Three Brainerd lakes area courses notched spots in the top 10 in Golfweek’s best courses in Minnesota for 2020.

Deacon’s Lodge at Breezy Point Resort, The Preserve at Grand View Lodge and The Classic at Madden’s were recognized as three of the top courses to play in Minnesota.

Deacon’s Lodge rolled in as the third best course behind Giants Ridge’s Quarry and The Wilderness at Fortune Bay.

“We feel blessed to be included in the conversation,” Deacon’s Lodge head PGA professional Mark Neva said. “We have never sought out accolades, obviously we are thrilled to be included amongst other great golf courses and happy to be in the business of creating memories on a day-to-day basis especially this year with so many societal distractions.”

Neva said the Arnold Palmer designed course is pleasing to the eye and dramatic as well as playable.

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“Wide fairways, big greens, big green complexes with a lot of surrounds that make it enjoyable to all skill levels,” Neva said. “The fact that it has so many hidden nuances to it, every time you play it you unlock a new clue in how to play it. So you tend not to get bored with the golf course.”

The Preserve ranked No. 5 behind Chaska Town Course and The Classic was No. 7 behind Rush Creek in Maple Grove.

The Classic is no stranger to being recognized as a top golf course. Last year, Golf Digest listed The Classic 59th out of America’s top 100 greatest public courses.

“It’s always a big deal to be recognized by a national publication, whether it’s a top 100 in the country or a state ranking,” Madden’s head professional Glenn Hagberg said. “A lot of people look at that.”

Hagberg said the variety of the golf shots The Classic provides during the 18 holes is a reason why it is so well regarded.

“The overall layout of the golf course and the variety of shots — there really isn’t a bad hole on the golf course,” Hagberg said. “The condition and service levels are a big factor as well. The biggest thing that puts the Classic on the top 100 national scale is the quality of the holes. Every single shot provides creativity.”

Three Brainerd lakes area courses notched spots in the top 10 in Golfweek’s best courses in Minnesota for 2020. Which of the three is your favorite to play?

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  • Deacon’s Lodge at Breezy Point Resort


  • The Preserve at Grand View Lodge


  • The Classic at Madden’s


Director of golf at Grand View Jack Wawro mentioned the view a golfer has as someone walks to the first hole of The Preserve is a reason it is so well liked.

“There is no place in the state where you have that view when you walk out,” Wawro said. “The Preserve is a short course with a lot of elevated tee boxes which allows you to have big drives. It’s a shorter course so it allows for a lot of birdies, but there is also a lot of local knowledge that allows things to be more difficult.”

Since golf opened in Minnesota in April, Wawro said he didn’t know what to expect from this year because of the pandemic. He believes the conditions at The Preserve are the best it’s been in 20 years.

“I wouldn’t say that lightly,” Wawro said. “Sitting there before the year we were so skeptical and had no idea what to expect. We did not know what the golf course was going to look like, we didn’t know if anyone was going to play it or pay for it, or travel and stay with us.”

Wawro says the list is a good reminder at how spoiled the Brainerd lakes community is to have high caliber golf courses in the area.

“When you play them everyday you don’t realize how good they are unless you come from outside,” Wawro said. “It’s pretty awesome. The fact that you have that caliber of golf courses in the area and have a variety. I just think we are spoiled.”

Hagberg says having three courses in the area on the list shows why so many people travel to play golf in the Brainerd lakes area.

“It’s a testament to the quality of golf in the Brainerd lakes area and why people travel from all over the country to play,” Hagberg said. “All of the properties are working together to provide this experience and pushing each other to get better.”

Neva lumped in both Giants Ridge courses and The Wilderness as a testament to northern Minnesota golf as a whole.

“Six of those 10 are north central to northern Minnesota, so it speaks to the quality of golf in our immediate area, but the quality of golf in northern Minnesota,” Neva said.

Dacotah Ridge in Morton ranked No. 8, Meadows at Mystic Lakes in Prior Lake ranked No. 9 and Giants Ridge’s Legends rounded out the list at No. 10.

“Golf is booming in our area,” Wawro said. “Our courses are full, tee sheets are full, to know where we started to where we are now is very rewarding.”

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or Follow on Twitter at