Category Archives: Behind the Scenes

What happens at Madden’s behind the swinging kitchen door, in the offices, and more

Madden’s Golf Course Maintenance Sustainability Program

Our program was started out of a desire to promote bent grass vs. annual bluegrass on our golf courses. Bentgrass is a grass that requries less inputs from fertilizer, water and pesticides and is hardier in times of weather related stresses. It also provides a firmer more consistant playing surface than annual bluegrass.

The bent grasses originated in the sandy seaside of Scotland where golf began. The grasses grew and thrived in this sterile sandy environment where crops would not thrive. This fact is a big part of the changing paradigm of growing a crop versus creating a surface to play on.

Our program does not go to the extent of starvation programs that are common in Scotland where both climate and golfer’s expectations and perception allow for brown golf courses. We strive to reach a happy medium where we can still provide a green golf course, but one that is lean and promotes bentgrass over annual bluegrass.

We accomplish this primarily through the use of iron sulfate to provide green color. This in combination with judicial use of fertilizer and pesticides coupled with growth regulators helps us accomplish our goal of growing the grass very slowly. As we grow the grass more slowly we have less issues with thatch and organic matter development which translates into less inputs from pesticides and cultural practices such as mowing, core aerification, pesticide and water usage. A very important aspect of this program requires us to reduce compaction through the monthly use of “solid tining” and “venting” which can be accomplished with minimal disruption to the playing surface.

So far we have seen a dramatic increase in bentgrass populations on our East and West course greens where we went from 30-70% annual bluegrass to almost 90% bent grass. The Classic being newer was seeded to bentgrass and had much less annual bluegrass to deal with but we were starting to see encroachment. We have been able to stem the tide and are keeping it at around 5-10% of the population.

Allowing natural fescues to grow on our golf courses reduces inputs like mowing and fertilizing

Our fertilizer and pesticide budget has been reduced by about 25%, but more importantly we are growing a healthier turf with far less inputs that  provides a superior surface to play on.

This year we have also initiated a program on our Pine Beach East golf course to bring back some of the fescues on mounds and out of play rough areas that is more in keeping with the original golf course built back in the 1920’s. Although a bit controversial to the crowd that like to see everything manicured on a golf course the majority of players have loved the “look” of the wispy fescues and have commented that they provide a nice contrast and definition to the golf course. It has allowed us to take about 6 acres out of our regular maintenance of mowing, fertilizing and watering.

Scott, Director of Golf at Madden’s


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Sustainability at Madden’s: A Way of Life

At Madden’s sustainability is a daily way of life. Ask any employee from our golf course maintenance to laundry staff and from front desk to food and beverage staff; they each could tell you at least a few things about our green initiative. Built from a “seed” of an idea by President Brian Thuringer in 2008, our green program covers all aspects of resort life.

The initiative is led by a Green Team made up of staff volunteers who want to help make the world a little greener. The team is made up of members of Madden’s management team and seasonal employees. There are representatives from all departments on the resort.

Having representatives from all departments on the resort is essential to the success of the program as each department plays a role in its success. Here are some specific things departments are doing:

Food & Beverage Department:

Our horticulture team works on our newest herb garden at The Classic Grill

Herb Gardens: On-site vegetable and herb gardens reduce shipping costs and our carbon footprint while providing our guests with fresh produce and herbs.

Wine selection: Since the incorporation of the green program we have begun to serve more wines from vinters who practice sustainable or organic viticulture. Sustainable viticulture: wine produced with the goal of producing the finest and healthiest grapes while conserving resources, maintaining the environment, and cultivating positive relationships with employees and surrounding communities. Organic viticulture: Wine produced based on local organic regulations with the standard premise of avoiding all chemical fertilizers and chemical pest controls.

Placemats replace table linens and flowers are fresh cut from Madden's gardens.

Dinnerware: All outdoor bars and dining areas utilize reusable glasses and dinnerware.

Placemats: Placemats replace table linens to reduce laundry energy and water consumption.

Fresh Cut Flowers: Flowers used in dining areas are fresh cut from Madden’s gardens. This reduces our carbon footprint by minimizing transportation costs.

Property Management

Vending Energy Misers: Recently installed vending misers help save energy daily by automatically monitoring the lighting and temperature in vending machines. If no one is around the vending machine, the lights will shut off. It also montiors room temperature and runs the cooling system when neccessary.

Faucet Aerators: Faucet aerators have been installed in all of our guest rooms to help save water.

Light Bulbs: Energy efficient lightbulbs have been installed throughout the property to reduce energy usage.

“Exit” Lights: Emergency Exit lights have been converted to LED light bulbs.

Efficiency Assessments: We have examined areas where heating and air-conditioning efficiencies may be improved with additional insulation.

Air Conditioning Units: We have phased out older air conditioning units to upgrades that will improve our energy efficiency.

Grounds & Golf Department:

Allowing natural fescues to grow on our golf courses reduces inputs like mowing and fertilizing

Transitioning to Bent Grass: Bent grass on our golf course allow for less maintenance expenses with a slower growth rate.

Natural Fescues: Allowing fescues to grow on mounds and out of play rough areas has decreased input costs like mowing and fertilizing while adding to the pristine natural view of our golf courses.

Reduced fertilizer and pesticides: By increasing our bent grass populations and adding fescues we have reduced our use of fertilizers and pesticide use by 25% with lower inputs in maintenance such as mowing and venting.

Look for a post later this week to learn more about our sustainability effort on our golf courses.

Laundry Department

Ozone Laundry System: Our property’s overall carbon footprint was significantly reduced with this new Ozone system. We greatly reduced our natural gas consumption and improved sewage water quality by 30-50%.

Staff Training

Staff members can "bust" a co-worker for not being green

“Cut the Juice:” Staff are trained on our green program in their orientation and are expected to follow our guidelines at work and for our live-on seasonal staff, at home as well. We encourage staff to “Cut the juice when not in use.”

Green Award: We take nominations for a monthly Green Award recipient. Madden’s staff are recognized for going above and beyond when it comes to being sustainable.

“Busted:” We’ve implemented programs for a staff to add a little fun to staying green. When an employee catches another employee not being green (like not shutting off lights or computer monitors) they can post a “Busted for not being green” sign on that staff member’s desk or light switch.

All Around Green

Karen's little red recycling wagon is towed by a red FarmAll tractor

Daily recycling: Karen Enberg is well-known around the resort as the recylcing lady. Her full-time job is daily pick up and transference of recyclables including cardboard, paper/office waste, plastics, steel, aluminium, and glass.

Purchasing Green Products: All new room amenities are made of recyclable plastic. All new appliances and equipment carry the “Energy Star” seal when available. All restrooms have been converted to using Green Seal Certified soap and paper towels made from 100% recycled material, made by using a chlorine-free process which reduces water usage by 80%

Guest Rooms: Guest rooms contain informational signage for sheet and towel changing program. Each room also has a recycling bag with a card encouraging guests to recycle plastic, glass, aluminum, and newspapers. Finally there is signage to encourage guests to shut off lights and air conditioning when not in use.

Signage in Guest Rooms Encourage Guests to Recycle

Reduce, Reuse, Donate

All guest room amenities are made with recylcable plastic bottles. Leftover amenities are dontated to local charities.

Green Range Renewable Energy: All used fryer oil is locally recycled to make biodiesel fuel.

Guest room amenities: Leftover guest room amenities like soap and shampoo donated to local charities.

Furniture: Mattresses and other furniture items are donated to local Habitat for Humanity and the Bridging Organization serving families in transition.

Batteries: All AA batteries from guest door locks are reused to completion in resort paging system.

**Check back throughout the week for more posts about the sustainability effort at Madden’s. Thanks for reading, Elizabeth**


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Madden Family Tradition Continues as Fourth Generation Joins the Fun

Madden’s on Gull Lake has always been a family owned and operated resort. It began when the first piece of the resort was purchased in 1936 by Jack and his uncle Tom Madden. Since then, the tradition has continued. Whether you see family members strolling around the resort and mingling with guests or working hard behind the scenes in various roles such as decorating & design, managing lodging, or working in sales, the Madden family tradition persists daily here.

The 4th generation joins the fun at Madden's. (l-r) Beau Thuringer and Charlie Pieper enjoy a "little" round of golf

Generations of Madden’s:

1st generation: Jack Madden & Jim Madden
– – Opened resort with their uncle Tom in 1936

2nd generation: Brian & Deb (Madden) Thuringer
– – Current owners. Brian, President/General Manager
– – Deb, Vice President/

3rd generation: Ben & Becky Thuringer and Abbey (Thuringer) & Brad Pieper
– – Ben, Vice President/General Manager of the Lodge
– – Abbey, Vice President/

4th generation: Beau Thuringer and Charlie Pieper (pictured above)

Interested in learning more about the Madden family tradition?
The Star Tribune published an article recently and we have a more detailed post on our website.

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Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Behind the Scenes, Family Time


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Bagpiper Rings Out the Golf Season

For 6 years now, Madden’s have taken on the the Scottish tradition of putting the golf course to sleep by playing bag pipe music. We don’t “tuck in” the golf course every night, but twice a year we use the signature sounds of a live bag pipe. Once to open the golf season in April and again in October to close the season.

The idea stemmed from a visit to Pebble Beach golf resort in Pebble Beach, California. President Brian Thuringer enjoyed their tradition of the Scottish bagpiper playing every evening to put the golf course to sleep. He loved the idea and so we have incorporated it into our opening and closing traditions.

Opening the golf courses: At 7:30 am Saturday morning of Opening Party in April, the bag piper walks across the Pine Beach East golf course (playing the pipes), comes into the lobby, plays for about 15 minutes, then walks down the hall into the hotel lobby and magically disappears.

Closing the golf courses: At high noon of our closing day in October (typically Sunday), the performance is reversed.  He starts in the lower lobby of the hotel, plays in the lobby, then walks across the Pine Beach East course and disappears into thin air.

The bagpiper in the photo is Michaeal Breidenbach. He is the Director of piping at Macalaster College.  and is the Pipe Major of their Grade 3 competition band. He has been a full time bagpipe teacher and performer since 1999. Click here to learn more about Michael and his Bagpipe Associates.

Brian Solum, of Bemidji has also piped for us in the past. He started piping in 1993 with the Macalester College Pipe Band in St. Paul, MN.  After relocating to Bemidji in 1999 he formed the 1st City Pipe Band, which eventually dissolved in 2005, and simultaneously assisted the Fort Frances
Highlanders in Ontario, Canada.  These days he is back touring and competeing with Macalester’s G3 Band under Michael Breidenbach (our other piper!).

What you need to know:

What: The Bagpiper putting the course to sleep for the winter.
Where: Pine Beach East golf course
When: October 23, 2011, at 12 pm.


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Madden’s Memories 2011

We have just over one month left in our season. We’re starting to get a little sad! Madden’s is not only a job we come to each day, it is our passion! For me, Madden’s main blogger, this summer was just plain fun! I got to do nearly everything around the resort plus some! I’ve flown in two airplanes (a seaplane and a biplane)  in my short tenure as our blogger. I’ve taken gone on the Gull Lake Water Expedition, taken a ranch tour, gone horseback riding and trap shooting. I’ve been able to hone my photography snapping shots of families, kids playing at Adventure Cove, and some awesome landscapes and flowers. There is so much more I”ve done, but I don’t want to bore you. I’ve decided to share some of my favorite pictures and one video to give you a glimpse into my summer as the Madden’s blogger.

Enjoy, Elizabeth

A bee enjoyed the Liatris flower even more than I did.

The Seawood family

At Madden's we can make anything happen. A group requested a path of American flags to guide their guests to event destinations.

An immature bald eagle perches outside of its parents' nest.

Herb Garden at The Classic Grill in early summer

Mary Alverson offers Seaplane certification at Madden's. She is pictured with her restored 1969 Piper Super Cub

Our horticulture team works on our newest herb garden at The Classic Grill early this summer

A view of one of the peninsulas in Gull Lake from a seaplane.

Madden's guests enjoying the natural sand beach at the Lodge including water toys at our water park.

A mother and daughter prepare for their ride at the Outback Ranch

The entrance to Madden's

The beach at Madden Lodge

The McManus-Hanson's pose for me at the welcome reception on July 1st.

The Hanson-Syverson family poses in the well-known Madden's chair.

Facepainting at the welcome reception on July 1st.

My biplane ride with Clay Adams of Nostalgic Wings

View of Madden's from my biplane ride

Pottery from local artists are available for purchase at the Stable Gallery

Children play at Madden's waterpark

Brother and sister enjoy badminton at Madden's Tennis & Croquet Club.

By the end of our ranch tour, this little girl had built up the courage to pet a horse for the first time.

Head Golf Pro at Madden's, Glenn Hagberg, talks a young boy through how to swing a golf club his first time.

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Posted by on September 22, 2011 in Behind the Scenes


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A Look into the Life of a Professional Angler

Dan Eigen has taken the name of Walleyedan as he pursues his fishing guide service business.

At Madden’s resort we are fortunate to have a local fishing guide service we can refer our guests to when they are looking for some fishing fun: Walleyedan’s fishing guide service. Walleyedan has written a few guest posts on fishing conditions for us this summer (June 14, July 8, July 15) and now for our week of fishing blog posts, we decided to do a little interview with Walleyedan himself to get a look into the life of a professional angler.

When did you first start fishing?
I started fishing around the age of 5. I grew up in Eden Prairie when it was still somewhat the prairie and I was within walking distance of Round Lake. I spent countless hours there fishing, catching frogs (to use for fishing) and just being a kid. The outdoor living just progressed by the day, week and year and it became my life. I am now 43.

How did you become “Walleyedan”?
I was given the name Walleyedan by a co-worker when I was working in the parks department for the city of Baxter. I had been out fishing (and caught a load of walleyes) with Bud and his son a week or so prior to setting up and email account at the city. I asked him what my address should be and he, without hesitation said “Walleyedan”. The rest is history!

I enjoy hunting for walleyes but I just like to put people on fish period, no matter what the species.

What is your favorite part of your job as a fishing guide?
The best part of my job is being outdoors and meeting every type of person on the face of this earth.  Of course there are pressures with the job but most days I can handle them and as the years march on it seems to get a
little easier to handle the “tough days.”

What fishing opportunities do you provide to Madden’s guests and the Brainerd Lakes area?
Whether you are a first time fisher or a veteran angler we will provide you with the trip you are looking for.  We do fish with a lot of families and will cater to what they are looking to get out of their trip.  We can start with the pan fish and try to graduate to the bass, pike and even walleye if that is the plan.  If our guests want to only pursue the elusive walleye we are totally game for that.  During the summer months, the best approach seems to be to fish for walleye’s for a couple hours and if the “bite” is on, great if not we will just try to get the rod bending.  Gull Lake does offer a wide variety of game fish and there are days you might catch a few different species.  If the guest would like to keep some fish we will clean and package them up.  The walleye “bite” seems to pick up in mid-August and run right through ice-up (with a slow period mixed in around the fall
turnover).  Turnover usually occurs in mid-October when the cooler (more dense) water sinks and mixes with the rest of the water column. I have open water guided as late as December 13th!  But two weeks later we were
ice fishing.

Thank you Dan for your service to Madden’s guests and for sharing your story! Elizabeth


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The Best Week of the Year at Madden’s

I made my way down to the Lodge recently in hopes of getting the opportunity to meet a family who has been staying at Madden’s “for like 50 some years” as reported to me by various employees around the resort. As I walked up to the front desk I inquired about this family. “Oh,” the front desk agent replied, “She’s just walking in now!” Our agent went on to introduce me to a Mrs. Marion Dorfman. Marion asked me what I needed and I told her I had come down to interview her if she was willing. She was happy to speak with me. Actually she was very happy to. She and I chatted for a good half hour. She told me so many stories about her stays at Madden’s for the last 56 years… that’s right, fifty-six. Fifty-six years of enjoying what she claimed to be the best week of the year at Madden’s.

Marion Dorfman is at home in the Lodge lobby. She reports having taken naps in this very spot on more than one occasion relaxing to Frank Sinatra music.

I do want to tell you a little more about Marion, but before I do, I want to tell you about the best week of the year at Madden’s.

The best week of the year at Madden’s is the week when guests at the Lodge expect to see their friends from last fifty some years. Marion reported she always gets a little sad when she notices someone is missing from last year. “We’re always happy to know they picked a different week,” she stated. Because after coming back for over 50 years, sometimes those folks that are missing have passed on to a better place.

The best week of the year at Madden’sis when you walk in the door to check-in humming the theme song from Cheers, “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name…”

The Seawood family enjoying their first "best week of the year at Madden's."

The best week of the year at Madden’s is when the chef makes homemade rhubarb sauce all week upon special request for a loyal guest.

The best week of the year at Madden’s is when Nellie at the front desk announces, “Mrs. D (Marion) is here. It doesn’t dare rain!” And, it never has.

The best week of the year at Madden’s is when you can laugh and remember years ago when you used to come here and folks came to dinner dressed up in suits and wearing gloves.

The best week of the year at Madden’s is the week when you get to check in on your family friends you see once a year. “Look how much Bobby has grown this year!” “Wow, Jenny, you’re married already?” The same family friends that call when they read in the paper that your younger brother just got married or that your parents are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.

A birthday party at a private dining room during the best week of the year at Madden's.

And you know the I greatest thing I learned about the best week of the year at Madden’s? After several interviews I learned the best week of the year at Madden’s is whenever YOU are here.

Shortly after interviewing Marion I learned she was not the specific person I had been given a lead on interviewing. Appparently many families have traditions reaching the 50 year mark in “her week.” And I think that is the charm of Madden’s. Marion explained it by sharing, “There is something about this place that is magical. I feel. My kids feel it. Now my grandkids feel it.” It was one of those moments that makes you want to tear up just listening.

I invite you to join us at Madden’s. Don’t you deserve your own best week of the year tradition?



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