Area Golf: Hoffmann continues to get hands dirty even in retirement
Retired Madden's Resort head superintendent staying connected to the golf world by spreading knowledge instead of fertilizer.
Scott Hoffmann’s definition of retirement is a little different than most.
Instead of wasting away on a Brainerd lakes area beach sipping umbrella drinks, Hoffmann started a new business after retiring as head superintendent at Madden’s Resort in East Gull Lake after 44 years.
Hoffman now runs Scott Hoffmann Golf which helps with golf course design, construction, supervision and greenkeeping consulting. From early brainstorming designs to course modifications to daily maintenance practices, Hoffmann’s experience is sought after.
Proof can be found in three area golf courses that Hoffmann’s hands have touched recently.
One example can be found at the Whitebirch Golf Course at Breezy Point Resort.
“We did some bunker and tee work there,” Hoffmann said. “We realigned a hole to fit in better with a housing project and at the same time creating some visual and strategic interest. Also working with Breezy agronomically as they have made a commitment to bring their golf properties to the very top level for the area.
“I think most people would be stunned to realize you could buy a top of the line BMW for what their new GPS sprayer costs but when you consider Deacon’s Lodge has 55 acres of fairways to spray and you can potentially save 15-20% on fertilizer and chemical costs as well as time savings it can begin to make sense. It’s not for all golf courses but for them it is proving to be a prudent purchase. I really enjoy working with some top-notch superintendents like Ed Thomas at Deacon’s and I still don’t know how Mark Johnson at Whiteirch and Traditional can wear all the hats he does.”
While at Madden’s, Hoffmann wore many hats as well. He’s best known for his design of The Classic at Madden’s, which is consistently voted one of Golf Digest’s Top 100 Public Golf Courses and recently voted No. 7 in Minnesota by Golfweek.
But at the age of 21, Hoffmann began as the golf course superintendent at Madden’s. As the resort grew so did his responsibilities. Now Madden’s is a 63-hole golf resort destination.
“My first love is at Madden’s and I had a lot of fun working with Lucian Greeninger and Ben Thuringer last year to help Lucian ease into his new job a bit,” Hoffmann said. “He is a very capable superintendent with two excellent assistants in Scott Moede at The Classic and Jeff Jenkins at the East, West and Social 9. They have done a marvelous job.
“I warned him, but I think he was still a little stunned at the commitment the resort grounds require in addition to the golf courses, but he has a wonderful staff and they have not missed a beat.”
Hoffmann’s new business venture comes with two purposes. To design golf holes that are challenging yet pleasurable, aesthetic and yet maintainable. The second is to consult agronomically with existing properties for the promotion of bentgrass.
The latter happened at Whitefish Golf Club near Pequot Lakes.
“It was incredibly beneficial,” Whitefish General Manager and head PGA professional Steve Bengtson said. “It’s always good to have, whether you go visit somewhere else or have someone come on the prosperity. It was good to have someone come in with a fresh set of eyes. Things change, and definitely agronomy practices have changed. What Scott is doing is different from what most superintendents are taught, including himself. The way he does things, particularly with the greens, is to create an environment where bentgrass will flourish. It’s different from what a lot of people are taught, but the end result is a better putting surface.”
The consulting was done last year and Bengtson said the results were quick to see.
“I really enjoyed working with Steve Bengston and Rick Ellestad at Whitefish improving their old style push up greens by removing the poa and bringing the surfaces back to bentgrass,” Hoffmann said. “We firmed them up creating smoother, quicker ball roll. Another really well run, fun golf course in the area totally committed to the game and their patrons.”
Hoffmann said his vision or goal is to combine design and maintenance criteria with affordable construction and sustainable maintenance practices developed and honed over 40 years. To put it simpler: “Minimal input for maximum impact.”
One of the more impactful projects Hoffmann has worked on was at Whitetail Run in Wadena. While the grass is still growing Kevin Ross, head PGA professional at Whitetail, is excited about the changes.
“He put in 16 forward tees and reshaped some of the fairways so you can actually see the greens,” Ross said. “He put in three or four visible traps. Those aren’t good for people, but they look really good.”
Ross mentioned it was the first major renovation at Whitetail since they built the back nine in 1995.
“He’s a professional and he can see things we don’t see,” Ross said. “We’re here every day and we’re looking at things every day, but then he comes in and there it is. It was a good project. It will help us down the line.”
Hoffmann fell in love with course design early in his career. One of his priorities, as he designs holes and courses now, is to make sure it’s accessible and fun for all abilities.
“Our goal at Whitetail was to make the golf course more enjoyable for the senior, women and beginner golfers,” Hoffmann said. “The bunkers added some additional strategy and aesthetic appeal to what is, if you haven’t played there, a very nice and well-maintained golf course. One of my diamond in the rough picks in Minnesota.”
Hoffmann is currently working on a nine-hole addition and a five-hole private course using artificial greens.
“I’m trying to decide how far I am willing to travel,” Hoffmann said about his new venture. “After all I am retired but I really enjoy working with and keeping in touch with some great people and properties.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.