Bruce McIntosh's creation is already part of a collection of golf courses that Golf Digest magazine named one of the top 50 golf destinations in the world.
In January, Golden Eagle Golf Club in Fifty Lakes was singled out among the group, known as the Brainerd Golf Trail, by the Midwest Golf Course Owners Association as the 2004 "Course of the Year."
The award capped off a successful 2004 campaign that saw Golf Digest award the course with a four-star designation, as well as rank the 18-hole public course a national leader in service and pace of play.
So what does an owner add to a highly acclaimed course? A place to stay.
New this year at Golden Eagle is a golf cottage. With plans to build more, the initial design has taken off.
"The reason we decided to do this is because we're not affiliated with any major resort," said McIntosh. "So many people call us up and say they've heard great things about the course, but want to know where to stay. Everytime we send them somewhere we may lose them to other golf courses. So we decided to develop our own lodging option."
The cottage features a 1,300-square foot main floor with two bedrooms on the second and a finished basement. McIntosh admitted it's not a unique idea.
"It's a concept that's being used successfully in other parts of the country," said McIntosh, who designed the five-year-old course with Mike Morely. "Whether they're standalones or part of other units, the cottages are built to sleep eight people. It's perfect for two foursomes. We felt we needed to give people the option of staying here. It's a good way to increase our rounds."
Resort mainstays like Madden's, Cragun's, Grand View Lodge, Ruttger's and Breezy Point all have made golf packages an integral part of their marking strategy. Now Golden Eagle has that tool.
Golden Eagle Golf Club
Type: 18-hole public
Guest fees: Weekday 9 holes: $39, Weekday 18 holes: $65, Weekend 9 holes: $45, Weekend 18 holes: $75,
Address: 16146 W. Eagle Lake Road, Fifty Lakes, MN 56448
Directions: Highway 1 to Kego Lake Road - North 1 Mile on Kego Lake Road to West Eagle Lake Road
Tee-time phone: 866-316-4653
"We have one cottage that's completed now and it is for sale if someone wants to own it as a rental property," said McIntosh. "Until the lodging demand increases we don't want to build another one and just have it sit empty."
The idea is to have each cottage individually owned with rentals managed by a separate entity. Revenues would then be shared between the owner and the management company.
"It's beneficial for everyone," said McIntosh. "The owners are able to invest in very desirable real estate with some income to offset their cost of ownership. They can also use the property when it is not occupied."
Other than the cottage idea, McIntosh is busy fine-tuning the course and the service at Golden Eagle.
The clubhouse revamped its menu and the staff is more experienced.
"We're just getting better at what we do," McIntosh said. "We're providing better service because we know a little more of what to expect. We're just trying to get better at what we do."
JEREMY MILLSOP can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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