Breezy Point Resort – Beauty And The Breeze
By E. Nolan
When GolfWeek releases their “Best Courses You Can Play in Each State” list, everyone flips to his or her own state of residence to see where each course ranks. At Breezy Point a great deal has changed from the release of last year’s list. They went from not having a course in the Top 20 in Minnesota, to having a course in the Top 3! Whoa… what?
Yes. Over the winter Breezy Point completed the acquisition of Deacon’s Lodge, the Arnold Palmer masterpiece (recently ranked his 3rd best design in the world by Links Magazine) and final piece in an otherwise complete puzzle for the uber-popular resort. It almost isn’t fair. They already had so much going for them.
Breezy Point Resort is located on Big Pelican Lake in the Brainerd Lakes area. With condos, cabins, a lodge, the Breezy Inn and a variety of other sleeping accommodations they have the style and space for any need or taste. And speaking of taste, they have food for each palette, with four restaurants (two on-site, two at their golf courses). Antlers, located in the Whitebirch course clubhouse, offer “country club style dining” and panoramic views of the golf course. The Marina II is their lakeside “fine dining” gem on Breezy Bay, with steaks and seafood. Palmer’s Grille, at Deacon’s Lodge, is the new favorite spot for breakfast and lunch. And finally their Dockside Lounge is perhaps the most popular hangout on site every evening, with family friendly American bar and grill food, and plenty of nightly entertainment. The Dockside Lounge features live music 6-7 nights a week, depending on season, with plenty of space and reasons for dancing, no cover charge and acts like their “Memories of Elvis” show that have gained statewide recognition.
For further daytime entertainment Breezy Point has something for every level of energetic being, from sunbathers to watersporters. (Not a word, but should be.) The beach is often packed with people swimming and/or playing volleyball, horseshoes, etc. There are many trails for biking and hiking and a variety of boats for cruising, amusing, and Little Big Towning… (I meant “Pontooning.”) And then there’s the golf. Again, there’s something for everyone of every skill level here. They have a short resort course (Traditional), a championship course that has always been a phenomenal value (Whitebirch), and now they have one of the premier courses in the state (Deacon’s Lodge). As 1-2-3 punches go, those are some pretty big hits. They’ve always been the most economically friendly (bang-for-your-buck) Stay & Play option in the Brainerd Lakes area, and they have no intent to mess with that success. But they’ve never had that heavyweight to rival the best of their competition. And now they do. Head’s up!
The Traditional Course is located on the main resort property. Its fairways have been walked by some of the biggest names in golf history, Les Bolstad (regionally) and Walter Hagen (worldwide) among them. It’s a course that doesn’t care how far you CAN hit the ball. It’s all about how straight you do. Genial General Manager and Golf Director, Mark Johnson, admits the course isn’t for everyone. “This course is for people who can hit the broad side of a barn.” (Perfect for me then, as I somehow always seem to. Perhaps he meant intentionally.) He continues his description. “It’s got some really tight forest-lined fairways, small slick greens, and plenty of squirrels.” (So that’s what took my ball on those eight holes.) Anyone of any age can play here. Plenty of grandparents take their grandkids out here to teach them the game. Full-family friendly fun!
Whitebirch Golf Course is carved just West of the main resort property. It was actually the first championship golf design in the entire Brainerd Lakes Area, and most would agree it has greatly improved with age. Stretched out at just over 6,700 yards, with huge greens and plenty of elevation change, mixed with plenty of forest, fescue, bunkers, marsh and lakes, you get smaller samples here of everything you’ll find in greater supply at Deacon’s Lodge. Mark Johnson considers this the perfect “in between” in their course quiver. “It’s not huge. It’s not intimidating. There’s plenty of space for your ball to safely explore, plenty of forgiveness off the tee, just enough challenge, and more than enough fun. So many people love this place for its beauty, and it seems to have just the right amount of everything you look for in a round of golf.” Well put. In fact, there’s a duo of holes on the back that are so serene, so beautiful, you’re likely to find yourself mumbling some form of praise.
Deacon’s Lodge, simply put, is “something else.” For those few who would argue that Deacon’s is “too tricked up”, I would counter that it’s “also too beautiful then.” Deacon’s has so many curves, so many carries, so much vivacity, distinction and creativity. It is hands down my favorite course in Brainerd and definitely deserving of its Top 3 statewide ranking. Mark Johnson is nearly at a loss for words when asked to describe what it means to the resort to add this beautiful beast to their arsenal. The ear-to-ear smile pretty much says it all. And whatever it doesn’t, I will. Deacon’s Lodge is so remote, so serene, so perfectly routed and so well conditioned. It’s an oasis in an oasis, more paradise less parking lot. It’s a course you play and want to play again, that day and the next, a round that sticks with you for the many, many highlights. I would definitely agree that “playing conditions determine everything here” and the last three times I’ve played it, it’s been absolutely flawless. So much so that it’s hard to imagine there’d be any discussion of its merits at all. There are so many great holes here that I can’t pick a runaway favorite. But #17 is an instant classic in anyone’s book, a little downhill par 3 towards the lake, so picturesque and special that Arnold Palmer considers it one of his 18 best holes in the world.
That’s a lot of superlatives. Here’s a few more. The front nine has one of my favorite starting holes in the entire state, perfectly marrying a memorable tee shot, approach shot and entertaining green. Holes 3-7 are each unforgettable in their own right, and the back offers just as many thrills. Each hole of 10-12 offers risk reward carry opportunities and tee shot views you better have your camera for. And 16/17 caps off one of the most noteworthy rounds of golf you’ll ever play. If you think that’s hyperbole, I feel sorry for you. You probably hate puppies too.
Credibility is as important to me as it is to Breezy Point. They want you to believe in their value just as I want you to believe in my own (values). As a national golf writer I’ve experienced rounds, many times that were nowhere near the descriptive highlights they were promoted as. It has often jaded my opinion on golf reviews, particularly those that heap on the praise. My editor knows I won’t write about courses I don’t believe in, and fortunately doesn’t ask me to. But I’ll stake my entire reputation on courses like Deacon’s. And you both can, and should, build your entire vacation around Breezy Point Resort. There is plenty here for everyone, and odds are you’ll get more than you expected. And who doesn’t value that?