Area Golf: High praise heaped on humble Hoffmann

Jeff Simondet was shocked to hear Scott Hoffmann was retiring. As Hoffmann's former assistant, Simondet figured Hoffmann would never retire and believes the man who devoted 44 years to the golf courses and grounds of Madden's Resort in East Gull ...

Course superintendent Scott Hoffman on hole 11 at the Classic at Madden’s golf course. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Jeff Simondet was shocked to hear Scott Hoffmann was retiring.

As Hoffmann's former assistant, Simondet figured Hoffmann would never retire and believes the man who devoted 44 years to the golf courses and grounds of Madden's Resort in East Gull Lake will have a hard time staying away. Still a small party is planned at Madden's Monday, Dec. 10, to celebrate Hoffmann's dedication.

Simondet spent three years as an assistant superintendent at Madden's after doing both of his internships with Hoffmann. He's now the head superintendent at The Quarry at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.

"He was one of my biggest mentors," Simondet said. "He's very educated. He researches everything he does. He's very thorough with every decision he makes and the reason he does that is to put out the best possible product for the customers."

Simondet's first call if an issue arose on his course was to Hoffmann, who was president of the Minnesota Golf Course Superintendent Association in 1988.


Mike Bohenstingl made his own mark in the Brainerd lakes area as the head superintendent at The Pines at Grand View Lodge, but he learned and honed his craft under Hoffmann.

"I consider him a mentor and he's the reason I'm in this business and I've been in it for 33 seasons now," Bohenstingl said. "I worked with Scott for 11 years. He mentored a lot of guys. The business that we're in makes a person very humble and Scott would be the epitome of that. He's a very humble gentleman.

"He's always willing to help. I've called him many, many times since I've been at Grand View and asked for advice. I've tried to follow his example."

Bohenstingl doesn't consider his relationship a mentor-student type situation. He considers Hoffmann a close friend and he appreciates everything he learned from him.

"He was the one that urged me to go back to school," Bohenstingl said. "I already had a four-year degree when I was working for him. He urged me to go back to school if I wanted to stay in this business. He is extremely well-respected in the Minnesota Superintendents Association."

Tom Kientzle was key in the construction of the Pines at Grand View Lodge as well as The Legacy Courses at Cragun's Resort. Now he's running the Pine Beach East pro shop at Madden's and might be the saddest to see Hoffmann retire.

"Over the years I've grown to believe that you would always have him here," Kientzle said. "It's been such a long-term relationship. And it's not like we're not going to do stuff together. I'm going ice fishing with him next week, It's just that you grow comfortable knowing that he was there and now he won't be. To me, that's what is sad."

Kientzle said he would contact Hoffmann all the time concerning course maintenance issues. He stressed there was no one better to call.


"He's always willing to help," Kientzle said. "I would call him the authority on golf course care and maintenance. He's the authority in this area for sure and he was the president of our superintendent organization so he's respected in the entire state.

"If you had some issues or problems with your course, Scott was always the No. 1 person to call."

And as Bohenstingl would attest, Hoffmann was always there, which is why Simondet doesn't believe Hoffman can truly retire.

Matt McKinnon worked next to Hoffmann as the superintendent at Cragun's Legacy Courses and didn't know Hoffmann was retiring.

"I didn't realize he was done," McKinnon said. "I called his office the other day and his voicemail was still on.

"Earlier in my career here in Brainerd, I've called him with some questions and he's given me some good advice, especially this being a tough business and it's stressful and he's done it. You ask him how he does this, how he finds employees, how he manages to work such long hours every day."

Those long hours didn't go unnoticed by Bohenstingl.

"Bottom line is, the biggest thing he did for me was he helped instill a very good work ethic," Bohenstingl said. "To move up in this business or to get anywhere in this business you can't rest on your laurels. You can't be that guy who puts in his eight hours and then goes home and forgets about it. I worked with Scott before the Classic was built. We would come in during the evenings, Tuesday nights or Wednesday nights, to do some top dressing and Scott would drive back over. He was so devoted and committed to the golf courses it was like he was never off duty. My wife would accuse me of being that way. That comes from him."


Hoffmann's superintendent lineage is extensive. The roots of his wisdom run deep throughout Minnesota. His list of contacts is long. To some, including his daughter Brandy, he is painfully humble, which is why many people, even in the Brainerd lakes area, don't realize Hoffmann designed The Classic at Madden's. Nor do they realize how well respected of a design it is.

"From speaking with him, no, you wouldn't know he designed it," Simondet said. "Scott comes from an older generation. Usually, with the younger guys, there is a little bit of arrogance when it comes to something like that. Scott's very humble. The best guy I've ever had the pleasure of working for."

Bohenstingl understands why, but doesn't like the fact that Hoffmann shares the spotlight when it comes to the design credit.

"He wasn't looking for the spotlight," Bohenstingl said. "He was more than willing to share that. I used to drive by the Classic all the time and I look back on the stories and he always gave credit to Warren Rebholz of the MGA and John Harris. And I never asked Scott, but what I understood many years ago, Scott was checking with Harris about the length of holes. To me, that's very minimal, but he was willing to share the limelight with all those individuals that helped him get there.

"Again, that points to the humility. He's not out there looking for the spotlight."

Which is why there was no news release announcing Hoffmann's retirement. Even his closest friends didn't know for sure.

Like a true servant of the land, the man who made it his life making golf courses beautiful and healthy will dispense with the pomp and circumstance and will quietly go ice fishing with his friend.

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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