Madden’s On Gull Lake – Big And Green
By Steve Dowling
Vacationers started traveling to Minnesota’s Lake Country back at the turn of the 20th century even though the trek was arduous via train and horse drawn livery. Tourists were drawn to the picturesque, unspoiled beauty of the area, including the stunningly beautiful Pine Beach Peninsula of Gull Lake.
In the midst of Central Minnesota’s Lake Country is a resort (not just a golf course) that can only be described as a “Classic”.
Webster’s Dictionary definition of “CLASSIC” – clas·sic [ klássik ] – top quality, always fashionable, serving as a standard of excellence
Madden’s on Gull Lake is a true Minnesota resort experience. Family owned and run since 1929, Madden’s is situated on a thousand acres of pines and hardwoods and miles of picturesque Gull Lake shoreline.
Whether your passion is golf or its just plain relaxation with a book, Madden’s will fit your needs. All guest rooms overlook either a golf course or Gull Lake. Activities include fishing, tennis, croquet, lawn bowling, basketball, badminton, biking and much more. A full marina offers all types of watercraft to get you out on the lake. The Spalon Montage Spa overlooks Gull Lake. Nights are filled with gourmet dining, luxurious accommodations and incredible lake and golf course vistas. Madden’s is considered a golf resort however, it is mor, it’s a great place to enjoy the great outdoors!
Madden’s on Gull Lake is the Midwest’s undisputed leader in the golf resort industry with 63 holes of incredible golf on a literal paradise of fairways spread out over the massive property!
The story of “The Classic” course goes back to the mid-1990s when the owners of Madden’s decided that although they already had 45 holes of exceptional golf, they needed a truly championship course. The centerpiece of the expansive golf complex is now the 18-hole Classic featuring 7,102 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 72. The course rating is 75.0 and it has a slope rating of 143 on bent grass. The Classic has the layout, beauty and challenge of a championship level course, with the casual atmosphere of a public course. Designed by Scott Hoffman, The Classic course opened in 1996. The Classic has received local, regional and national recognition from just about every golf magazine and rating bureau – too many to list!
Pine Beach East
Pine Beach East Course was designed in the late 1920s by James Dalgleish, a course designer who had come from Scotland. This historic course retains much of its 1920s charm albeit greens have been rebuilt, bunkers added as were water hazards. Statuesque oaks and pines line the fairways. There are only two sets of tees – from the back, this par-72 course measures 6,101 yards; from the forward, 5,415 yards. “This is a course where golfers can really go out and have a good time,” said Superintendent Scott Hoffman. Among the favorite holes on this course is an unusual par-6 on number six, which plays at 618 yards from the back tees and 467 yards from the forward.
Pine Beach West
Pine Beach West Course is a bit shorter than its sister course the Pine Beach East, a little over 5,000 yards from the back tees and about 4,500 from the forward, but it’s long in character. Those who play it love it for its true greens, its parkland surroundings and its three-hour rounds.
Brian Thuringer, President and Owner of Madden’s on Gull Lake has issued a challenge to any and all golfers to break par on the Pine Beach West Course. There are eight par 3s on the course and just two medium-length par 5s leading to the par 67. If anyone can shoot 67 or better on the West, Thuringer will pay for the round of golf. Thuringer doesn’t believe the West Course gets the play it should because it’s only a par 67 instead of the normal 72 found at other courses around the area. “It occurred to me that the game of golf was changing. Everything I was reading in the national golf publications was why golf wasn’t being played. One was because it takes too long to play a round and because it’s getting too hard. You can play the Pine Beach West in three hours and it’s challenging” said Thuringer. “Golf is supposed to be fun”, he insists. “People come in under par at the Pine Beach East Course and The Classic all the time,” Brian continued. “It’s very rare to see anyone come in under par on the West”.
Beginners and families are attracted to the “Social 9”. Playing to a par of 28, the Social 9 features eight par-3s and one par-4. The Social 9 is a great place for juniors and beginners to play or for more skilled players to work on their short-game skills. Golfers enjoy spectacular views of Steamboat Bay on Gull Lake.
BIGGER IS BETTER
For many Minnesota families, small resorts are no longer a desired option. Families on vacation are looking for all the comforts of home. Resort owners say their guests are demanding more activities and better accommodations. They say growing bigger is the only way to provide guests with what they want, and stay profitable. This state’s largest resort boasts 1,000 acres and provides guests with all the amenities including hotel-like suites that require key cards to unlock.
Thuringer says his resort is a success because it meets guests’ demands. Thuringer believes resorts have to give guests what they want, which isn’t easy, because guests want more activities and amenities than ever before. “People are very demanding of service and activities, much more so than they used to be. And I think that’s where keeping up is very important” Thuringer states.
Tourism officials say more and more, the key to success in the resort industry is size. A bigger resort is able to provide its guests with more to do. Madden’s is the biggest resort in Minnesota. It has room for almost 1,000 guests, and of course delivers 63 holes of golf. Quality is the No. 1 priority at Madden’s and they are always ready to introduce new recreational activities and to rebuild and refurbish accommodations to meet the standards of 21st century guests. The philosophy here is simply to provide the best that Minnesota has to offer.
GREEN AWARDS – Not Just Golf Awards
There is hardly a golf or meetings accolade, rating, or award Madden’s doesn’t have on the mantel. However, with today’s attention to preserving the environment there is unlikely another organization that is more environmentally conscience than Madden’s. Madden’s, through the hands-on leadership of Brian and Deb Thuringer, has invested in sustainability and “being green”.
The resort was awarded the “Minnesota Sustainable Tourism Award” at the Minnesota Office of Tourism’s Annual Conference last year. The Sustainable Tourism Award is presented annually to the person, company, or institution that supports outstanding efforts to sustain, protect, and enhance Minnesota’s environment while promoting its tourism markets. The recipient must demonstrate a clear connection between their endeavors and tourism and must also demonstrate exceptional performance in areas such as resource conservation, performance efficiency, and increased employee and guest awareness of sustainable tourism practices. “Management and staff here are passionate about protecting and preserving the land and lakes that have been entrusted to our care,” says Brian Thuringer.
Madden’s on Gull Lake was also the 2010 recipient of Golf Digest’s “Green Star Award”, in recognition of the resort’s green initiative program. The award was recently presented to Madden’s at a reception held in their honor at the New York City Yacht Club. The Green Star Award, established in 2009 to honor the most outstanding, innovative environmental leaders among America’s golf resorts, is meant to signify environmental achievement in every phase of a golf resort’s operation. In 2010 Madden’s was the only resort to meet the standards set by prior winners of Pebble Beach Resorts, Barton Creek Resort, Kiawah Island, and Sunriver Resort. Madden’s, the only course in North America to receive the Green Star Award in 2010 is just the fifth recipient ever!
A True Classic…The Resort, Not Just The Golf Course
Madden’s on Gull Lake is Big and Green, while catering to guests’ needs. It is the entire resort operation, not just The Classic Golf Course that meets Webster’s definition of “Classic” ~ top quality…always fashionable…serving as a standard of excellence!