Of the 622 golf holes in the Brainerd lakes area, 52 were designed by Joel Goldstrand.
While not world renowned as Arnold Palmer and Robert Trent Jones Jr., it was Goldstand's design of Grand View Lodge's the Pines that started the golf boom in the area.
Goldstand's other accomplishments in the area include the Lakes at Ruttger's Bay Lake Lodge, the Vintage Golf Club in Staples and Whitetail Run Golf Club in Wadena.
In all Goldstrand has designed about 70 courses in the Midwest.
Now the former PGA Tour Professional and club pro, has packaged 41 of those courses into 21 different trail loops as part of the "Pick a Loop, Pack a Bag, and Play Away" program.
Each Goldstrand loop is a two-, three- or four-day trip featuring Goldstrand designed courses in different regions of Minnesota.
The entire golf trip can be arranged by either logging on the website www.joelgoldstrandgolftrail.com or calling 1-888-848-9918.
"The people who have already utilized the trail have had fun and those signed up are anticipating it," said Goldstrand. "They think it's a good idea. So far the response has been really good."
For the last coupe of years, Goldstrand has wanted to tie together all the courses he's designed. This year he sat down and the Goldstrand Golf Trail evolved.
"I would very much like to see the courses I've worked on be successful and this was a fun way to do it," said Goldstrand. "So many people are aware of the Pines, but I have a whole bunch of other courses that people aren't aware of. It's affordable and easy driving."
There are four different loops that feature Brainerd lakes area courses.
The first is the Lakes Area No. 1 which includes the Lakes Course at Ruttger's, the Pines and Blueberry Ridge in Menahga. The 63-hole, three-day trip costs $162 and includes golf, carts and tax.
The next loop is the Lakes Area No. 2 trail. Instead of Blueberry Pines, Blackberry Ridge in Sartell is the third course. This trail costs $154.
The Northwest No. 3 loop features the Vintage and Whitetail Run. They're grouped with Double Eagle Golf Club in Eagle Bend and Geneva Golf Club in Alexandria to form the three-day loop. The cost is $118.
On his website Goldstrand wrote Northwest No. 3 was a sleeper trail loop. He wrote: "Maybe these courses are not as well known yet, but after playing the loop, trust me, you will realize they should be well known."
The last loop is the North. The Lakes is teamed with Sugarbrooke and Wendigo Golf Club in Grand Rapids. The cost is $125.50.
"We've already received pretty good response to it," said Bill Laimer, director of golf at Ruttger's. "With it being so young we've already had five foursomes come out. That's not a lot right now, but hopefully that's 20 people who wouldn't have known about Ruttger's and the trail got them here."
Laimer said the northern trails are the ones being used the most. One reason for that is the Pines, which is one of just 12 courses in the country to receive a five star rating from Golf Digest.
"The Pines has gotten the most publicity," said Goldstrand about his 1990 effort. "The reason is two fold. It was the first of the resorts going to full length championship courses and they've done a wonderful job in presenting the course."
The Lakes and the Pines are also part of the newly formed Brainerd Golf Trail.
The courses are hoping both marketing tools translate into increased play and exposure.
"For us, anybody who can market the Pines and if the Pines can help market and build the traffic in the area it's a win-win situation for everyone," said Suzanne Welch, golf sales and Marketing director at Grand View. "With Joel, who is so well known in the Midwest, he can tap into some different markets."
Welch said the Pines has received six groups through the trail loop.
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