What’s New In Brainerd Lakes? Cragun’s Resort And Tom Lehman Are On A Roll

By Tim Cotroneo






In a northern Minnesota golf region known for “can you top this” achievements, Cragun’s Resort called on the state’s most heralded golfer to add another jewel to their crown. During the past four years, Tom Lehman has designed, renovated, and created 45 new golf holes on a parcel of land that Cragun’s couldn’t wait to reveal to the golfing public.

Cragun’s Resort, Golf & Conference has long been a magnet for golfers seeking a destination to get away from it all. The Brainerd Lakes area is rich in world class golf layouts, and this 83 year-old destination, pristinely situated on Gull Lake, has served as an amazing retreat for golfers looking to combine their favorite sport with water activities, great dining, and supreme accommodations.

The Lehman 18 opened to rave reviews in 2023, and this 7,400 yard layout promises to serve as a “must play” for golfers looking to take on Brainerd Lakes’ best. What’s great is this sensory blend of woods, wetlands, elevation changes, and epic vistas isn’t the only game in town when staying at Cragun’s.

Lehman All-In On Cragun’s

When Lehman was approached with the idea of creating a new golf course at Cragun’s, he was surprised to see the 300-plus acres that would become his blank canvas. The former Ryder Cup team captain was handed the keys to arguably the finest parcel on Cragun’s sprawling 800-acres of real estate. Lehman was given the task of creating something fresh and bold to complement Cragun’s existing 36 Dutch Legacy golf holes.

The Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed Dutch Legacy courses have stockpiled many awards since opening in the late ‘90s. The Lehman Design Group was presented the opportunity to not only design a new course, but also renovate Cragun’s Legacy Courses. There was also the bonus of adding an additional nine holes to be inserted into a total rotation of 54 holes.

Cragun’s and Lehman agreed that the new course would deliver a playability focus with generous fairways and subtle contours that would prove beautiful but forgiving. Lehman believed this design would align with a growing-the-game mentality, and he immediately visualized an 18-hole layout that added an exciting dimension to the Legacy Courses nestled into a Northwoods setting that is second to none.

Minnesota’s Newest Golf Course

In the late summer of 2023, golfers playing The Lehman 18 layout discovered that Stephens Lake serves as the centerpiece to the new design. Over the course of one’s round, golfers enjoy a journey of head-turning views, bent grass, woodlands, and white sand bunkers.

The Lehman 18 front side features three Par 5s and a picturesque 178-yard Par 3, 6th hole. There is even more visual artistry on hand at the 8th hole green with a 180-degree view of the lake.

The back nine begins with a 407-yard cliffhanger, thanks to a right to left contour that encourages golfers to aim right and take advantage of the rolling terrain. The Par 3, 217-yard 14th hole plays to an amphitheater of trees. This hole is a crowd pleaser in the fall when the Minnesota colors are on full display. The 390-yard, 16th hole is a go for the gusto reachable Par 4 over water. You’ll discover that risk and reward is a Lehman strategy hallmark.

Lehman’s Newest Nine, Best of Brainerd Package, And Amenities Beyond Golf

Know that the Lehman redesign is still in overdrive. The yet to open Red nine began construction in July of 2023. The hope is a sneak peek of the new nine holes in the fall of 2024. Next year, Cragun’s will offer a unique golf bonanza. “Once the new Red nine is in place, golfers will have the opportunity to play four distinct 18-hole experiences, all at one resort,” Cragun’s Director of Golf Jack Wawro said. Talk about Brainerd Lakes golf utopia!

The Brainerd Lakes Area is known for remarkable golf courses. Cragun’s most popular golf package is the Best of Brainerd Lakes Golf. “We are the only resort in the area that books lodging at Cragun’s Resort, Golf & Conference Center, sets up tee times at Cragun’s Legacy Courses, and also provides the opportunity to play at other area courses. We’ll arrange custom reservations for groups of eight or more. In addition to Cragun’s championship courses, our packages can even include The Gravel Pit, Deacon’s, and Grandview,” Cragun’s Marketing Manager Carrie Scarfino said.

Not everyone who comes to Cragun’s is a golfer. What’s great is that Cragun’s is an amazing destination for fishing, water sports, pickleball, and volleyball. One of most popular evening attractions is sunset cruising on Gull Lake aboard Cragun’s 65-foot luxury yacht, The North Star.

See Golf’s Future Superstars at Cragun’s

For a resort that is 83-years-young and counting, it’s amazing how this vacation treasure continues to innovate, improve, and entertain. For the third year running, The Dutch Course will host the CRMC Championship (presented by Gertens) August 25 – September 1. This year’s event follows the 2023 version garnering Tournament of the Year honors. The CRMC Championship is a chance to glimpse PGA superstars in the making. Jake Knapp, the 2022 CRMC winner, recently won the 2024 Mexican Open. 

Life Is Great On Gull Lake

With all that’s new at Cragun’s, sometimes it’s the perennial favorites that we hold most dear. Before and after your round at The Lehman 18 or Dutch Legacy courses, there’s nothing better than a meal and a cool drink on the Legacy Grille patio. Watch the golfers approach the Dutch course’s spectacular 18th green and wonder, “How could Cragun’s and Tom Lehman ever top this?” Stay tuned…. https://www.cragunsgolf.com