EAST GULL LAKE -- The Legacy Courses at Cragun's Resort have been called the most challenging 27 holes in the area.
With tight and hilly fairways, as well as undulating greens that send golfers to the eye doctor for a checkup the same day, Cragun's does have an intimidating golf course.
But Cragun's also might be the most complete golf resort in the Brainerd lakes area, and not just in the summer.
It has 27 holes of championship golf with another nine expected to be playable next fall. It as a wonderful walking reversible nine-hole course for the beginner. It has one of the most complete practice facilities with a driving range and putting greens. Plus, it has courteous and experienced staff members who love to teach, play and make golf a sport for everyone.
Despite that, the golf staff members at Cragun's aren't sitting on their laurels as they are accommodating those golfers who just can't get enough.
Thanks to the area's four seasons, outdoor golf only lasts about five months of the year for Minnesotans. But golf is turning into a sport for all seasons at Cragun's.
The world of computers and visual technology have met the golf world in the form of golf simulators. Although Cragun's has had one simulator for six years and added another last year, the technology was raw. Now, with the advances in computers, playing 18 holes on a simulator might be better than the real thing.
Cragun's golf simulator is a computer operated program that sets before the golfer a visually accurate composition of a golf course. The computer keeps track of scores, wind direction, distance and elevation. It also recommends what club to use.
"There are two sets of sensors that run 180 degrees up and down in front of the screen," Cragun's George Fruith said. "Every shot has to initiate from someplace in front of the sensors and screen so that every ball goes through both sets of sensors.
"The sensors pick up the spin of the ball and the velocity. Every shot has to go into the screen, even putting. The screen absorbs the impact."
The sensors are remarkably accurate. They pick up slices and hooks and even those worm-burners that occasionally happen.
"Even though you don't get to see the ball fly through the air you still get a very accurate depiction of where your ball goes," said Curtis Williams, a teaching professional at Cragun's.
Many golfers have told Fruith the simulator is frustratingly accurate.
Although it might seem odd to set up a tee time in the middle of winter, Cragun's does take tee times for its simulators. After a short introductory lesson, golfers are left alone to enjoy nine or 18 holes of pure golfing pleasure. The simulators have eight courses to choose from, including the site of Payne Stewart's last major victory at Pinehurst Resort, Course No. 2.
Both simulators are located in the Cragun's Sports Center.
You can bring your own clubs, but Cragun's has clubs available at no charge.
The golf community at Cragun's is still not complete. An indoor driving range is being assembled in the clubhouse and lessons are being offered either at the driving range or in the golf simulator.
If you're taking a trip south in February, maybe to North Carolina or Arizona, and you want to get your game in shape before the trip, Cragun's offers a great opportunity.
Or maybe you want to get a head start on your golfing partners. Cragun's simulators and driving range are a great place to start.
The two simulators are the only two of their kind in the Brainerd lakes area, and Cragun's is the only golf resort still open for golfing.
Cragun's is also offering packages, such as nine holes of golf, lessons or driving range use and lunch at the clubhouse restaurant.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.