Grand View Lodge
By R.J. Smiley
Grand View Lodge, listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, is located on the north end of Gull Lake near Brainerd. It has been the home of great vacation experiences since 1919. Owned and operated by the Cote Family, the resort is in a continuous state of metamorphosis providing what the current generation expects while retaining the log cabin charm of the early 1900’s.
Today, The Brainerd Lakes Area is known throughout the world as one of the best golf destination anywhere. It has not always been that way! Before 1990, Madden’s Resort was “The Golf Resort” in Minnesota. Madden’s had two nice, player friendly resort courses and boasted of a 600 yard, par 6 hole. Breezy Point had the Traditional course and was developing Whitebirch. The area also had a few 9-hole resort courses including the Garden course at Grand View Lodge. When you vacationed up north it was for fshing – golf was an after thought.
Fred Boos, who married into the Cote family, changed the face of golf forever in the Brainerd Lakes Area in 1990 when he brought in Joel Goldstrand, the hottest golf architect in Minnesota, to build a championship golf course. Goldstrand was given a virgin piece of wilderness and told to build the best golf course in Minnesota. The Pines, now 27 holes (Lake & Woods were opened in 1990 and Marsh was opened in 1993), became exactly that. Fred proved that golf could attract vacationers “Up North” and that they would pay a premium green fee to play a wonderful golf course.
Over the next few years Madden’s added its signature course, The Classic, one of the best tests of golf anywhere. Then Dutch Cragun, owner of Cragun’s Resort, gave Trent Jones Jr. a fabulous piece of property where the Junior Jones master-mined 36-holes of picture-book perfect golf. Later came The Preserve, a Mike Morley masterpiece; followed by Deacon’s Lodge, one of Arnold Palmer’s best. Finally Bruce McIntosh, of Olympic Hockey fame, teamed with Mike Morley to create Golden Eagle. Breezy Point continues to improve Whitebirch, which offers a challenging lower priced alternative. On any given day in the summer the Brainerd airport is lined up with privately owned jets. Any guess what the owners are doing?
Fred Boos, the fox that he is, expanded Grand View’s stable of golf courses when they purchased The Preserve and Deacon’s Lodge from the developers. Now the Grand View Lodge boasts three thoroughbreds, each with a different pedigree, ranked among the best golf courses in the country.
In a recent poll, readers of Conde Nast Traveler, the world’s primer travel magazine, ranked Grand View Lodge among the best 125 golf resorts in the world and ranked Grand View Lodge sixth among the top ten golf resorts in the United States. What an honor for Grand View Lodge and the forward thinking Fred Boose.
THE PINES was the first golf course in Minnesota to receive a five-star rating from Golf Digest. Joel Goldstrand, who has designed 80 golf courses, is extremely proud of all the national recognition The Pines has received. Most golfers, who have played many of Goldstrand’s courses, feel that The Pines is among his very best work. First time visitors get a feeling for the course as they drive into the parking lot at The Pines. The narrow, curvy, tree lined, entry road causes your subconscious to draw a mental picture of the golf yet to come.
The three nines at The Pines are obviously siblings; with relatively narrow fairways that do not contain the humps and rolls of many modern courses. The greens, though not flat, do not have dinosaurs buried in them making a routine two-putt not impossible. The Pines is a golf course designed to make the recreational golfer feel at ease, but when played from the tips, it presents a real test to the low handicapper.
There are two holes at The Pines where the camera buff in your group will have a field day. The first is the shortish par 3, #7 on the Woods nine. This slightly down hill hole with a long narrow green that looks only a few yards wide has a pond on the left and a steep grassy bank on the right. Even regular players enjoy the changing look of this hole as the shadows from the huge pines, which make up the background, paint a kaleidoscope of shadow patterns. They are also happy to score a 3. The ninth hole on the Marsh nine sits directly in front of the clubhouse. This, 3-shot, par five features a green that is basically an island accented with flowers. Pictures are plentiful from any angle. Many a good round has ended in a watery death on this true signature hole.
THE PRESERVE was the dream of Dan Helbling who is an artist with earth moving equipment. Dan secured the property near Nisswa, and then hired Mike Morley, Minot, ND architect to design his dream course. Together Dan and Mike labored to produce one of the fairest and most straightforward courses ever created. When you stand on the clubhouse deck and look down onto the 1st and 10th fairways you will feel the elevated tee and elevation changes that are the signature of The Preserve. Morley, a former tour player, is known for elevated tees that give golfers a pleasant visual experience standing on the tee. Most of the greens are elevated, some severely. First time players at The Preserve quickly get into a rhythm of playing from an elevated tee to a fairway below then back up to an elevated green. This pattern starts on the first hole, a reachable (in two), par 5. The tee, located just below the pro shop, gives a spectacular look at the valley fairway, some 40 feet below. The green is carved into a wooded hilltop some 30 feet above, and to the right of the fairway level. The pattern ends on the par 5, 18th. With a background of the clubhouse, perched on the hilltop, high above the green, the tee shot might be the prettiest you will ever play. But the approach shot to the multi-tiered, Pinehurst-style green will make even the best players weak-kneed. Once you play a Morley course you will appreciate the style.
DEACON’S LODGE was created by Sienna Corporation; a Twin Cities based residential community and golf course development company. Deacon’s Lodge was the first Arnold Palmer designed golf course in Minnesota. The golf course runs over and around lakes, ponds, hills and marshes. The feature that most resort golfers like the best is that the fairways are very wide and inviting. However, the closer you get to the green the more the trouble comes into play. Deacon’s Lodge is a showcase of all the experience “The King” and his talented staff brings to golf. The course features long tough holes. It has short cute holes. There are split fairways. Deacon’s even has an island fairway. Many golfers feel that Deacon’s provides the most enjoyable golf experience in the Brainerd Lakes Area.
In my mind playing golf at Grand View Lodge courses, and the other beauties around Brainerd is like trying to choose Miss America. They are all beautiful.