Golden Eagle Golf Club – Mission Accomplished
By E. Nolan
Take a look around. This is really going to be good.” Whether it was Bruce McIntosh (owner and man with the plan) saying it to his co-designer Mike Morley, or Mike (14 year PGA TOUR Vet and course designer extraordinaire) saying it to “Mac”, the message was concise and clear. “Let’s not mess this up.”
“This” was Golden Eagle Golf Club before it was Golden Eagle Golf Club… before the fairways and green seeds were sewn… before the first roar of machinery. “This” was Golden Eagle every day of construction since that first one… every day celebrating the opportunity to build, or enhance, the canvas they’d been given. His passion transparent, Bruce smiles and explains those first days. “When Mike and I toured the property we found at least 18 perfect sites for par 3’s, and could easily have created the most scenic par 3 course east of, well (say Bandon, Oregon) anywhere!” (Close enough.) But we knew the land we had could also be used to build the prettiest championship course in the state, and (with so many perfect channels to build in) we were absolutely confident we could make it playable and fun for everyone.” Prettiest course in the state, huh? That’s a high bar. (One that typically only a small few could reach around here.) But let me tell you they DIDN’T miss. Golden Eagle is certainly beautiful. And absolutely playable. For my wife and I, both. Driving down the beautiful passage towards the exit my wife said what I’m sure most golfers say departing here. “I can’t wait to play that again.”
Turns out, that was Mac’s plan all along. Playability captained his crusade since that very first day. For men. For women. For everyone. Sure, people were going to come up for the beauty. So close to Brainerd, minutes from the popular town of Crosslake… anyone who knew the scenic knockout this area was, they’d be up to check it out. But it was very important to Bruce that they not only come, but (like us) want to come back. “I didn’t want anyone to feel beat up or frustrated here. If you look at many of our designs, we molded and mounded our fairways to bring stray balls back towards the middle whenever possible. We wanted you to have as many open, flat second and third shots, free from trees, hazards and general setbacks.” Mission accomplished. (No need for Tom Cruise.)
On our round we discovered elevated tee shot after elevated tee shot off of large, level tee boxes, allowing us to watch our ball soar off the tee, sail through the air and land out in the open (seemingly further than we ever hit it) time and time again. There were bunkers scattered throughout but so perfectly placed that you could essentially use them as guidance beacons. They served to indicate the path or preferred routing to each hole, and/or kept you from losing your ball in several points of (otherwise) no return. Mike will tell you that Bruce was always looking out for the higher handicapper. Bruce will tell you Mike always wanted to add the elements of risk/reward (of which there are plenty if you want them). That they pulled off both, the challenge and the fairness, so seamlessly is a compliment to both of them. And then there’s the service.
You get the feeling, at Golden Eagle, like you’re at a private club and not a private club in the middle of a city, or a club where you have to be someone (or know someone) other than yourself but a club in the middle of the most beautiful of country, where the privacy isn’t maintained by walls and costly memberships, but by a purity and love of the game. By curtains of tall trees, deflecting the wind, and directing (or redirecting) golf balls down colorful natural corridors. A place where all should, can, and typically do, feel completely at home.
They now offer two “memberships” for regulars (of which there are many) “5 and 7 day plans” both with cart included. They’ve expanded their lunch and dinner menus this year (even opening now for breakfast) and Golden Eagle partners with Whitefish Lodge and Pine Peaks in nearby Crosslake for great Stay & Play opportunities. Taking it a step further, Bruce has always offered special incentive rates to guests at Breezy Point, Grand View and other Brainerd hosts. “Just call. We’ll make it happen!”
He and Mike built this place for you, whatever your skill level or passion for the game may be. “We imitated many of the great designers in the game (including Donald Ross, his favorite) to create this one masterpiece.” The great value of the round, attention to detail, and generous assist from Mother Nature, make this a must visit for every Minnesota golfer. Forgive the double meaning… but “You Are Welcome.”