Six Things to Know About Playing FootGolf in Traverse City

FootGolf, a hybrid of golf and soccer, has been sweeping the world of golf in recent years. This spring, two courses in the Traverse City area – The Summit at Shanty Creek Resorts and Elmbrook in Traverse City – are being adapted for FootGolf.  The 18-hole course at Elmbrook and the nine-hole course at The Summit are both expected to be up and running by mid-May.

Guest blogger Mike Norton of Traverse City Tourism sat down with Shanty Creek golf director Brian Kautz and Elmbrook manager Dennis Sternburgh to ask a few questions about the sport and what visitors can expect from the courses in Traverse City. Here are six things to know about playing Footgolf in Traverse City:

Photo courtesy of Shanty Creek

Photo courtesy of Shanty Creek Resorts

How did FootGolf get started?

The idea of blending golf and soccer has been around for decades, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that Dutch enthusiasts created official rules and courses for the sport. It is now a recognized tournament sport in over 20 countries, and the American FootGolf League recognizes 85 participating U.S. courses in 29 states. Two of the four courses in Michigan are in Traverse City.

How do you play FootGolf?

FootGolf is played with a regulation #5 soccer ball, and its basic rules are like those of golf: whoever finishes the course with the least number of “strokes” is the winner. The first shot at each hole has to be taken from the tee, and players must play past the usual array of bunkers, trees, water hazards and hills. (Soccer players aren’t necessarily at an advantage here, since they’re used to playing on a flat field without having to deal strategically with terrain.)

Are there other rules?

Footgolfers are expected to abide by the rules of the hosting course, including dress code and appropriate shoes. For tournament play, a distinctive uniform is often worn (collared shirt, flat Hogan-style cap, golf pants or shorts, knee-length argyle socks and soccer shoes – not cleats) but that’s not necessary for casual play. Except for the shoes.

What will it cost?

Elmbrook hasn’t decided on a price yet, but Shanty Creek will charge $10 per player, which includes the use of a regulation ball. There would be an additional  charge for golf cart rental, should players prefer to ride.

Isn’t this going to disrupt existing courses and create problems with regular golfers?

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 9.40.55 AMAdapting an existing golf course for FootGolf isn’t as difficult as it might seem. FootGolf fairways run parallel to existing golf layouts, and they’re about half the length – so 18 holes of FootGolf can be played in about the same time as nine holes of traditional golf. At Elmbrook, for instance, the FootGolf course is going to be laid out on the course’s front nine. The nine-hole course at Shanty Creek will take up even less room, said Kautz – if players want to do a fuill 18 holes they can simply go through twice.

Also, the big 21-inch holes are typically placed in the rough or near undesirable hazards like sand traps, so it’s rare for players of the two games to come into contact – or conflict – with each other. “They’ll have to get tee times and wait in line just like any other golfer,” says Sternburgh.

Is anyone considering forming a local FootGolf League?

Both golf courses are entertaining the idea, but are waiting to see how much interest there is before jumping in.

Do you plan to try out FootGolf in the Traverse City area?

27156_4580575632833_1130134017_n-Copy-150x150Mike Norton spent 25 years as newspaper writer and columnist before starting a second career as media relations manager at Traverse City Tourism. An avid cyclist, kayaker and snowshoer, he lives in the village of Old Mission.

Top Golfers Try Their Hand at Harbor Shores this Spring

The 75th Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid makes its second appearance in Michigan May 20 -25, 2014 at The Golf Club at Harbor Shores. Jeff Hintz, PGA Championship Director, answers our questions on the tournament and gives an overview of what attendees can expect from the course.

Tickets for the Senior PGA Championship are on sale now – including holiday packages for the golf enthusiast on your shopping list! 

Q: This year is the 75th Senior PGA Championship. Will there be any special events or celebrations to commemorate this?

A: The Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid has a long and rich history since it began in 1937. We are currently exploring opportunities to host a variety of community events to celebrate the 75th anniversary from a concert series to a 5K run/walk race. Details about these events will be posted on the Championship website as we get closer to the event.

We also unveiled a new logo for the 2014 Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid to commemorate the 75th anniversary and honor the history and tradition of the Championship.

Q: What can attendees expect to experience at the Senior PGA Championship this year?

A: Every fan experience is unique from Championship to Championship. In 2014, we’re committed to enhancing our customer service throughout the course and creating a great entertainment value for our fans. Daily grounds tickets range from $15 to $35 and all juniors, 17 years of age and younger, will be admitted into the Championship for free with an accompanying ticketed adult. We are looking into incorporating a new Kids Zone at the Championship this year which will include activities for juniors and families. And, we’ve introduced a new ticket category for the 75th Championship – the 19th Hole – which gives fans access to an upgraded viewing structure on the course. Single-day tickets to the 19th Hole tickets will be sold for Championship rounds (Thurs. – Sun.) for $50. Practice round tickets to the 19th Hole are $35.

Q: Who can attendees expect to see playing this year?

A: The Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, the most historic and prestigious senior major, features the strongest field in senior golf. Golf fans will have a chance to see the world’s greatest senior golfers and walk with history.

We expect a strong field in 2014 filled with past Champions and fan favorites including Tom Watson, Tom Lehman, Jay Haas, Fred Couples, Kenny Perry, Mark O’Meara, Bernhard Langer and 2012 Senior PGA Champion Roger Chapman.

Q: What makes Harbor Shores such a unique golf course? Why was Harbor Shores chosen to host this premier event?

A: Harbor Shores is a Jack Nicklaus Signature Design golf course, the only one on the shores of Lake Michigan. What makes this course so unique is the extensive environmental transformation that took place to develop the course. The Nicklaus team transformed abandoned land, dilapidated vacant factories, and a city dump into one of the top courses in the state of Michigan. The course and surrounding development serves as a catalyst for ongoing community transformation in Benton Harbor.

Thanks to our partnership with KitchenAid, Harbor Shores was selected as the site of the 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 Senior PGA Championships presented by KitchenAid.

Q: Are there any “must-play” holes for golf enthusiasts at Harbor Shores? What’s your favorite hole at Harbor Shores?

A: All 18 holes at Harbor Shores are must-play holes for golf enthusiasts! The course features three distinct styles of terrain including lakefront dunes along Lake Michigan, Northern Michigan hardwoods and native wetlands along the Paw Paw River. Holes 7, 8 and 9, overlook the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan and give golfers a stunning look at the beach. Hole 10 is one of my favorite holes. The 10thgreen is a three-tier green and the largest in Nicklaus’ portfolio of more than 300 golf course designs around the world.

Q: Outside of the course, what are some “must-sees” in the Benton Harbor area for visitors to check out while in town?

A: While you’re visiting Benton Harbor for the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, you must take some time to visit Jean Klock Park Beach along the shores of Lake Michigan. The center of Jean Klock Park is made up of holes 7, 8 and 9 at Harbor Shores on the lakefront dunes.

There are a number of great restaurants and shops within walking distance of the course in the Benton Harbor Arts District. Some of our favorite dining options in the Arts District include Larks Bar-B-Que, Charlie’s Piggin’ N’ Grinnin’, The Ideal Place and The Livery. The North Shore Inn is also a must for some of the best burgers in town. And, the St. Joseph Pier Lighthouse is a popular stop for visitors in nearby St. Joseph, Mich.

Q: Where can people go to learn more about the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid?

A: Fans can visit the Championship website to buy tickets and get more information about the 75th Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. We also encourage fans to visit our Facebook page and Twitter account.

Will you attend the Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores this spring?

Jeff Hintz is the Championship Director of the 73rd and 75th Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. As Championship Director, Hintz oversees all aspects of the Championships on behalf of The PGA of America. He also manages the day-to-day business relationship between The PGA and KitchenAid, the presenting sponsor of the Senior PGA Championship since 2011. 

Cool and Colorful: Golfing Manistee County in Autumn

Fall is a great time to golf in Michigan! Guest blogger Maralee Cook shares her experience golfing during the fall season at Manistee National Golf and Resort in Manistee, MI.

Autumn in Manistee County in northwestern Lower Michigan is all about cool and colorful. Lake Michigan tempers our weather well into October, and crisp, clear mornings give way to warm afternoons and evenings perfect for outdoor sports and viewing unforgettable sunsets.

ManisteeNational

A one-hour hop from Midway Airport in Chicago brings you to Manistee Blacker Airport for a cool, colorful, fall Fly, Stay and Play golf special.

If you’re a golfer, you know that there’s no better time to play and Manistee County has the perfect Fly, Stay and Play Golf Package. You’ll fly from Chicago’s Midway Airport to Manistee Blacker Airport for a quick one-hour hop across the Great Lake Michigan to stay and play unlimited golf at Manistee National Golf and Resort’s two spectacular 18-hole golf courses, Canthooke Valley and Cutter’s Ridge.

The package includes roundtrip airfare, luggage and clubs, shuttle service to and from Manistee Blacker Airport to Manistee National, and a $30 food voucher at Manistee National’s Osprey Grille.  And when you’re not golfing, you’ll want to unwind at the hotel lounge or the indoor/outdoor pool and whirlpool.

Manistee National Golf Course

Manistee National Golf and Resort includes at indoor/outdoor swimming pool and whirlpool.

Canthooke Valley, a traditional course, with stately oak trees crowned in umbers and siennas, offers gently rolling fairways planted in Kentucky bluegrass that set your ball up high for easy contact. Cutter’s Ridge, designed by Jerry Matthews, is set amid marshes and wetlands with bentgrass fairways and greens. In autumn the birches and maples on Cutter’s Ridge are aflame in brilliant reds, oranges and yellows.

Pure Michigan Golf

Manistee National Golf and Resort in Manistee, Michigan has two top-notch 18-hole golf courses.

If you’re looking for a little more nightlife while you’re here we’ll get you a shuttle to Manistee County’s  Little River Casino Resort with one of Michigan’s largest gaming floors, excellent restaurants and a wide variety of entertainment including concerts and comedy acts. Would you like to play Manistee County’s world class Arcadia Bluffs while you’re here? We can make that happen too. Greens fees are not included in the package price for non-Manistee National courses, but we’ll be happy to shuttle you to the Bluffs.

The package is only $399 per person for 3 nights midweek, or 2 nights weekend at $499 per person. And if you choose our weekend package, you’ll be winging your way to Chicago’s Midway on our 5 p.m. flight – plenty of time to be in your favorite chair at home for Sunday Night Football.

Check out Flymanistee.com or manisteenational.com  or visitmanisteecounty.com for more information or to make reservations.  And go to visitmanisteecounty.com for more information on visiting the City of Manistee on the shores of Lake Michigan and or our County’s other charming small towns.  You won’t want to miss golfing, shopping, dining, fishing, hiking or biking during our colorful fall.

Maralee Cook Maralee Cook is a freelance writer living in Manistee, Michigan.

Where is your favorite place for fall golf in Michigan?