The Classic at Madden's on Gull Lake
|White (W)||72||6062 yards||76.6||145|
|Gold (W)||72||5438 yards||73.1||137|
|Red (W)||72||4859 yards||70.0||126|
|Tour M: 75.0/148||545||173||383||404||418||545||214||440||437||3559||470||444||218||634||218||416||532||159||452||3543||7102|
|Black M: 73.2/138||510||165||330||401||394||536||207||429||420||3392||468||339||199||603||209||408||511||155||433||3325||6717|
|Blue M: 71.9/136||500||150||324||386||371||525||182||405||403||3246||466||322||187||591||190||380||489||146||421||3192||6438|
|White M: 70.2/133 W: 75.8/137||489||132||305||370||347||493||160||351||389||3036||450||306||170||571||163||363||469||133||401||3026||6062|
|Gold M: 67.4/127 W: 72.3/130||380||132||305||322||347||493||160||328||334||2801||372||275||170||494||163||323||394||133||313||2637||5438|
|Red W: 69.2/122||380||95||165||322||300||371||83||328||334||2378||372||275||140||494||90||323||394||80||313||2481||4859|
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An enjoyable challenge at a MN legend
I had The Classic at Madden's on my list for awhile and was finally able to drive 3 hours north in order to add this course to my list. I really, really enjoyed this course. I teed off (alone) around 8am and it was chilly but really nice. Great club house, nice restaurant with a pro shop that has a lot of items. Side note, yardage books are free which is nearly unheard of, and its one of the nicer books in my 30+ collection. As you approach the first tee, there is a small putting green for a few quick putts before head off. There is also a cool bridge which you take your cart over and it brings you to a nice driving range. These bridges are all over the course, as seen in the pictures, and its very cool and adds some definite character. They have 6 tee options ranging from 7102 to 4850. I played the tips and found it to offer a great challenge. I really enjoyed this round and can see why so many websites and Minnesota golfers says The Classic is their favorite course. Many websites have this course ranked in their top 5, which I completely agree with. It is also a top 100 course in the country. I will say my favorite MN course is still The Wilderness, but this course is still phenomenal and a total blast. First hole is a 545 yard par 5 dog leg left with a pretty steep slope about 150 yards and in. Awesome opening hole that can reward you immediately, or put you on your heels within your first shots of the day. My favorite hole was #17, easily. 160 yard par 3 shooting over a swamp/pond, a cool bridge off to the right, and some incredible white sand bunkers in the back. Awesome, awesome par 3 and one I will always remember when I think of this course. Another hole I loved was #11, a 444 yard par 4 that looks storable on paper, but is a real shotmakers dream when you get on the tee box. The tips are tucked back in a chute, and if your drive is 10 yards offline either way, you will hit the trees and still be in the chute. If you get through the chute clean, you better hope you have the distance because the fairway starts really deep on the hole. Once you are clean there, you have multiple options of how to play the hole. The green is protected by bunkers behind, water in front, OB on the right and a BIG tree which seems to be placed just perfect to line up with the common pin placements. The green is off to the right, but the fairway plays to the left. You either bail out left and play for par at best, or you pull a few tricks out and spin it into the green. Tough par but one of my favorite MN holes. Greens were perfect, fairways were fantastic, and the course was in impeccable shape. I told the staff that their course had some of the best conditions I had seen this season. Their staff was great, starter was very welcoming and told me all about the course and resort, the bag drop guys were fun and seemed genuinely happy that they were helping me out. This is an awesome course that should be on your list to play. I will be back and next time, I will be playing with previous experience. Time to go low!
This course deserves to be an American Top 100!
Our group played The Classic at a 9:00 am shotgun in cold, wet weather. Playing from the White tees (70.2/133/6,062), the course played more difficult than expected. This course is beautiful. Almost gaudy in it's green shades on the ground and the myriad of colors of the trees turning as winter approaches. Fall Golf at it's best. Every shot seemed to require an extra club. Several holes have small greens to protect par and others surrounded by RTJ Jr-esque bunkers. Fairways are wide with limited blind shots. With fallen leaves abundant, hitting even slightly off target will cause a lost ball. Staff is authentically native Minnesotan. I have wanted to play this course for years and now I want to come back again and again.
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.
Ditto on sorenj review
I can only say "ditto" to that review.
What I can add is that my wife and I drive 5 hours three times a year to play this destination course. We have been doing this for ten years. I can also add that the conditions are always pristine. There is nary a blade of grass out of place.
I love the statement about feeling like a guest because it is true. From the person who brings you a cart to the bartender at the 19th, and everyone in between, the people are absolutely great. No pressure to buy something, speed up, etc. Many companies could benchmark how this entire staff works together and makes you feel like a "guest". And this has been every time for the ten year span.
I have been fortunate to play many good courses, but this is one of the best. This is a destination course. Make it an Ernie Banks Day - Let's play two!".
Great course, layout with the trees and streams, made this course really enjoyable, fairways were amazing. A very long walk, but it was enjoyable, I really want to play this course in the fall.
Aptly named "The Classic" this is a great course.
The short version: this is, quite simply, a great course. It’s Golf Digests #58 public course, and has been on the list since ’03 with the only real question being; what were the folks at Golf Digest thinking prior to that? Further, the service level (at every level of employee we met, which ranged from an intern to the director of marketing and head pro) bordered on unbelievable. Very few places pull off the “we are truly glad you are here” vibe, without looking like they are trying; at Maddens the enthusiasm was palpable.
While I still like “country club” golf, with the scenic shots and tricky design quirks; I’ve really developed an appreciation for tournament layouts as well. There is something to straightforward golf that appeals to me at a basic level. What The Classic does that I think is somewhat unique is deftly combine the best of both worlds.
It certainly had the club feel, with beautiful holes that captivate the imagination in ways beyond the golf you are playing. Ponds, creeks and covered bridges are just a part of the tapestry that is this course. They even have a “player option” split green on #5 that has two holes. One is on a super-small green which is about 75 yards closer, while the other comes with a far larger landing area; both are protected in front by water. A fledgling tree in the center of the fourth fairway will only add to the intrigue when it develops over the years.
At the same time, Maddens sets up and plays like a tournament ready course and there is plenty of golf to be played here. I thought the blue tees I played were going to be a little short at 6438 for their rating/slope (71.9/136); however, they played to their full measure by using good angles and well placed - but not overly punitive - hazards to defend the holes. The starter said the holes play about 2 strokes tougher than the same distance somewhere else and I’d say he was about right.
I really liked the par 5 starting hole. You can’t see over the horizon, so you don’t really know what you are getting yourself into; however you can absolutely make up some ground on the downhill second shot. I was a bit short off the tee, but with roll had a 217 yard 7 iron approach that put me in position to save par (I failed to do so, but that’s not the point). And yet, while you can get “back in the game;” because of the way the green is protected at the bottom, you really can’t fire into it and make up more than one stroke. It’s just really good design, from my perspective.
This third hole is another interesting creation with a drivable distance (for big hitters) but a very well protected green complete with water in front as well as to the right and waste area behind. I fired at the center of the “fairway” bunker and just cleared it, leaving about 80 yards or so to the pin.
The course itself was in stellar condition with arguably the softest bunkers I’ve played out of in the 40 rounds I’ve played over the last 40 days. The starter told me the greens are fast and true; and, once I stopped trying to read too much into them and listened to his advice my scoring improved significantly. They are deceptively true, if that is a thing. The Classic really appeared to be in “mid-season form,” even though opening day wasn’t that long ago.
My wife and I started out in a cart together; however, because of the number of pictures she was taking for the book, I eventually grabbed my bag and walked the last several holes. I could have easily walked the entire course (and, in many ways wish I had). There is a calmness and serenity about this place and walking the course added to that.
As mentioned above the service level was more than commendable and we truly felt like guests rather than patrons. I went off first so I can’t speak too much to pace of play, but I know the foursome playing behind us wasn’t far behind (and I was playing as a single). I’m told Monday and Tuesday are the best days for getting in a quick round and the weekends can be a tougher get. This makes sense because in addition to having a strong local customer base Maddens is a destination spot that caters to the entire family; with plenty to keep non-golfers pleasantly entertained while rounds are being played. We stayed in a lovely little lake side cabin and were not excited about leaving.
More than a course I’d recommend, I’m already plotting my return!
Least favorite of the Brainerd courses
I know this is running counter to the other ratings and all the national "experts", but this course didn't do it for me.
The overall conditions were fine. But the greens speed and slope were near impossible. An uphill putt that essentially stops a foot above the cup shouldn't then roll back 4 feet below the cup. Also too many cross hazards/forced carries for the average golfer to enjoy. I can see where single digit handicappers would find the challenge, but course ratings shouldn't just be for those who can drive it 275 yards in the center of the fairway and get their irons to stop on a dime.
Putting price aside, it was my least favorite of the big-name Brainerd courses. Throw in a price point that is significantly above the others, and I would not recommend this to the average golfer.
Lives up to the name
Nothing can spoil this good walk. For the money and quality of course/experience, I consider the Classic one of the best value courses in the country. Designed and built by the superintendent, there was very little dirt moved, which is reflected by its simple elegance. With subtle twists, turns, trees, creeks and just enough undulation changes, as you approach the 18th green you'll be thinking about one thing: the first tee.
Well deserving of the 5-star rating Golf Digest gives it!
1st class course in every way, from clubhouse to grill to staff and tee to green but not with a "stuffy" atmosphere. Tee placements allow for great golf for beginners to advanced golfers and course conditions are superb everywhere. Nicest course in the Brainerd area and ranks favorably with the best I've played in the country. Outstanding!
Played as a reward for my son
From start to finish, professional service at it's best. Staff was very friendly, course was fun to play, pace was excellent. Although a bit more than other courses in the area, the customer service made it worth the cost.