some extra time to check out the putting green before my tee time and boy am I glad I did.  The green was lightning fast.  I’m guessing at least a 12 if not more.  The 3-tiered putting green was a good replica of what you would see on the course, maybe a bit more severe than the real greens.  As I proceeded to the first tee, the starter gave me some tips and sent me on my way.  They have a wide variety of tee boxes.  Looking at the scorecard I saw “tour” tee boxes, but didn’t see any markings for them on the tee boxes.  The starter said it was no problem for me to play those boxes; they just don’t put out markers to discourage people from playing that far back, since it is 7100+ yards.  I like this idea.  But I like to play all the way back since it gives me the best feel for a course and tests my game.

   The opening hole is a great par 5.  It is very wide off the tee and slightly uphill then it drops down to a well-guarded green.  I don’t think going for it in 2 is a very good option.  The green is perched out near all kinds of junk and water.  The front side has a great collection of short and long par 4s, great par 5s and some tricky yet beautiful par 3s.  A couple of holes really stood out on the front side.  Hole 3 is a beautiful short par 4 that has water all down the right side; from the back tees it is much longer and tougher.   There is kind of a long tree near the corner that you need to navigate on the approach to another peninsula green.  The 5th hole is most interesting.  It is a medium length par 4 that doglegs to the left.  As you drive straight away the fairway funnels the balls down to the left.  The approach shot is the most interesting I think I’ve ever played.  There are 2 greens.   A teeny-tiny green short and left over some wetlands, while a large green is longer but straight over the wetlands.  I decided for the review to play to both greens and see what happened.  I made par on the little green and bogey on the big green.  I’m not sure I would play to the small green every time, but it was fun to do both.  The 7th hole might be one of the most beautiful par 3s around.  It just has a north woods beauty to go along with a brute of a design.  It is almost an island green with almost no bail out and from the back tee playing into the wind it is long too.  A solid shot to the center of the green is the ideal play.  No need to mess with the edges.
   The turn takes you right by the club house and snack shack, which is all ready to go to serve your food and drink needs.  When I arrived at the 10th hole there was a severe back up, 2 in the fairway, 2 on the tee and 3 on deck.  I decided to join the 3-some.  They were some nice guys and good golfers.  For whatever reason my game unfortunately fell apart.  I play with strangers all the time, but I don’t know what happened if fatigue combined with caffeine jitters caused every tee shot to go straight left was the problem, but it was not pretty.  The course on the other hand was beautiful.  At least I could keep enjoying that.  My putting and chipping survived so I still kept the score respectable.  The 10th hole is a great par 5.  Plenty of room off the tee as it works its way down toward a well guarded green.  It is reachable in two as it plays down hill.  The 11th hole is also a fantastic design.  I wish I would have played it from the “tour” tees.  The group now was playing the blacks so I went along with it.  But the tour tee is set back 75+ yards making this a strong par 4 instead of a short one.  A couple of my other favorites on the back nine have to be the long par 5, hole 14.  It is really long and I can’t envision anyone, other than a Long Driver getting home in 2.  It is just a beast.  The next hole, the par 3 15th is also a solid test too.  You hit through a narrow opening to a well-bunkered green.  Thankfully there is more room to the right than it looks.  The finishing hole is a solid up hill par 4 that brings you right up to the clubhouse.
 The conditions of this course were better than many privates I have played.  Every fairway was perfect and every green was like carpet and fast.  The overall design is truly a classic.  There is a wide variety of holes and for being such a secluded north woods like setting it was still walkable, which you don’t always find at resort courses.

   If you are going to pick one course in the Brainerd area to play, pick the Classic it is just as it’s name says a classic that deserves the highest rankings.

For more information:

Quick Hits
+Perfect Conditions
+Awesome Layout
+North Woods Scenery


Pine Beach East at Madden’s Resort
Getting in a quick fun round.
Maddens resort has more than just the Classic (which is the best by the way) but it also has a couple more resort like courses, Pine Beach East and Pine Beach West.  The East is a more traditional resort course, while the West is more of a short course.  I had time to squeeze in the East course.  It starts and finishes all right out in front of the main lodge.  It is not the longest or the toughest course, but just a fun layout.  It is not as serious with a little bit more relaxed rules and atmosphere. 

They only have white or red tees.  They also allow a little more freedom on apparel and cart use. (They had a 10-some out having a good time).  While it isn’t going to blow you away, there are some fun holes.  The final 4 holes of the front nine are really solid holes.  The 6th hole is a par 6.  Yep that’s right straight and long at 620 yards.  You would think it should be easy to get birdie maybe even eagle, but there are some dangers with little fescue mounds and some water up by the green.  The 7th hole is a short par 5 that can be reached in 2.  There isn’t a lot of danger so it is worth giving it a try.  The 8th hole is a picturesque par 3 that drops down to the green.  The par 4 9th hole is actually a really good hole.  You tee off from an elevated tee that looks like you are hitting down a chute.  The green then is back up a little toward the lodge and is fairly small.

   The back nine has a bunch of solid holes too.  The 11th is a short par 4 that is drivable with just the right bend on this slight dogleg right.  The 15th hole is a great par 5.  It is reachable in 2 as you tee off into a valley like fairway with banking on each side and the hitting slightly uphill to the green.  The 16th hole is also a great looking par 4.  It is short and almost reachable off the tee.  It plays over a deep grass valley to a nicely guarded green.


   What I liked best about this course was the simple straightforward layout and the speed at which one could play.  I played 18 holes in 1.5 hours.  I could have been done sooner if I didn’t have to navigate around the 10-some have a fun time.  The conditions were quite nice.  It was no Classic, but the greens were smooth, not too fast, but nice.  The fairways were well maintained and just added this year (I was told) some fescue clumps and mounds.  They really make the course look nice.

  So it might not be a must play in the Brainerd area, but it is a fun quick round that all ages and skill levels can enjoy. Since they don’t take it too serious out there, you can relax and just have fun.