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Golfers play No. 17 at The Preserve Golf Course near Pequot Lakes. This hole will undergo renovation. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls

Area Golf: Preserving the Preserve

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sports Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

Preserving The Preserve is this fall's project at Grand View Lodge.

On Sept. 29, The Preserve at Grand View Lodge will be closed for reconstruction to the course and clubhouse. The project's highlight will be hole No. 5 -- often considered the course's signature hole not because of its breathtaking views, but rather its difficulty.

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The 438-yard par 4 fifth hole is the No. 1 handicap hole, meaning the hardest of the 18 holes. Two large wetlands defend the fairway and green. It's the second marsh area that causes most golfers headaches.

"We're going to take the greenside marsh, because there are two marshes you need to carry and the greenside one is the bigger of the two, it's tough to negotiate for the higher handicaps, we're going to reduce the size of it," said Preserve head PGA professional Nathan Erickson. "We're going to move backwards that way instead of moving into the fairway. Right now the marsh is about 18,000 square feet. We're going to reduce the marsh to about half. That will make it much more manageable for the higher handicaps and the ladies that really struggle with that hole.

"We're looking forward to making that green complex a little bit more receptive."

Erickson said the slopes around the fifth green will also be reworked to be more forgiving. Waste bunkers and other design elements will be used to keep errant shots from kicking into the marsh. The Preserve had put a tee box near the second marsh and made it a par 3 hole in hopes of speeding up play and reducing scores.

"It's always a bottleneck hole for any tournament we host," said Erickson. "Especially if people aren't familiar with it. We try to look at it using the GPS and try to explain it to people who are checking in for the first time. We'll eliminate that problem with this project."

In the same corner of the property, the sixth tee box and fairway also will be redone.

"When you look at the sixth hole from the tee box you can't really see that hole," said Erickson. "We're going to use the first 50 to 75 yards of fairway and use that turf on our tee boxes throughout the course and just reduce the size of the fairway so you can actually see the hole. The common theme of The Preserve is elevated tees, hitting down into the fairway. It will feel like that from that tee complex as well."

The 171-yard par 3 17th hole will also get a facelift in hopes of making it the new signature hole.

"We're going to isolate that hole from the rest of the golf course," said Erickson. "On the left side we're going to plant a lot of trees and get some red maples to get color. Then on the back side we have a few pine trees back there, but we'll improve those a little bit. Then on the right there is the pond we're hoping to move closer to the green to make it more visual. We're hoping that will make it much more appealing to the eye."

All the tee boxes will be enlarged and cart paths will be redone.

Elevated tee boxes and panoramic views are two highlights to The Preserve golfing experience. Getting the most out of those assets is a big reason for the clubhouse renovation and work on the patio.

The highlight of the clubhouse project will be the patio overlooking the the first, ninth, 10th and 18th holes.

New glass railings will be installed and the lilac bushes below the patio will be reduced to produce better views of the course. The lower level of the two-story patio will be turned into a lounge area, while the upper half will be used for dining.

"We've had groups sitting out there and they'll wager on shots coming into 18 or on people teeing off on 10," said Erickson. "They have a great time when they're doing it, but I'd like to see more people regularly out there."

Paint and new carpet throughout the building is planned. A new floor and air conditioning is in the works for the recreation area just off the dining area. The loss of a wall that separated the pro shop and restaurant is in the works to create a better flow throughout the building.

Work was done in 2011 and 2012 on the Lakes and Woods nine of The Pines at Grand View. This is the first major reconstruction to The Preserve, which opened in 1996.

The final price tag is almost $1,000,000. The reopening of the course is tentatively scheduled for early next summer.

"There are a lot of great things already about the course, but there are certain holes that need to be fixed to make it better and more playable," said Frank Soukup, director of marketing for Cote Family Companies. "With our clientele and guests, there is always this level of experience that they want to increase and increase. With our golf courses, every single time you drive up to a golf hole, we want it to be an individual experience on that hole. You're not looking at anything else. You're concentrated on the hole. We want you to have fun with the environment you're in."

That environment is another asset to The Preserve. Set off away from Highway 371 south of Pequot Lakes, there are no houses or building of any kind on the course. It's the very definition of a destination course. Preserving that feel and making the course more enjoyable for everyone is the reason for the project.

"There is a trend away from golf right now, and I'm not saying we're bullet-proof to that trend, but I think that people are up here on vacation and they want to spend time doing things," said Erickson. "People want to come up here and play these courses."

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