Chances are even non-golfers have heard of Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Pinehurst No. 2, Bethpage Black, TPC Sawgrass and Whistling Straits have all hosted major or almost-major tournaments.
Those five courses made up half of Golf Digest Magazine's top 10 Greatest Public Golf Courses in the U.S. Cracking the top 100 was the lakes area's Classic at Madden's, which landed at No. 40.
Golfers are inundated with views like this on hole No. 1 at the Classic at Madden's Resort in East Gull Lake, which was ranked by Golf Digest Magazine as the 40th-best public course in the nation. Peter Wong
The Quarry and The Legend at Giants Ridge in Biwabik were the only other Minnesota courses to make the list. The Quarry landed at No. 20, the Legend grabbed No. 72.
"It's just icing on the cake," said Classic architect and Madden's superintendent Scott Hoffmann. "We tried to do the best we could. The good Lord gave us a great piece of land and it just shows through. Some things you just can't improve on. You just try not to go the wrong direction with it."
From the tips The Classic measures 7,102 yards with a course rating of 75.6. From the forward tees it's 4,859 yards with a course rating of 69.3.
The Classic at Madden's
Highlight: Ranked 40th-best public course by Golf Digest Magazine.
Architect: Scott Hoffmann
Superintendent: Scott Hoffmann
Head professional: Chris Foley
Phone: (800) 642-5363
It opened in 1997 to rave reviews from Golf Digest, which ranked it the best new public upscale golf course in North America.
In 2003, it was selected the 33rd-best public golf course in America. In 2005 it slipped to 50th, but this year jumped back up to 40th.
"If you haven't played The Classic, I think the things that set it apart are the condition of the golf course and the uniqueness of all the holes," said Madden's head PGA professional Chris Foley. "All the holes are on their own. It's a pure test of golf. The golf course isn't tricked up. It's in front of you and if you shoot a good round you've played very well."
What has many at Madden's buzzing even more is the No. 24. That's where Madden's ranks in the nation in value of golf compared to price. Golf Digest ranked the 100 greatest public courses according to peak-season price, from least expensive to most.
"It's great to be ranked so high, but it's an even greater compliment to be ranked so high for value," said Madden's president Brian Thuringer. "That's a tribute to our staff.
"With the five-star rating, then being ranked in the top 50 in the nation just on the course and now in the top 30 for value, well that's pretty much the trifecta."
Hoffmann was most pleased with the value ranking as well. He said for the area a $100 green fee might seem steep, but compared to the rest of the nation it's affordable.
"We would like more local play, but unfortunately I think when we regulate play for our conditions people think we are being stringent other than agronomic," said Thuringer. "This course was built for 20,000 rounds. That's about where we want to be. We do have our twilight offering which is at $80.
"We've done some other things to add value. Our goal is to get people out there golfing, but it's expensive to maintain a golf course."
Hoffmann and assistant superintendent Scott Moede don't plan major changes, although Mother Nature forced their hand with the loss of numerous trees last summer around the first tee box and ninth and 18th greens. But the loss may have been a blessing in disguise.
"We added a bunker to the first hole to help keep the integrity of the hole," said Hoffmann. "People are now telling us it allows them more options so if they hit one off line they can still advance it toward the green, rather than hit one straight out.
"Plus, it gives us more air movement and more sunlight, which is better overall for the turf."
As for working to improve it's No. 40 ranking?
"That's rare air," said Thuringer. "We're just honored and pleased to be where we are. But the course is a living thing. You can't take your eye off the ball. You have to always be making sure your guests have a great experience.
"Like our competitors in our area, everyone is doing such a great job."
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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