FIFTY LAKES -- Imagine being sequestered from civilization while being surrounded in a deep, scenic forest with only 14 sticks and a white ball as your defense against the elements.
It's not the Twilight Zone, but the Golden Eagle Golf Club in Fifty Lakes. This 18-hole masterpiece, constructed by Bruce McIntosh and Mike Morley, who also designed the Preserve in Pequot Lakes, is set on 200 acres of rolling hills along the northern shore of Eagle Lake.
With the back nine and driving range set to open in late June or early July, Golden Eagle is slowly developing into one more reason to travel to the Brainerd lakes area for golf.
The opening of this public, championship-style course has been anticipated for four years.
"The course turned out great -- it just took us a lot longer to clean out the site," said McIntosh. "It was a very difficult site to build on because we did have a lot of dirt to move and we did have a lot of boulders in here. Six hundred-plus dump trucks of boulders were hauled out of here and sold, but the toughest part was actually getting it prepared to seed."
McIntosh said the topsoil was dirty and the rain would wash away the seed because of the severity of slopes on the course. He said it averaged a week per hole to prep the dirt and then seed it. Normally the process takes just a few days.
The front nine fairways, tees and greens have matured nicely for McIntosh and are open for play. When the entire 18 holes are ready, Golden Eagle will have 6,850 yards of challenging, yet enjoyable golf. Four sets of tees give all levels of golfers a choice of difficulty.
The course starts off with a long, par five and includes 17 other memorable holes.
"I really can't name my favorite hole," said McIntosh. "The back nine has some really beautiful, spectacular holes like the front. I'm going to wait and let people tell me what our signature hole will be.
"We didn't design any particular hole with that in mind. We just tried to make every hole with a different experience, a different view and look and different strategies."
Location of the course might cause problems for Golden Eagle in another way. Located eight minutes from Crosslake, north on County Road 1 in Fifty Lakes, the site is secluded in a quiet haven away from urban development. Situated on Eagle Lake off Kego Lake Road, McIntosh hopes to attract a variety of golfers.
"We're 20 minutes from Deacon's Lodge and 25 minutes from the Preserve," McIntosh said. "We're just north and east of the Whitefish chain. We're hoping we get a little bit of overflow from people who are coming up for three or four days where they want to play the top-notch courses.
"Our price point is going to be pretty good. We're going to be 25 to 30 percent less than most courses."
Golden Eagle is currently offering some special rates. For $35, golfers can play 18 holes with a cart. On weekends it's $52. During the prime season the rate will be $58 during the week and $66 for weekends and holidays. A twilight rate of $42 is offered every day after 3:30 p.m. All rates include a cart.
"Another thing that sets us apart is we're not a big corporation," said McIntosh. "We're going to be more like family here and treat people well here.
"I'm not concerned about where we're located. I like where we're located. We're not in the middle of the hubbub around the city. When you come here it's quiet. You're not going to hear the outside noises of civilization when you're here."
Along with a beautiful course, Golden Eagle also has a driving range, a putting green and a lavish clubhouse that's stocked with merchandise, a bar and a restaurant with a deck overlooking holes No. 5 and 9 and Eagle Lake.
"I would put our golf course against any other," said McIntosh. "They all have something great to offer. I think this will fit in really nice in this area. It's just another option with a different price point. We're going to be less expensive so we're going to try and entice people to come and play more than once.
"The reputation we want here is that we're a good bargain. We're a public golf course. You can get a tee time as far in advance as you want and we're a well maintained golf course."
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.