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With two excellent Jeffrey Bauer courses, The Legend and The Quarry, Giants Ridge has long been on most Minnesota golfers’ must-play lists. Giants Ridge head professional John Kendall has been at the resort in Biwabik for 16 years, and has helped it grow into one of the top courses in the country. We talked with Kendall recently, and asked him five questions about those great northern Minnesota tracks.
Q: What makes The Quarry a consistent Top Public Golf Course in America?
A: More than anything, I think that the variety of holes golfers play at The Quarry is the reason it has been so well received. Jeffrey Brauer used the elevation changes on the property to create some memorable views and gave the course a look that you wouldn’t expect from northeast Minnesota. The par 3s and par 5s at The Quarry are all great, but for me, the par 4s really stand out. I’ve never played a course with as good a mix of outstanding short and long par 4s that are not only challenging to play but are also as picturesque as they are.
Q: How is The Quarry different from The Legend? Do they appeal to the same or different kinds of golfers?
A: I often tell people that haven’t been to Giants Ridge before that if you were shown pictures from each course you would never guess they were less than 2 miles apart. The Legend is what most people would expect from a northeast Minnesota golf course with beautiful lakes, tall pines and rolling terrain.
But The Quarry, built on a the site that was previously worked by the mining companies, offers a completely different look and feel from The Legend, with dramatic elevation changes and a much more rugged look to everything. Over the years, our guests have been equally divided as to which course is their favorite – which from our viewpoint is ideal.
Q: How is the golf experience at Giants Ridge different from what you’ll experience in the Brainerd Lakes Area?
A: I think Giants Ridge has a unique experience to offer golfers compared to other facilities in Minnesota. Our guests often comment on feeling like they truly get away from the hustle and bustle of their daily lives when here. The little things like not having a stoplight within 20 miles or not seeing tall buildings in the background makes it easier for people to feel like they are actually getting away for a vacation.
Q: Golfers love to play fast greens, but can greens be too fast on resort courses?
A: I think there is a time and place for speedy greens, but daily resort play is typically not the best venue for them. We will speed them up for special events or tournaments, but it does have a negative impact on playability for most of our daily guests. The greens at both of our courses are fairly undulating, so we like to keep them at a speed that fits their design. Anything past what was designed may prevent guests from enjoying their day.
Q: Why does someone want to travel to northern Minnesota to play the triumvirate of Jeffrey Brauer courses—The Legend, The Quarry and The Wilderness at Fortune Bay (in nearby Tower, Minn.)?
A: I feel that the combination of quality, value, and memorability of the three courses Jeffrey Brauer designed at Giants Ridge and Fortune Bay can easily stand up to anything in the Midwest, if not further. The beauty of not only the golf courses but also the surrounding areas makes for a memorable experience for all of our guests.