Golf in Minnesota is much more than just a few championship courses around Minneapolis. In fact, Minnesota is the biggest golf destination in the northern states. While not quite as big a Florida, Arizona, and South Carolina, Minnesota is not far behind. There’s a total of 508 golf courses (90% public courses) and about 900,000 golfers in the state. There are also 19 golf resorts. We’re heading to one of them today.
The Brainerd Lakes area, two hours north of the Twin Cities, is home to a number of fine golf resorts. Today’s destination is Grandview Lodge, with two 18-hole golf courses, The Pines and The Preserve. Our choice of the day was The Pines.
The Pines consists of three 9-hole tracks; Lakes, Woods, and Marsh. The course was designed by Joel Goldstrand and opened in 1990. Even though the names might make you think that the tracks are very different, that is not the case. We played the Lakes and the Woods, but they were really both forest courses, maybe with just a few more lakes and ponds on the Lakes track.
Being similar doesn’t mean that they are boring, far from it. The holes are quite different, and offer up some surprises. Already on the 5th holes you are met by a blind tee shot over a ledge in the fairway. You have better consult the course guide; if you hit your driver, you’re going to be in trouble. At the bottom of the hill is a small lake, with the green on the other side. A thinking man’s hole. And there are more surprises to come.
After you leave the 6th green and head for number seven, it is as if you have entered a different world. You suddenly find yourself in a clearing in the woods, with a small lake. In the middle of the lake there is a small, mysterious island, with some creepy looking dead trees. It is all like a fairy tale landscape. Maybe a troll lives out there on the island?
And then you see it; the green at the far edge of the lake that is your target. 135 meters away, with plenty of water between you and the flag. A stunningly beautiful hole, almost entirely managed by nature itself. The best hole on the course in my opinion.
It must have been quite a challenge for the architect to designs holes worthy of following number seven, but he managed to keep it interesting. The green at number nine is one example. More than 60 meters wide, but quite narrow. If you hit the wrong end, you will face a monster putt.
The Woods track ends right below the clubhouse veranda. The 18th green is surrounded by a small lake and a stream with a waterfall, all very scenic. A beautiful finish, to a nice course, one that I wouldn’t mind having as my “home course” for my golf vacation.
The clubhouse has a nice restaurant with some good after-golf food, but the real culinary treat is down at the lodge, a couple of minutes away by car or shuttle bus. There you’ll find several fine restaurants to choose from. The food was truly excellent, and the wine selection was exceptional; over 2,000 different wines from all over the world to pick from. Needless to say, our dining and wining lasted into the small hours.
Lodging at Grand View comes in many shapes and sizes. We stayed in a cabin a few minutes from the lodge, very suitable for one or two families traveling together. A two-story, four bedroom cottage complete with kitchen, dining room, living room, pool table, and a real home theater complete with leather movie theatre chairs. Your teenagers would be well taken care of while you were golfing.
As golfers, we didn’t have time to explore the other big draw at Grand View Lodge, the water activities. The lodge sits right next to an 800 meter sandy beach on a big, clear blue lake, suitable for anything from windsurfing to fishing. All in all, this makes Grand View a very nice family vacation spot.