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At Golden Eagle you are surrounded by hills, valleys, lakes, marshes, rivers and forests, and you play over and through them on every hole. Every par 3 is reachable and reasonable. There are bunkers scattered everywhere, but they stay out of the way of good shots.
It was hard to find anything we didn't love here. The word "Brainerd" is synonymous with "amazing golf." Mention that you played Madden's, Cragun's or Deacon's and everyone knows how blessed you are. But Golden Eagle should also be in that same grouping. A comparable experience (it's about 40 miles north of Brainerd) at a more affordable price, Golden Eagle is an isolated, serene beauty of a course. But it's well worth the drive, and it plays as perfectly in October as it does in May.
The design is spectacular, using the contours of the land to the greatest capacity. The elevation changes provide great views and, combined with wide-open fairways, they allow for maximum forgiveness off most tees. The greens are nearly perfect in firmness and condition, allowing for a true test of your putting skills. The tee boxes are a little beat up, but the fairways and greens are borderline immaculate. The pro shop service is a little sub-par, but at the end of the Minnesota golf season we're a little grumpy, too, so we'll cut them some slack. At Golden Eagle you are surrounded by hills, valleys, lakes, marshes, rivers and forests, and you play over and through them on every hole. Every par 3 is reachable and reasonable. There are bunkers scattered everywhere, but they stay out of the way of good shots. Holes 1 and 2 are par 5s, both reachable in two with a decent straight drive off the tee. Only #5 and #9 really threaten you on the front. Play the distance on #4; don't go down a club. (Loved the menu phone at the #9 tee box. We wish every course did this!)
The back nine is a different animal, with a bite to match its bark the first time you play it. Ten and 11 are stern tee shot tests, but 12 and 13 ("signature holes") are as magnificent and fun as golf gets. A fear of the unknown is well merited the rest of the way. The second shot on #14 isn't really fair; neither is the tee shot on #17. Expect to lay up on #14 and hate it. Better lay up on #17 or hate it. And #18 isn't a good finishing hole. That may sound a little harsh, but we loved everything else.