Area Golf: Boos honored by state
About the only golf event Fred Boos hasn't won was the one put on in his honor Monday.
Instead Jack Wawro, Boos' PGA golf professional, owned the course that Boos built, but the day still belonged to the man who had a vision that transformed the Brainerd lakes area into one of the world's top 50 golf destinations.
It was Boos' vision and the fact Grand View Lodge already owned the land that The Pines Golf Course set the area into a golf craze in 1990. Two decades later the Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame honored Boos for his vision and tenacity by naming him a member of the 2014 class of inductees.
Boos joins Bill Brask, Leigh Klasse, Betty Swanson, Craig Waryan and Lynn Esau Zmistowski as the newest member of the 88-person club.
As part of his induction, Boos hosted a scramble and lunch with about 100 of his golf friends at The Pines. But when Boos first got the call he thought someone was playing a joke.
"I thought originally I heard hall of shame," said Boos without cracking a smile. "My golf game is so bad. I broke my hip at 80 years old. At 79 I broke my hand. So my golf game is gone and I thought they were pulling my leg and said hall of shame because who puts a 32 handicapper in the hall of fame?"
Tom Ryan, executive director and chief operating officer of the Minnesota Golf Association (MGA) and Jon Tollette, executive director of the Minnesota Section PGA presented Boos with a plaque. Reading from a prepared statement Tollette said of Boos.
"As an avid golfer and the general manager of Grand View Lodge, Boos had a dream to bring championship golf to the Brainerd lakes area of Minnesota. That vision came true in 1990, when The Pines at Grand View Lodge opened for play. It's safe to say that the golf tourism explosion that followed in northern Minnesota would not have happened without Boos' dream becoming a reality. Since 1990, Minnesota's golf tourism spending has increased ten-fold to more than $350 million annually, and The Pines and many of the other championship resort courses that followed are now nationally ranked and recognized as leading golf destinations in the United States.
"A supporter of golf championships, The Pines and The Preserve courses at Grand View Lodge have hosted several state championships including the Minnesota Section PGA Championship, Minnesota Golf Association Net Team and Senior Players' championships, as well as several other high school, junior and senior events."
But it wasn't easy. As Boos told the crowd gathered in Freddy's Grille, he needed to be a con-man in order to not only make his dream a reality, but to then sell it to the golfing community.
"We owned the land, back in those days, I wasn't a golfer, but either was anybody in our company," said Boos. "Owning the land is the biggest expense of the golf course. I wasn't impressed with what was in the area, yet I knew that we were the No. 1 tourist area in all of Minnesota. So back in 1965 I went to our board and said, 'We own the land. Let's build a golf course.' No. No. No. In 1988, I thought these no votes will go on forever because there are no golfers in the company. We needed an outside director on our board. So I found a friend who was the retired finance chairman of General Mills in Jim Weaver. They voted to put him on the board. I gave him information for this golf course and made him chairman of the finance committee. He comes to the next meeting and says, 'Gentlemen, a no brainer. Absolutely, a no brainer.
"They all voted yes."
The Pines opened two years later and what followed was a golf course boom with all the other resorts following Boos' lead.
"Madden's and Cragun's came through," said Boos. "Breezy came through. So now I think we're in the top 50 in the world of golf destinations. It helped all of us. It just makes sense. People think I have to have the best. But to (heck) with them. The Brainerd lakes area needed what now is here. But it took a long time."
Alyssa (Herron) Super provided the comic relief. Boos' usual "Ringer" on his golf tournament teams compared Boos to a pull tab, but said Minnesota won the lottery when Boos and Grand View jumped into the golf business.
"Fred Boos has been a huge part of Minnesota golf."
Boos, who celebrated his 81st birthday, singled out Mark Ronnei, current GVL general manager, and Tom Kientzle Jr., who was the project manager for the Joel Goldstrand design.
"I think the whole area was ready for it," said Kientzle. "I think it was the lemonade stand in the middle of the desert. Everyone was just waiting for a really nice championship course so I really wasn't that shocked when it took off. At the same time when you're working on it and doing it, the reason I was so excited and really into it was because I was going to get to play it when it was done. That was my whole big thing. I just wanted to tee it up and play the thing."
Ronnei joked that the only reason Boos built The Pines was so he could beat everybody.
"It's amazing that no matter where you go and golf in the state of Minnesota people know Mr. Boos," said Ronnei.
Boos' response: "Those are the guys who really did this. I paid for a little of it, but they did the whole thing. So I got way too much credit then I should have had. But the funny thing is that two of my best, closest friends today are Tommy Kientzle and Mark Ronnei.