Jason Scott Deegan

Senior Staff Writer

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. He is a regular contributor with Athlon Sports and PGA Magazine. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. His favorite golf destinations are Ireland and New Zealand, along with Michigan and California, where he lives with his wife and two children. Jason rarely touched a golf club until his college days at Eastern Michigan University, but now his passion for the game knows no out of bounds. He got his start writing with the TravelGolf Network in 1999. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.

  • 4.0 stars from 5

    Golden Eagle Golf Club

    "Only the tee boxes are flat at Golden Eagle"

    I've played plenty of mountain courses in my day, but I've never seen a course with as many crooked lies as Golden Eagle, a true hidden gem an hour north of Brainerd. It's such a beautiful hilly setting that it's hard not to love the place. At the same time, it's so difficult to hit solid shots to so many plateau greens that it's easy to get frustrated with your game. Heavy rough is also an obstacle. Wetlands are sprinkled throughout the front nine with a single pond affecting the 14th and 18th holes on the back. All five downhill par 3s look and play great, but I'd like a little more variety. On three of them, my playing partner and I hit the same club from the blue tees each time. Ultimately, the question is this: With so many courses closer to civilization, is Golden Eagle worth the drive? YES. more »

    5.0 stars from 5

    Deacons Lodge Golf Course

    "Morning glory at Deacon's Lodge"

    I dreaded that 5:30 a.m. alarm until I started driving from Brainerd to Deacon's Lodge 45 minutes north. The sunrise through the trees and the mists rising above the lakes painted a lasting memory of the beauty of northern Minnesota's lake country. The round of golf was even better. I had forgotten how wonderful being the first group of the day can be. Off at 7:10 a.m., my foursome got pure conditions from start to finish. No divots on the tee boxes. Rolled greens as fast as I've played in a long time. Beautiful light for photography. The round felt like a backwoods adventure. The course is a shot-maker's delight. I love the contrast between the sixth hole - a delicate wedge on a 118-yard par 3 - to the seventh - a brutal par 4 with a 200-yard carry to the fairway. Playing from the right tee boxes is critical. We played the whites, where 6,000 yards sounds short until the harrowing approach shots over wetland gobble one ball after another. I had a plane to catch, otherwise I would have ended the morning in style with a drink and lunch at Palmer's Grille in the log-cabin clubhouse. more »

    4.0 stars from 5

    Cragun's Legacy Courses

    "Is Dutch Legacy the best of Cragun's?"

    While Bobby's Legacy has more holes on the scenic Legacy Lake, Dutch Legacy seems to get the nod from most golfers as the best course on property. It's a nice mix of fun, scenery and challenge that's probably a tad more playable. Robert Trent Jones Jr. - the designer of both - conjured up a boatload of strategy in the routing: The layup to a narrow fairway on the short third hole, two greens on the 14th hole, a risk-reward drive over bunkers on no. 11 and a split fairway on the par-5 16th. All in all, you can't go wrong with either course at Cragun's. They're both 4 1/2 stars and worth adding to any Brainerd golf itinerary. more »

    4.0 stars from 5

    Silvies Valley Ranch - Craddock & Hankins Courses

    "Craddock the more challenging test on the ranch"

    The Craddock course essentially uses the same land as the Hankins course, so how can it harder? Although the Craddock has one less par 5 than the Hankins, the main reason is the bunkering. Bunkers are more prevalent in front of greens, forcing an aerial attack to new greens firmer than normal. Perhaps the most interesting hole is no. 7, a 260-yarder that I'm calling a "driveable par 3". It plays all downhill, so you can reach with a 3-wood, but it still requires a heck of a shot to find a wild green. Architect Dan Hixson did a nice job building a new stretch of holes, nos. 9-11, around a ridge to make the reversible routing work. Part of the fun of playing the courses is figuring out where they meet sharing greens, tees and fairways. It's one giant puzzle. more »

    5.0 stars from 5

    Madden's on Gull Lake

    "A pleasure to play"

    The Classic is a rare course in the Midwest where caddies are available, so my foursome took full advantage. Nobody in the group besides me had ever taken a caddie before, so it was a rare treat that everybody loved. Our forecaddie turned an already classy experience into a five-star round. Famous for its many bridges, The Classic feels like a maze of wetlands and ponds. Funny thing is, the one par 3 that doesn't feature water might be the toughest. The 14th hole plays long and its two large bunker faces add an air of intimidation to the tee shot. The wildest swings in elevation characterize no. 1 and no. 16, two daunting par-5 holes with more water. The two signature holes are the par 4s at no. 3 and no. 11, two holes where aiming left off the tee is the only way to survive. It's a great routing, especially considering The Classic is the only major course architect/course superintendent Scott Miller has ever designed. What a great one-hit wonder. more »

    4.0 stars from 5

    Ruby Hill Golf Club

    "An oasis in the hills on the outskirts of Silicon Valley"

    If I could afford it, you can bet I would sign up for a home and membership inside the gates of Ruby Hill. The surrounding community is stocked with gorgeous homes, which blend in nicely with a good course by Jack Nicklaus. For the most part, the routing is strong, straight-forward golf. The exceptions are the memorable views from the elevated tee boxes on holes 10 and 18 and the interesting par 3 at no. 14. From the 145-yard member tee boxes, golfers essentially have to hit a shot over or draw it around several trees to reach the green. Water adds difficulty to four other holes (2-5-6-18). The amenities are superb. The practice facility is very impressive. So is the large, stately clubhouse. more »

    5.0 stars from 5

    Silvies Valley Ranch - Craddock & Hankins Courses

    "Hankins trumps Craddock with views/playability"

    I'm team Hankins all the way. Time will tell whether I'm in the minority when it comes to which of the reversible routings golfers prefer - the Craddock or Hankins. More elevated tees (for better views) and more blind shots (for more character) on the Hankins are the deciding factors for me. It's generally easier, too. With five par 5s, adding up to a par 73, there are more opportunities for birdies on Hankins, especially on the short par 5s at no. 3 and no. 16 (from the grey tees). The final par 5 at no. 18 challenges players to hit the longest drives of their lives. A sign at the tee explains why the dry air at altitude could unleash your inner John Daly. Go for it! more »

    3.0 stars from 5

    Silvies Valley Ranch - Chief Egan Course

    "Stress-free golf at the Chief Egan course"

    The Chief Egan course is short and simple and a beginner-friendly way to enjoy the game. None of the holes are longer than 120 yards, so grab a couple wedges, a putter and a beverage for the easy walk. The greens are small, requiring accuracy, especially since they are firm and still maturing. The best way to attack is to land the ball short and bounce it on. It's a great way for families to play together or for buddies to kill some time and settle a bet. more »