AREA GOLF Calling all golf phenoms: The West Course is calling
Brian Thuringer is putting his money where his mouth is.
The president of Madden’s Resort on Gull Lake is issuing a challenge to any and all golfers to break par on the Pine Beach West Golf Course.
If anyone can shoot 67 or better on the West, Thuringer will pay for the round of golf.
Thuringer doesn’t believe the West Course gets the play it should because it’s only a par 67 instead of the normal 72 found at other courses around the area.
“I would ask people, ‘Did you play the Pine Beach West Course,’ and they would reply ‘Yes, but it’s pretty easy,’” said Thuringer. “I would then ask, ‘Well, what did you shoot?’ and they said ‘50.’ They weren’t even getting close to what par is. 100 isn’t close to 67.
“It occurred to me that the game of golf was changing. Everything I was reading in the national golf publications was why golf wasn’t being played. One was because it takes too long to play a round and because it’s getting too hard. You can play the Pine Beach West in three hours and it’s challenging, but there isn’t any water you need to carry. Anyone of any age can play that course.”
There is just one sand bunker on the West and only one hole that has water. Both hazards happen to be on the same hole, the 126-yard, par-3 16th.
There are eight par 3s on the course and just two medium-length par 5s leading to the par 67. From the white tees or the tips, the West plays at 5,070 yards. That’s only 1,000 less than the white tees on The Classic at Madden’s.
From the women’s tee box the West plays at 4,382 yards. That’s just 500 yards shorter then the women’s tee boxes at The Classic.
“What happened to the game of golf is everyone wants to play The Classic, but they’re not playing it from 72,000 yards, they’re playing it from the forward tees,” said Thuringer. “All of a sudden everyone wants to be wearing their Bobby Jones shirt playing these difficult courses instead of playing the courses you can score on.
“Golf is supposed to be fun. Everybody of all ages can play the West Course. I just wanted to put the spotlight back on the courses that I think will build the game of golf. Those big courses can be discouraging at times.”
Thus the Owner’s Challenge came about two years ago. All of last year, and the first part of this golf season, only two people have broken par on the West. Former Brainerd boys golf coach and Madden’s seasonal employee Tom Younghans, with the help of a birch tree, is one of them with a 66. Thuringer said the only other time he’s heard of anyone breaking par was John Carlson’s 1-under 66 during the Madden’s $10,000 Challenge.
“People come in under par at the Pine Beach East Course and The Classic all the time,” said Thuringer. “It’s very rare to see anyone come in under par on the West.
“We have all these big hitters that think the West is so easy, you beat, I’ll buy the round, I’ll be happy to. So far only two people have done it. I’ll be really happy to by the round for anyone who can beat par on the West.”
I snuck out on the West Course Thursday and played 18 holes in two hours. It was a blast to play fast. Plus, the greens on the West are as good as you are going to find.
And no, a score of 67 or better was never in danger on my scorecard.
jeremy millsop, sports writer, may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5856.