NISSWA — Grand View Lodge started it all and now they’re making it better.
The Pines Golf Course was the first championship style golf course constructed in the Brained lakes area in 1991. Last fall and this spring a $250,000 renovation project to the Lakes Nine was done to keep the Pines one of the top golf destinations in the state.
Head superintendent Mike Bohnenstingl and his staff along with Rasinski Excavating of Nisswa and Anderson Brothers Construction of Brainerd leveled and reconfigured 11 tee boxes, added two more and gave the par 3 seventh hole, The Pines’ signature hole, a major face lift.
The work will be on display Thursday when the Lakes opens for play for the first time this season. The grand opening of the nine holes will happen May 28-29 during the Fred/Mark Charity Invitational.
“The idea behind this was, The Pines was the first game in town as far as championship style courses, and we wanted to try to clean things up and show people that we’re committed to the game and to our golf course,” said Bohnenstingl.
The highlight of the project is the seventh hole, which saw the green expand to three times its original size.
“The elevation from front to back on that green was a 4.5 foot drop,” Bohenstingl said. “That made close to a third of the green unusable as far as pin locations. We dropped that elevation to about two foot. We took that big ridge down and expanded out into the pond about 15 feet on the upper half and probably 8 to 10 feet on the bottom half. We went from about 3,000 square feet to 5,500 feet.”
Players should enjoy the variety of pin placements, but the biggest benefit will be in the condition of the green. Because the hole was a 100- to 152-yard par 3, with limited hole locations, the number of ball marks and general wear was hurting the turf. The ability to move the pin location and the removal of trees for better sun exposure, should create better playing conditions said Bohnenstingl.
“The key to playability and the condition of the green is to be able to move the cup,” he said. “The way it was before we were limited.”
The tee area was also leveled off and expanded to give the grounds crew different options on where to move the tee box to help the turf.
The difficulty of the hole is still there, with the pond along the left side and the hill on the right.
“The back, left blue pin is going to be awesome,” said Pines head PGA professional Jack Wawro. “But you have a chance. It’s a huge landing area, but it’s hard to tell from the tee box. The green is gigantic now. I’m glad they kept a little bit of slope in the green. I think now people are going to have to be a little more accurate with their yardages.”
Two blue tee boxes were added and 11 other tee boxes were renovated. Workers stripped off the sod, leveled the tee box and then brought in pallets of bluegrass turf. Bohenstingl estimated 96 pallets of sod were laid down last fall and 16 to 18 were laid down this spring.
Along with leveling the tee boxes, many were realigned to the fairways to give players the proper angle to attack the hole.
A few of the back tees were pushed back to give the course more length. Hole 1 and 4 were two key spots.
“On hole 1, we pushed it back 25 yards and it’s actually going to make a huge difference just because normally you had to carry the hill in the fairway and it was really easy. Now, you won’t be carrying it as easy.
“Hole 4, we added another 25 yards and the big difference was players were able to fly the corner pretty easily and get home in two. Now there will be no flying the corner any more. They made the tee box a lot bigger.”
New cart paths were installed to cap off the project.
The Woods nine will likely get the same treatment this fall. Grand View Lodge general manager Mark Ronnei said the project hasn’t been finalized, but its likely.