Golfing The Classic at Madden's Resort in Central Minnesota
By Sherel Purcell
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During a recent road trip through the Midwest, my husband John and I serendipitously ran into some fellow golf lovers who recommended The Classic at Madden's Resort in Central Minnesota. The course wasn’t originally on our itinerary, but their hearty recommendation spurred us to drive a few extra hours north and see what the fuss was about.
After driving all day, it felt good to stretch our legs on The Classic’s perfectly groomed, green velvet fairways. The track winds thorough verdant northern forests, over hills and through tall grasses crisscrossed by wooden bridges spanning marshes, ponds, lily-padded wetlands and burbling creeks. We were immediately smitten.
Initially, the 545-yard, par 5 first hole appeared wide open, but we soon discovered otherwise. Its gradual slope had us shooting blindly to a distant hill—a challenging little trick of Midwestern geography that immediately validated the long drive here.
Approaching our second shots, we stared in disbelief at the drastically narrowed fairway that dropped sharply towards a clump of trees, partly obscuring marshy waters on the right. John, forced to shoot over this hazard, caught the left edge of the sizable green, sending the ball speeding right—just missing the hole.
I came up short with an open shot to the green that landed in a deep fairway bunker. My 65-degree sand wedge barely cleared the lip but was no match for the slippery green. We headed to the next hole humbled, a few strokes over par and hungry for more.
On the par 4 fifth hole, our joy turned to confusion as we approached the water fronting two greens—a unique feature of this course. I played to the much smaller but closer bailout green, while John went for the larger green 60 yards away. A better choice, as he parred the hole with a pleasing thunk into the cup while a loud splash completed my shot.
A few enjoyable hours later, we arrived at the signature, par 3 seventeenth hole. To avoid the hole’s four sand bunkers and tight knot of trees guarding their emerald prize, we aimed straight for the pin. As the sun began to set over the course, we walked away happy with our hard-earned bogeys and vowed to take a caddy next time to help navigate the many challenges of this incredible five-star course.
Giants Ridge, in the Iron Range of Northeast Minnesota, features two championship courses: The Legend and The Quarry. The more challenging Quarry course sits on an abandoned iron ore mine—a nod to the area’s past—and features dramatic lake and forest views from elevated tees.
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