Grand View Lodge in the Brainerd Lakes region of northern Minnesota has two 18-hole golf courses, The Pines and The Preserve. The Pines has three nine hole tracks; Lakes, Woods, and Marsh. For this review we played Lakes and Woods on a sunny late September afternoon.
The course was designed by Joel Goldstrand and opened in 1990 as part of a vacation resort, Grand View Lodge. The Lodge is a family friendly resort, where many activities center around the beautiful beach and lake just below the main lodge. There you also find several fine restaurants, and lodging in the lodge itself, but also in many cabins and cottages spread out in the surrounding forest landscape. The golf courses are a few minutes away from the lodge, accessible by car or shuttle bus.
The course is a typical forest course, with most of the holes isolated from each other by mature pine trees. This provides for a very quiet golfing experience, you can sometimes play several holes without ever seeing another golf group. If you play in late afternoon, you are more likely to encounter deer than other golfers.
The major challenges are (naturally) the pine trees themselves. Even though you think “I can hit between those trees, lots of space” they tend to be in the way more often than not. So straying too far off the fairway results in having to come out sideways, and lose a stroke.
On the Lakes track, there’s also plenty of water. Most notable are hole five, a short par 4 where you hit blindly over a sharp drop-off in the fairway, with the approach over a small lake in front of a green protected on all other sides by pine trees. You need to study the course guide carefully, as you will end up in the water on your tee shot unless you pick the right club.
The signature hole on the Lakes is number seven, a short par 3 at the far end of a fairy tale lake. The whole setup is nothing less than magical. I could have stayed all day at this hole, just taking in the environment and landscape. And if you are not careful, you will stay a bit extra, looking for your ball at waters edge, the green is not easy to find with your tee shot.
Finishing up the first nine is a par three with a very long but narrow green, perpendicular to your tee shot. If you end up at the wrong end of the green, this could easily be the longest putt you’ll face all season.
The Woods track is nice and peaceful with a few very nice holes. The culmination is the approach to the last hole, surrounded by water and situated just below the club house terrace. Your putting skills will be scrutinized.
The course is suitable to players of all handicaps, and would be a fine course for a golf vacation. In combination with the lodge and all the activities it offers, it is perfect for a family outing.
The Pines at Grand View Lodge
Course design & layout7.5/10
Greens design & layout7.5/10
Club house and facilities7.5/10
Restaurant and food (at lodge)9.0/10
Value for money9.0/10
- Beautiful forest course
- Very quiet
- Good for all handicaps
- Excellent restaurant
- Good for families and golf groups
- Many similar holes