Cragun’s Legacy Courses – Pristine Golf In The Brainerd Lakes Area
By Gordy Ginsberg
Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd is the only Minnesota location that can boast of having 54 holes of Robert Trent Jones, Jr. championship golf. Two 18 hole courses (Dutch 18 and Bobby’s 18) and a reversible 9 hole course make up the Legacy Courses at Cragun’s. In addition to providing great golf, these courses have been granted Signature Sanctuary Status with Audubon International. The Signature status is reserved only for courses meeting rigorous and extensive natural resource management plans. The legacy Courses are the first in Minnesota and only the second nationwide to achieve this designation.
Set on over 300 acres of woods, wetlands and lakeshore, the two 18 hole courses provide challenging golf for all levels of players. More than many of the other courses you may play, I found that choosing to play from the proper distance was the key to an enjoyable day at Cragun’s. I played my round from the Blue tees which measure in at just over 6200 yards. While this may not sound long to many of you the proof is in the pudding.
Like almost all Trent Jones Jr. courses, a premium is put on shot selection, strategy and placement. Many of the holes offer numerous routes to the green with risk/reward shots to be found in abundance. If you have played a Trent Jones course such as Edinburgh USA in Brooklyn Park then you also are aware that perception and deception play a big part in his designs. The island fairway 17th at Edinburgh looks to be a small target when in actuality it is one of the widest on the course. The same holds true for many of the shots at the Legacy. You will come across holes with split fairways making you choose a route before you swing. The 14th hole on the Dutch course has two greens! Declare your choice ahead of time and hang on. And like all good Trent Jones courses, a myriad of tee boxes offers up just the right look for all players. Can you believe the 13th hole has nine tee boxes? That’s right, nine.
My round on Dutch Legacy was very enjoyable and quite challenging on a windy day. Over the course of 18 holes you will be faced with drives over wetlands to rolling fairways, wonderful par threes and many different “looks” including wooded, lakeside and marshland holes. Perhaps it is the variety of hole designs and shot selections that make the Legacy courses so interesting. This is a course designed as much for “thinkers” as it is for long hitters. One of the best parts of the layout is that it is unencumbered by homes or other development crowding the course. This is golf at its natural best. This is why you come to the Brainerd Lakes area.
A day of play at Cragun’s can only be topped off with your favorite refreshment and/or lunch and dinner at their beautiful clubhouse. Over 35,000 square feet in size, the clubhouse is home to the Legacy Bar and Restaurant which offers outstanding views of the 9th hole and 10th tee from inside or out on the patio area. Of course you will also find a fully stocked pro shop here with everything you need in the way of clothing and equipment. The balance of the facility is designed to host large events and tournaments with seating for 250 people. An upper level is home to the Audubon Room, fireplace lounge and member facilities.
Make sure to include the Legacy courses at Cragun’s Resort on your next golf outing to the Brainerd Lakes Area. You will love the challenging golf, excellent course conditions, the secluded and upscale atmosphere, the quality of service and all of the first class facilities that make for a great day on the links. Whether you play Dutch Legacy, Bobby’s Legacy or the reversible nine hole course, I guarantee you will have the championship north woods golf experience you have always wished for.