Growing the Game of Golf in Michigan with Family Friendly Programs

June is Michigan Golf Month, and it’s the perfect time of year to get out on the course! If you’re new to the sport or would like to get your family involved, guest blogger Janina Jacobs shares some ways to take advantage of junior and family friendly golf opportunities in Pure Michigan.

Photo courtesy of Shepherd's Hollow

Photo courtesy of Shepherd’s Hollow

School’s out and Michigan’s 850-plus courses offer great places to spend endless summer days. Family and junior programs abound everywhere and are vital to growth of the game. Making golf more fun is the goal for one spectacular opportunity you may wish to consider for your kids this year: the National Drive, Chip & Putt competition, sponsored by the USGA, the Masters Tournament, and the PGA of America. It could lead to an appearance at Augusta National Golf Club next April. Last year’s inaugural event had limited qualifying opportunities but the number of qualifying sites for the 2014 event has been greatly expanded and includes many Michigan golf courses.

Girls and boys ages 7-15 are encouraged to enter the contest, which awards points for accuracy in driving, chipping, and putting – certainly the key to lower scores for any golfer. Local qualifiers in each of four divisions separated by gender and age groups of 7-9, 10-11, 12-13, and 14-15 will advance to Sub-Regional qualifiers at Fox Hills Golf Club and Banquet Center in Plymouth on August 15 and Binder Park Golf Course in Battle Creek on August 23. Regional finals will be held September 6 at Prestwick Village Golf Club, in Highland. For official rules and to register, visit www.drivechipandputt.com. Entries close at 5pm, five (5) days prior to the local Michigan competitions, which are listed below:

Drive, Chip & Putt Local Qualifying Sites:

June 17 – Hawk Hollow Golf Club, Bath
June 22 – Marquette Golf Club, Marquette
June 25 – Railside Golf Club, Byron Center
June 28 – Whispering Willows Golf Club, Livonia
July 1 – Pheasant Run Golf Club, Canton
July 8 – Forest Akers East, East Lansing
July 12 – Ferris State University/Katke, Big Rapids
July 15 – Treetops Resort, Gaylord
July 19 – The Orchards, Washington
July 22 – Binder Park Golf Course, Battle Creek
July 26 – Apple Mountain, Freeland

Photo courtesy of Gaylord CVB

Photo courtesy of Gaylord CVB

There is no entry fee for the National Drive, Chip & Putt Contest, however space is limited and entries are accepted on a first-come first served basis. Each local qualifier has its own starting time, which is listed on the individual site. Of note, those who make it to Augusta and become Championship finalists will receive three Monday Practice Round Tickets to the 2015 Masters.

SPECIAL OFFER FOR HIGH SCHOOL GOLFERS: Free Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) memberships are available to all high school golf team members and their coach. To receive the free GAM membership, your golf coach must call 248.478.9242, Ext. 19. Perks include an online Michigan E-newsletter, weekly Global Golf Post digital edition, subscription to Golf Digest or Golf World, the Michigan Links Magazine and 2014 Annual Course Directory (which lists every golf course in the state, pertinent information, and also directions on how to get there) exclusive tee time booking, opportunities to play in the GAM Scramble, tournaments, events, and $60 Golf Days, sponsor offers, Swing & Save discount program, and handicap services. Visit www.gam.org for more information or for regular membership, which at $39, offers superb value.

Michigan Golf Schools and Lessons

A number of courses across the state offer private lessons and classes for those just getting their swing in shape. To find golf schools and lessons in your area, check out michigan.org.

Janina-Jacobs-headshot111-150x150Janina Parrott Jacobs is a lifelong Michigan resident but her passion as a multi-media golf and business specialist and international golf and travel writer takes her all over the world.  

Michigan Golf Courses Prepare for the Summer Season Ahead (Plus a Giveaway!)

With more than 800 public golf courses surrounded by lush natural beauty and the Great Lakes, Michigan is a perfect summer golf destination! To get ready for summer golf season, we spoke with Janina Parrott Jacobs to learn more about how Michigan courses are preparing for the busy season ahead after our record-breaking winter. Plus, learn how you can win tickets to the Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores!

Photo courtesy of Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

Photo courtesy of Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

In golf, records are made to be broken. Usually, we’re not referring to the weather. Mother Nature busted the all-time snowfall record on Tax Day 2014, when a couple inches dusted the Detroit metro area, bringing totals above 94 inches. For northern Michigan folks, that’s child’s play, and exactly why you may be able to visit northern courses earlier than some southern state locales. Here’s why: the thaw-freeze cycle. When the ground freezes and snow falls, the snow provides a cushion for the grass. If it’s cold all winter, the ground is protected. However, if there’s a thaw – even a brief one – followed by an ice storm that coats the ground with snow on top of that, the grass is deprived of oxygen and ‘suffocates’ under the ice layer. Grasses can only handle this condition for 60-90 days depending on species, until they start to die, resulting in disease and bare spots.

According to Grand Traverse Resort and Spa’s Public Relations Director J. Michael DeAgostino, “we cannot put golf maintenance equipment on the courses until the frost is out of the ground and the turf is firm enough to support the equipment without tires sinking into it. So far, the greens on our courses look great but there is some winter damage to fairways and tees. GTR has already staged staggered openings of all three courses, Spruce Run, Wolverine, and The Bear.

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Photo courtesy of Tullymore Golf Resort

Farther downstate, Tullymore Resort, near Mt. Pleasant, normally has lake-effect snowfall providing a happy medium between heavier mixes up north and lighter precipitation in the Detroit metro area. According to Alex Greenacre, Director of Golf Course Maintenance, the resort’s two courses, Tullymore and St. Ives, came through basically unscathed, with snowfall in the ‘high normal range.’ “This year’s winter was different; we never received a large rainfall or warm days to melt any snow, which resulted in heavy amounts of drift areas that were more prone to disease – but these are actually in the rough and only superficial. Our greens, tees, and fairways were 99.9% unaffected.”

However, it’s not as if courses don’t prepare for winter’s bite. Typically, they’re treated chemically in the fall and this prevents winter damage and snow mold. The Grande Golf Club in Jackson, which opened in early April, annually spends about $4,000 to apply the anti-mold chemical, according to General Manager Brian Roberts. “It’s not fun to spend that much money going into the off-season….but you’ll really pick out the courses that didn’t use it.”

Golf-in-MichiganSo what does this mean for golfers itching to get out and play? Before planning golf trips, call first, even into May and June. And consider hoofing it: with wet conditions, courses will let walkers out sooner than carts. High school golf teams and league players are mostly affected because they begin play earlier in the season. For organizations conducting tournaments whose dates have been in place for months, there could be a concern. Michigan PGA Executive Director Kevin Helm said, “there are some facilities in the Detroit area that have been hit pretty hard. We didn’t start our schedule until the last Monday in April, so it is hard to say how our events may be affected; but at least we have not heard from any of our host sites saying we have a major problem.”

One important event happening regardless of weather is the Michigan Women’s Golf Association’s Legacy and Lifetime Achievement Awards golf celebration honoring three legendary Michigan women who have impacted golf for decades on Monday, May 19, 2014 at Travis Pointe CC in Ann Arbor.

Also, the Bogey Golf Tour, the ‘premier tour for the average golfer’ which hosts events in southeast Michigan and across the border in southwest Ontario, is already off and running with five events scheduled in May.

Finally, the Senior PGA Championship will be teeing off at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor May 22 – 25, 2014. Read below to find out how you can win free tickets to the event on the Pure Michigan Facebook page!

FACEBOOK GIVEAWAY: Do you want to score free tickets to the Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor? Head to our Pure Michigan Facebook page and simply tell us in the comments section why you want to attend the Senior PGA Championship. We’ll randomly select five lucky winners to win two tickets to the event. To be eligible, submit your comments by this Friday, May 16th at 12:oo p.m. EST. We’ll  follow up with our winners via Facebook on Friday afternoon.

Janina-Jacobs-headshot-224x300Janina Parrott Jacobs is a lifelong Michigan resident but her passion as a multi-media golf and business specialist and international golf and travel writer takes her all over the world.  Her website, www.janinajacobs.com, features many other entrepreneurial adventures as a motivational speaker, professional musician and performer, owning Capers Steakhouse in Detroit, and volunteer efforts with the U.S. Navy where she advocates for and mentors young people concerning health, nutrition, and fitness issues. Contact Janina at Jjacobs2456@gmail.com. 

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.