Hit the Water in Michigan with These Extreme Sports

Summertime in Michigan means many things, but typically the most popular and memorable activities happen on the water. Between swimming, boating and fishing, there are countless ways to relax while taking in the Great Lakes state.

If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, however, check out these five thrilling sports that can serve as the highlight of the season.

1. Shipwreck Diving

Since Michigan is surrounded by large bodies of water, it is one of the best places to explore shipwrecks. Experience history firsthand by visiting one of the many sites where you can visit ships now resting on the lake floor. Even if you aren’t a diver, there are options for charter tours with glass bottoms perfect for making memories while staying dry.

Explore shipwrecks resting at the bottom of the Great Lakes

Suggested locations: Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (Alpena), Grand Traverse Bay Underwater Preserve (Traverse City) and the Sanilac Shores Underwater Preserve (Port Sanilac).

 2. Kiteboarding

Want to try something new and exhilarating? Look no further than kiteboarding. Kiteboarding is a surface water sport combining aspects of wakeboarding, snowboarding, windsurfing and paragliding, among others, into one extreme sport. This sport is made possible through a large controllable power kite to be propelled across the water on a kiteboard similar to a wakeboard or a small surfboard.

Kiteboarding lets you harness the water and the air in one great sport

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @thawanderer88

Suggested locations: St. Clair Shores, Traverse City and East Tawas.

 3. Sea (Lake) Kayaking

A “silent sport,” kayaking speaks to our souls. Explore sea caves, channels and coves or travel pristine rivers, enjoying the serenity of a peaceful paddle or the thrill of riding heart-stopping rapids. Kayaking is also your best chance to experience the spectacular seasonal scenery and abundant wildlife of the water’s edge. Sea kayaking is more rigorous than regular kayaking, so expect a healthy arm workout when heading out onto one of the Great Lakes.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the U.P. is an ideal sea kayaking adventure

Photo Courtesy of Courtney Kotewa

Suggested locations: Port Austin and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Munising).

4. Parasailing

This high-flying experience is the thrill of a lifetime. Take in the sights of your surroundings as a giant parachute sends you soaring hundreds of feet above the water. Through parasailing, you’re able to see many unique Michigan destinations from an aerial perspective while being refreshed by the splashing freshwater below.

See the Mackinac Bridge from above through a parasailing adventure

Photo Courtesy of Mackinaw Parasailing

Suggested locations: Mackinaw City and Harbor Springs.

5. Great Lakes surfing

Surf’s up! Though it is believed that Great Lakes breakers were first surfed nearly a century ago, and possibly much earlier by native peoples, the first significant wave of participants arrived in the 1960s. The west coast surf craze was leaking into Middle America, and small surfing communities sprouted across the Great Lakes. Michigan was at the forefront and today, surfing on the ‘Third Coast’ is more popular than ever. The waves are typically small in the summer, which makes it the perfect time to learn to surf. The big waves and prime surfing time is during the fall, winter and spring.

St. Joseph offers great surfing for both beginners and veterans depending on the season

Photo Courtesy of Josh Nowicki

Suggested locations: New Buffalo and St. Joseph.

Which of these extreme water sports have you tried? Share with us by commenting below!

5 Michigan Sunrise to Sunset Golf Itineraries

Summer is officially here and more daylight hours means more time to enjoy golf in Michigan.

Michigan is consistently named among the best golf destinations in the country and the long summer days make Michigan perfect for teeing off to a sunrise, finding incredible twilight pricing and ending your day as the sun sets over the landscape.  Read more on five sunrise to sunset Michigan golf itineraries to take advantage of this summer:

Crystal Mountain is beautiful no matter the time of day

Photo Courtesy of Janina Parrott Jacobs

1. Southwest Michigan

Southwest Michigan, on the shores of Lake Michigan, is home to several courses that attract golfers of all skill levels.  The Benton Harbor/St. Joseph area offers courses where you can spend a sunrise to sunset golf day.

Sunrise

Start your morning with the views at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor.  This Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course offers diverse terrain and a beautiful setting – three holes have Lake Michigan views, 11 holes border Paw Paw River, Ox Creek and its wetlands and four holes wind through rolling hills, ravines and a hardwood forest.

Afternoon

Over at Berrien Hills Golf Club, also in Benton Harbor, holes 6, 16, and 17 are adjacent to the scenic, tree-lined St. Joseph River. When you reach Berrien’s “19th hole,” it’s time to relax in the clubhouse with your favorite beverage and something delicious to snack on at Ray’s on the Green while appreciating your picturesque vantage point overlooking the course and river.

Berrien Hills is a beautiful rolling course

Photo Courtesy of the Southwest Michigan Tourist Council

Sunset

Lake Michigan Hills is always rated at the top of the Southwest Michigan public golf courses, and when  you can end your day enjoying a beautiful sunset, it’s a day well spent.

Lake Michigan Hills is one of many pristine Michigan courses

Photo Courtesy of Lake Michigan Hills

2. Northern Michigan

America’s Summer Golf Capital

Home to America’s Summer Golf Capital, this region has lured the world’s finest golf architects in search of the perfect setting to create 29 championship golf courses.

America’s Summer Golf Capital offers eight tours that are already assembled, so you can enjoy your golf vacation without the tedious planning.  For a premier sunrise-to-sunset experience, try the ‘Northern Gems’ and ‘Prestige & Awe’ tours.

Northern Gems

Start at Crystal Mountain at sunrise, choosing from the Mountain Ridge course, with fairways winding through stately forests and ascending to high elevations, or Betsie Valley, a course that will challenge the ability of any golfer with its protected greens, tree lined fairways and challenging bunkers.

Spend your afternoon at one of three courses at Grand Traverse Resort:  The Bear, ranked the 18th toughest course in America according to Golf Digest; The Wolverine, Gary Player’s first signature course in Michigan; or Spruce Run, the resort’s original course that is both fun and challenging to play.

End your day taking in the scenic views and incredible sunsets over Grand Traverse Bay at LochenHeath -  a private course that offer limited outside play. LochenHeath is a Scottish links-style golf course meticulously carved from a 300-acre cherry orchard.

3. Shanty Creek, Bellaire

Part of America’s Summer Golf Capital, Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire has four full-length courses that feature a variety of challenges for the bucket list golfer to the beginner, where you can easily spend an entire day golfing.

The Summit course offers beginners several PGA-led initiatives to ease players into the game including forward par-three tees on every hole and big 18” cups on every green (in addition to standard cups).

Sunrise

Start your day at Cedar River Golf Club.  Cut through the hardwoods of Antrim County, the early morning light casts incredible shadows while wildlife of all kinds wakes up. The playability and design of this Tom Weiskopf course deserves every accolade it has received including “Top 10 Michigan Public Courses” (Golf Magazine) and “Top 1,000 Golf Courses in the World” (Rolex Timepieces).

Enjoy twilight golf at Shanty Creek Resorts

Photo Courtesy of Shanty Creek Resorts

Afternoon and twilight rates

Schuss Mountain Golf Club is an often-overlooked northern Michigan gem that plays like two distinct nine-hole courses: the front nine weaves through pine dotted forests while the back nine ascends and descends over the rolling hills of Antrim County. And with twilight rates beginning at 1 p.m., it’s worth putting on your short-list of courses to play.

All four of Shanty Creek Resort’s courses offer twilight rates with cart:

  • $20 Summit GC after 1pm;
  • $30 Schuss Mtn GC after 1pm;
  • $40 The Legend GC after 3pm;
  • $40 Cedar River GC after 3pm;

Sunset

The Legend by Arnold Palmer has incredible sunset views over Lake Bellaire, and with twilight rates at $40 after 3pm, it’s a steal too. If your round ends before the sun goes down, directly across the parking lot from the Pro Shop is The Lakeview Restaurant and Lounge with its wall of windows with a panoramic westward view of Lake Bellaire and the setting sun.

4. Mid-Michigan

Mt. Pleasant’s Michigan Central Swing, courses and 12 retreats and offers golfers and travelers a reservation service that makes booking your trip easy.

Morning

Pine River Country Club is a private course in Mid-Michigan, where the grounds are mature and every hole offers a different challenge.  Fair for all levels of golfers, the course is cut out of a variety of terrain including trees, hills and the Pine River.  The length of the course is 6615 yards.  It will challenge you at every turn.  You will never tire of playing Pine River.

Limited play makes for a very accessible course.  Tee times are the exception rather than the rule and league play never dominates the course.

Afternoon and twilight rates

Head to Bucks Run Golf Club, where a Jerry Matthews’ designed course hosts 18 challenging, yet playable holes, artfully sculpted fairways and tee boxes, soft sand bunkers, and more. The course also features river frontage, picturesque lakes, and natural wetlands coming into play on numerous holes.

Mt. Pleasant's Bucks Run is a challenging course in the heart of Michigan's Lower Peninsula

Bucks Run, Photo Courtesy of the Mt. Pleasant Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

Every day after 3:00 p.m., Bucks Run offers a twilight rate of $23 off (Monday – Thursday) or $33 off (Friday – Sunday).

Want a later tee time?  After 4:30 p.m. the rate drops $20 from the 3:00 p.m. rate.

Sunset

If you are planning to take advantage of the twilight rates at Bucks Run, you’ll have ample time to play great championship golf before the sun sets around 10 p.m.   After, take in the views and grab a bite to eat on the outdoor patio

{Picture:  18th hole at Bucks Run}

5. Calhoun County

Home to Battle Creek, Marshall and Albion, it’s easy to spend a few days exploring some of the area’s 11 golf courses.

Morning

Start off at Riverside Golf Club in Battle Creek, where you will see the sunrise over the Battle Creek skyline.  Known for its excellent greens and great location, Riverside is an 18-hole, par 72 course designed by W. Bruce Matthews and Jerry Matthews.

Afternoon

Gull Lake View courses in August offers five gorgeous and challenging courses: Gull Lake View East, Gull Lake View West, Bedford Valley, Stonehedge South, and Stonehedge North.  At Gull Lake View you can play a round in the morning and then play a different course in the evening at a discounted price.

Gull Lake's greens are perfect for any skill level

Gull Lake, Photo Courtesy of the Calhoun County Visitors Bureau

Sunset

End your day at the Medalist Golf Club in Marshall, a championship golf course that has hosted multiple statewide championships and U.S. Amateur qualifiers, where the landscape and scenery is reminiscent of Northern Michigan and you’ll enjoy the sights and sounds of a peaceful summer evening.

What is your favorite Pure Michigan golf course? Share with us by commenting below!

Summer Solstice in Michigan, A Golfing Nirvana for Players

Now that the summer golf season has kicked into full-swing, golfers are getting out all over the state to take advantage of this great game. With more than 650 public courses to explore, it’s easy to see why Michigan is one of the premier golf destinations in the nation. As the summer solstice approaches, read more on why you should hit the links on the longest day of the year.

One of the highlights to golfing in Michigan are the long summer days allowing golfers to play into the evening hours. Nothing exemplifies this better then on June 20, the Summer Solstice, ( or the longest day of the year) as it will stay light enough for golf until nearly 10 p.m. Imagine teeing off at 6 p.m. and still getting 18-holes in. Even better, imagine teeing off at 7 a.m. and golfing all day and into the evening playing possibly 54 holes or more!

There are beautiful views to be seen at the Otsego Club in Gaylord

Beautiful views at the Otsego Club in Gaylord

Now, imagine taking it even one-step further and golfing one of our great resorts in Northern Michigan where golfers can  play three or four courses in one day and only leave the golf cart to hit shots. If you’re interested in a day on the greens unlike any other, America’s Summer Golf Capital has a few resorts to experience during those great long days of summer. Treetops, located in Gaylord, and the anchor to the Gaylord Golf Mecca, features 63-holes on its Treetops North site. Golfers can tee it up early on the Tom Fazio Premier, Michigan’s only Tom Fazio course, followed by the Rick Smith Signature, The Tradition, and cap it off with America’s No. 1 Par 3 Course, Threetops. Whatever order you do it in, it promises to be an amazing one-day golf experience.

The Frazio Premier Course at Treetops Resort is a local favorite

The Frazio Premier Course is recognized as a top course across the state

A little further north at Boyne Highlands up in Harbor Springs, part of the massive Boyne golf resorts, golfers can get in the cart early and play the Moor, The Donald Ross Memorial, featuring a wonderful rendition of great Donald Ross holes from around the country, and then cap it off with the Hills course, which features one of the best views from the 13th tee in all of Michigan. In Traverse City, The Grand Traverse Resort offers a great 54-hole combination lead by the Jack Nicklaus designed “Bear”, which has always been one of Jack’s tougher, but also most popular golf courses. Complimenting Jack’s course is the more player friendly Gary Player-designed Wolverine course, and the challenging Spruce Run course. If 36-holes are enough, there are several top facilities around the state where you can play 36 and never get out of the cart.

Greens at Grand Traverse Resort

Beautiful greens found at the Bear course at Grand Traverse Resort

In Northern Michigan top spots include Shanty Creek Resorts offering the Legend and Summit courses, as well as Crystal Mountain Resort with Mountain Ridge and Betsie Valley. At Manistee National, you can play Cutters Ridge and Canthooke Valley. Of course, golfers can head over to the sunrise cost play the Gailes and Serendella courses at Lakewood Shores Resort. In Gaylord, golfers should check out the Otsego Club with the Tribute and Classic courses. Don’t leave out the Upper Peninsula where golfers can challenge themselves with Greywalls and Marquette Country Club.

Greywalls Golf Course in Michigan's Upper Peninsula

The Greywalls is one of the Upper Peninsula’s finest courses

In the southern part of the state, there are destinations offering the 36-hole experience and more. Gull Lake View Resort offers options with its East and West courses or Stonehedge North and South. Golfers can experience two Donald Ross courses at Warren Valley in Dearborn, and check out Lakeview Hills in Lexington. Where ever you might play on the Summer Solstice, make it a full day of Pure Michigan golf! Where is your favorite course in Michigan? Share with us by commenting below!