The Classic at Madden’s (Brainerd, MN)

I had a absolutely great experience at The Classic at Madden’s today. Google Maps sent me to the wrong place so I was a little later than I’d planned getting to the course. They had a little room so juggled my tee time back so I had a chance to warm up.

I took the advice on their website and decided to walk the course with a caddy. This was a great decision. It was the first round of 18 I’d walked since my surgery and during my treatment, I got tired on the back 9 and hit a couple of loose shots as a result, but still carded an 83 I’m proud of. This was the best I’ve driven the ball in a long time – navigating quite a few demanding tee shots.

The course is beautifully carved into the trees and marshland of the area. It’s well manicured and the greens were quite fast (10 on the Stimpmeter) but still receptive to approach shots. I was able to knock a couple of full wedge shots close and 1-putt for par (after a poor shot somewhere along the hole).

Playing with a caddy, something I’ve only done a handful of times before, was a great decision. Instead of being unsure about the shots I was hitting, I felt confident in each swing I took. This definitely isn’t normal for me when playing a course for the first time (even with a rangefinder and GPS). I love that Madden’s is building up their caddy program. When choosing between paying for a cart vs. paying for a caddy, go for the caddy every time.

There are some challenging holes at The Classic, some long approaches and some risk/reward options with water in front of the greens. I found the course to be tough but fair.

Lunch in the restaurant was a bit pricey ($21 for a salmon caesar salad), but tasty and the service all around was excellent. I’ll definitely be making a return trip here next time I’m in the area.