The excitement level is high at The Classic at Madden’s.
For the first time in the course’s 15 years it will host a local qualifying for the United States Golf Association’s U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.
The two-day qualifier is scheduled May 30-31 and is one of just two qualifiers in Minnesota.
The Amateur Public Links is open to players with a handicap index of 4.4 or less, who play golf at public golf courses only.
Fulfilling those qualifications from the area are Brainerd’s Tyler Monda and Brad Holland, Shawn Chambers of Pequot Lakes and Zach Israelson and Nick Forsberg of Staples and Brandon Meyers of Motley.
Head PGA professional at The Classic is Glenn Hagberg and he’s expecting even par to an outstanding score.
“I’ve been talking about that with some of the guys who have come through for a practice round,” said Hagberg. “In the years that I’ve been here we’ve hosted a couple of state championships with the Mid-Amateur and the Minnesota PGA’s Assistant’s Championship and the lowest score in competition that I’ve seen for 18 holes was a 71. So, for 36 holes I’m anticipating the top two finishers to be one or two under par.
“If you’re going to come in with even par, you’ll be in really good shape.”
The course set up won’t be any different than a normal weekend, said Madden’s head superintendent and Classic architect Scott Hoffmann. The course will play around 7,000 yards.
“It’s going to be pretty much our normal set up,” said Hoffmann. “The USGA isn’t to the point where they want U.S. Open style conditions. They want the greens stimping around 9.5 or 11. They don’t want U.S. Open style rought, but want the rough to be rough.”
Hoffmann dittoed Hagberg’s sentiment that even par will be a good score after two rounds.
“I think the key will be knowing the course well enough to know where to put your drives and if it’s not where it needs to be the player needs to be ready to adjust,” said Hoffmann. “They’ll need to be prepared to set themselves up for their next shot to, if not in position they will have a higher degree of risk for their next shot.”
Spectators are welcome for the 45-player qualifier. The top two players will advance for the Public Links, which will be played June 27-July 2 at Brandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Ore.
“I was actually born in Oregon, and I’ve never been back, so it would be pretty cool to make it back there,” said Monda.
He said regardless if he makes it or not, it should be a good two rounds of golf. He knows one of his playing partners for the first day and his dad, Steve, will be on the bag.
The former Brainerd High School graduate and current University of North Dakota player said he can’t complain about his game and will get a few good practice sessions in before the tournament.
“They are going to make that course impossible,” said Monda. “They’ll roll the greens and double cut them. That course is already difficult and you throw in any kind of weather or wind and that makes it that much worse.
“The field is also very strong. I know a lot of the names on the tee sheet. It’s going take a very good number to advance. It will be fun, regardless if I qualify or not.”
That’s the feeling already buzzing around the East Gull Lake resort.
“The excitement level is very high,” said Hoffmann. “Our staff is very excited to host this. Our members are also excited to have their golf course show itself against a great group of golfers like this.”
jeremy millsop, sports writer, may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5856.