The Classic lives up to word on the street

by Mark Sculati

The little things. It’s always the little things. A foursome visits a new course and you can bet that all of the little things will be noticed and expounded upon.

Andrew Cunanan? Never heard of him. Sand trap not raked? Somebody shoot that sinner.

Little things to golfers become bigger than Don King’s hairbrush. Add up all the little things from the best golf courses around the state and what do you get? The Classic at Maddens.

Get Real
You hear over and over about how good a certain movie is and then are disappointed. Like so many things in our world, the reality does not always match the hype. The Classic does not fall into that unfortunate category.

This golfer had heard many glowing reviews about The Classic prior to our visit, ranging from the "Common Man" Dan Cole to my boss (no, it’s not Arnie). I am happy to report that at The Classic the reality matched the hype.

It’s the Sand, Man
The most neglected, abused area of a majority of Minnesota golf courses has to be the sand traps (at some courses you can’t even call them that). At many courses guys will walk into a sand trap and it’s so hard and crusty you can barely see where their footprints were. Forget Mars, send the Sojourner to some local sand traps to collect some samples.

The Classic has beautiful, white Pebble Beach-type sand - the kind where one of our foursome was heard to say, "It’s so nice I almost want to hit into it." The par four 304-yard second hole dazzles golfers’ eyes as the approach shot is studied. Seven to eight layered traps form a backdrop on three sides. Looking out from 130 yards and then putting on the green with the bright sun reflecting out of the traps, it dawned on me not to make fun of David Duval’s wrap-around sunglasses anymore (only his Saturday/Sunday scores).

A golfer actually becomes better the more he hits into these traps - they are that good and consistent. Another comment made was that The Classic and The Wilds seem to be the only courses in the state using this pristine sand.

What Winterkill?
In a year where winterkill is still prevalent on most northern courses, none of it was evident at The Classic. With bent grass fairways, tees, and greens, the course was in perfect shape. The tee boxes were immaculate and had great signage. The fairways were well defined.

At most resort courses if you miss left or right you find yourself in Sherwood Forest. The Classic has areas of trees left or right but the brush has been cut and replaced with inch-high rough. Miss a little and you can still find your ball and punch out. This added greatly to the layout of the course and helps speed up play.

The greens are big, with many contours. The 165-yard par three third hole is one such green. As the Players’ Guide puts it: "Placing a ball on the correct side of the hogsback is paramount to prevent three putting." This golfer managed to three putt from the correct side.

H2O, Baby!
Water. The Classic has plenty and it greatly enhances the beauty of this course. On no fewer than ten holes, water can come into play. Three reachable par fives - numbers one, seven, and ten - have water guarding the green. Hit a great second shot on these holes and you’re thinking possible eagle. Don’t; you may very well be looking at a bogey or worse. The key to the second shot on these par fives is all carry. A run-up shot will find the water. These are three really well designed holes.

The front nine at The Classic is unique in that it has three par fives and three par threes. The back nine features the more standard two par fives and two par threes.

Lots of Help
To help golfers navigate their way through The Classic’s beautiful course layout there is a Players’ Guide. A paragraph is written about each hole and the golfer is instructed on where to best play the tee shot. We found the guide very helpful and referred to it often.

The Classic officially opened this past spring. The original terrain was used and only about 20,000 cubic yards of earth were moved - well-known course designer Pete Dye uses that much on one hole. Scott Hoffman, the superintendent, designed The Classic (thank goodness; somebody other than Joel Goldstrand) with renowned amateur John Harris helping design the back tees.

The number of rounds played at The Classic are limited so the course figures to remain in excellent shape. Christopher Foley is the head pro and clearly is one of the nicest and most genuine hosts the SportsPage staff has encountered. The entire staff should be commended for making a visit to The Classic a terrific golfing experience.

As far as The The’s go (Classic, Preserve, Pines), The Classic clearly rests on top.

 

Tour

Black

Blue

White

Red

Distance

7109 6709 6355 5840 4883
Rating 74.9 72.6 71.1 68.7 68.6
Slope 139 132 129 125 119

The Classic

Gull Lake
Green Fees:
$85.00
Difficulty:
Difficult


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