Located in Northern Minnesota and the Gem of the Grandview Lodge Championship Golf courses is one of the top 10 public courses in the state, Deacons Lodge. Designed by Arnold Palmer and named after his father, Deacons Lodge is a true natural beauty and test for golfers of any level. The 18 hole, par 72 course features bentgrass greens, tees and fairways across 500 acres of forest, wetlands and lakes. With hardly any residential homes on the course and an abundance of wildlife, it is the most serene and secluded course you may ever see. I make the trip up to Grandview every year in August for a 24 man Ryder Cup tournament, and this course is always the highlight of the trip. I was lucky enough to come across a package deal this spring that included a 2 night stay and rounds of golf at all 3 of the Grandview courses for $299. We jumped at the opportunity.
Grandview Lodge features 3 different golf courses all located within a 25 mile span of each other as well as a main lodge. There is lodging located at the main lodge as well as two of the 3 courses. Deacons Lodge is one of the courses that features cabins on the golf course. During our Ryder Cup trip we stay right at Deacons in 2 cabins that each have 14 queen size beds, a kitchen, bar, pool table, flat screen tvs, grills… you name it. The clubhouse at Deacons Lodge is somewhat small in size but features everything you would need at a resort course. From the golf equipment to the staff, to the range cut out of the middle of a forest, it is top notch. Because it is a resort course items such as apparel, clubs, and food and beverage is usually pretty expensive.
After warming up at the range it is a short drive down to the first tee where your starter will be waiting to explain everything you need to know about the course layout. The starting hole is a par-4 dogleg right with a slightly elevated green. The great thing about Deacons Lodge is that the fairways and greens are huge for the most part. What makes it tough is when you miss a fairway. Right or Left of the fairway is usually about 5-10 yards of rough before you are either in the trees, marsh grass, or a lake. This is one of those courses that playing the holes backwards can be very helpful. This means playing a club off the tee that will give you the best opportunity to hit the fairway and the best shot at the green. Hole two is a sharp dogleg right par-5 with a fairway that splits in half before reaching the green. If you can play a shot towards the right portion of the fairway on your second shot it will help set you up for a nice opportunity for birdie. Hole 3 is a fairly straight forward 168 yard par-3 with bunkers on the right side. Hole 4 is where the test truly begins. The par-4 fourth plays 355 yards uphill with the most narrow fairway on the course. To the left is waste bunkers and to the right is the lake. If you do reach the fairway it is an uphill shot to a green that runs hard down towards the lake. A par here is a victory. The fifth is a hole that demands both a good tee shot as well as approach shot. A 250 yard tee shot will leave you on the top of the hill overlooking the green about 75ft below where you stand. To the right of the green is the lake and to the left is thick rough. If you don’t feel confident with this shot I have learned the best approach is playing it short and either rolling it up to the green or playing an up and down for par. Arnold gives you another opportunity to get a par on the sixth with a 108 yard par-3. There are sand traps scattered both left and right of the green and the back of the green slopes hard downhill. The 7th is one of the hardest holes on the course (toughest according to the scorecard). The 412 yard par 4 requires a 180 yard carry to hit a fairway that doglegs from left to right with everything sloping hard right into the marsh. If you reach the fairway your next shot requires an accurate approach to a large green that runs downhill. Anything left of this hole slopes heavily down a hill into the waste bunkers. Hole eight is a short par 4 with another split fairway. If you can hit the fairway here it is one of the best opportunities for birdie on the course. Hole nine is a par-5 dogleg to the left with the clubhouse to the right. It plays 533 yards with a green that is downhill surrounded by marsh. It isn’t a terribly difficult hole, but accuracy once again is key.
The 10th hole is a short 357 yard par-4 which I like to play an iron off the tee. It gives you a nice open fairway which ends about 80 yards short of the green. The approach shot takes precision because there is really no bailout area. There is no fairway around it, and little rough so hitting the green is a must. Hole 11 is a beast of a par-3 which plays 183 yards on the scorecard, but with the elevated green you are looking at around 200 yards. I have seen many guys rounds fall apart on this hole. Hole 12 plays similar to hole 10 in that there is a fairway that is easily reachable with an iron that will give you a nice approach shot on your second shot. Being that the hole plays 320 yards and down about 50 feet in elevation you will see a lot of guys go for the green on this one. However there is little room for error being that everything left is marsh and woodlands. Hole 13 is a straight away 422 yard par-4. It looks harmless from the tee box, but there is more to the hole than meets the eye. A narrow green surrounded by thick grass and bunkers makes your approach shot crucial. Hole 14 is the first par-5 on the back 9 and is a hole that can play easy, or very hard depending on your tee shot. If you are able to put it in the fairway you should have no problem setting yourself up for a GIR. Unfortunately for me I put my ball in the right rough in an odd lie that caused me to shank one into the woods and forced a drop. I was +3 standing on 14 tee box, and got an 8 on the hole. Golf is hard. Hole 15 is a dogleg left par 4 that plays hard downhill and features an oddly shaped green. A tee shot to the right portion of the fairway will set you up nice for an approach shot with a low iron. 16 features gorgeous tee box overlooking the lake on the left and thousands of skinny pine trees behind you. A straight fairway gives way to a hill in front of an elevated green surrounded by large bunkers. The par-3 17th is the signature hole at Deacons Lodge. It is featured in Arnolds Dream 18 which makes up the top 18 holes from courses he has designed. It is a 174 yard tee shot to a large green with the lake behind. It looks easy enough, but the swirling winds and shape of the green makes it a tougher shot that one would guess. Many times when I play Deacons the sun is usually setting as we finish up the back 9 and the sunset over the 17th is one of my favorite sights in golf. Hole 18 is a finishing par-5 with another up and down fairway that gives way to a narrow green. The hole plays 525 yards and demands one final quality tee shot to the right side of the fairway.
Whether you are a fair-weather golfer or a diehard, Deacons Lodge golf course is one you will remember for a long time. The scenery and challenge of the course will leave you wanting to come back for more. I shot an 80 my last time out, and felt like I should have scored much better. As time went by however I knew that this was a score I needed to be happy with because next time I might not be so lucky.