Explore Michigan’s Golf Courses This Summer

Michigan offers a wide variety of golf courses with something for everyone. Offering over 800 public golf courses (plus the natural beauty of the state and the Great Lakes), Michigan is the perfect summer golf destination. With golf being one of the activities featured in the Pure Michigan summer video series, we spoke with Janina Parrott Jacobs to learn more about the sport.

See her in the video below and read more from Janina in the questions that follow. For more information on golfing in Michigan or to plan your summer vacation, visit michigan.org.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

A: I’m a lucky girl whose parents exposed me to everything, including golf. My amateur competitive ‘career’ began at age 9 and has taken me all over the world. In addition to my work as an international golf/travel/health writer, I own Capers Steakhouse in Detroit, am a professional musician, performer, and motivational speaker.  I hosted ‘Michigan Golf Weekly’ TV show on CBS-Detroit, ‘GolfWrap’ on WJR, wrote golf columns for the Detroit Free Press, and have been a course ratings panelist for Golf Digest for 30 years. I’m an advocate for many organizations involved with mentoring youth, women’s golf, the U.S. Navy and other military, Sea Cadets, veterans’ affairs, and health and nutrition.

Q: What makes Michigan an ideal destination for golfing?

A: Michigan’s climate is perfect for growing golf courses so conditioning on almost anywhere is superb…..and great conditions are one of the main ‘must-haves’ when selecting places to play. With over 850 public and resort courses available, there is no state with a greater inventory to choose from, no matter what price point you seek. Due to Michigan’s varied topography, you can play links-style clubs, courses with major elevation changes, and layouts with lakeside vistas, even some with mountainous granite outcroppings. The golf season usually runs from March until November, but hardy souls play year-round – which some courses allow.

Q: What are some of your favorite courses around the state?

A: That’s a loaded question….there are so many! Here’s a partial list: Elk Ridge in Atlanta, Greywalls in Marquette, Forest Dunes in Roscommon, True North in Harbor Springs, The Bear near Traverse City, Tullymore and Bucks Run in Mt. Pleasant, Pilgrim’s Run in Pierson, Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, The Grande Golf Club in Jackson, Island Hills in Centerville, Shepherd’s Hollow in Clarkston, Pine Trace in Rochester Hills, and any course at Treetops (Gaylord), Shanty Creek (Mancelona), Gull Lake View (Augusta), Fox Hills (Plymouth), Lakewood Shores (Oscoda) or Boyne.

Q: Are there courses in Michigan that appeal to people of different ages and skill levels?

A: The Huron-Clinton Metroparks and most municipal and county courses are very family friendly, affordable, and welcoming for any age and skill level.

Q: When would you say is the best time of year to golf?

A: Fall golf in Michigan is unsurpassed. After Labor Day, the courses are in the best condition, the crowds have lessened and if you wait until October, the leaves are exploding with color.  That, coupled with emerald green fairways, bright blue skies and bluer water on many courses along Great Lakes shores, makes for an artist’s palette sure to delight the eyes.  I don’t know why play drops off so significantly at that time, though ‘back-to-school’ applies to parents as well as kids; still, golfers are missing the absolute best playing conditions and weather.

Q: The Masters is happening this month in Augusta, GA. Which golfers are you cheering for?

A: Defending champion Bubba Watson is a feel-good choice but probably won’t repeat.  I’d love if he did because he’s simply an all-around nice guy with that go-for-broke style of Arnold Palmer and the late Seve Ballesteros.  Rory McIlroy is due for a green jacket, but Tiger Woods has had an early taste of victory at Bay Hill so he’ll be hungering for another major after a ‘Major’ drought.  Brandt ‘Sneds’ Snedeker, as winner of both the Tour Championship and Fed Ex Cup, is primed for a stellar 2013. Acclaimed as the best putter on tour, Augusta’s greens may prove to separate him from the pack.  Nostalgic favorite Ernie Els, who has never won a Masters, and Phil Mickelson are popular with the patrons.

Q: Are there any tournaments coming up this year in Michigan?

A: Here’s where great golf can be seen around the state this year: the SYMETRA (LPGA preparatory Tour) 2013 Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass, June 28-30; Sweetgrass is both a Golf Digest and Golfweek top-rated course in the UP; the Michigan PGA Championship is at Katke-Cousins/R&S Sharf Courses at Oakland University August 19-21; the Michigan Amateur will be contested at Muskegon CC June 18-21; The Legends Tour (LPGA Senior Tour) ‘Wendy’s Charity Challenge’ on August 11-12 at CC of Jackson; the Women’s Amateur is at Walnut Hills CC in Lansing August 12-16; all are free to watch except at Sweetgrass, where affordable packages can be purchased at sweetgrassgolfclub.com.

Q: Where can people go to learn more about golf in Michigan?

A: Consider joining the Golf Association of Michigan at gam.org.  Besides conducting amateur tournaments and events for both adults and juniors, GAM provides handicapping services, Swing-n-Save discounts, a ‘clearinghouse’ listing for charity golf events and associations, golf days with affordable access to private clubs, and much more.

Which Michigan golf course is your favorite? Share with us below!

Janina 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.

The Golf Club at Harbor Shores Hosts Senior PGA Championship

The 73rd Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid makes its first appearance in Michigan in 2012 at The Golf Club at Harbor Shores, happening now through May 27th. Today, Ross Smith, Director of Golf at Harbor Shores, answers our questions on the tournament and gives an overview of what players can expect from the course throughout the season.

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

A: Fans can expect to see the greatest players in senior golf including Fred Couples, Hale Irwin, Jeff Sluman, Kenny Perry, Brad Faxon and more.

Q: What makes Harbor Shores such a unique golf course?

A: One reason Harbor Shores is so unique is due to the environmental cleanup involved. The first time I saw the property in fall 2008, the present driving range and first hole were only gravel and trash, and still had about 50,000 square-feet of old abandoned factories and foundries on top of it. When Jack Nicklaus’ team made their first visit, they had to rent a bull dozer to move the trash and debris just to see the ground. It is amazing to see the significant environmental efforts that have taken place to clean-up the area that is now Harbor Shores.

Q: What is a must-see on the course for golf enthusiasts?

A: In addition to the greatest players in senior golf coming to Harbor Shores, to see the course’s current condition is nothing short of amazing. Due to the hard work of Harbor Shores Course Superintendent Brad Fry and the entire KemperSports staff, the entire turf condition of the golf course is second to none. The players participating in the Championship will have no idea that the golf course has only been open for play since July 2010.

Q: How can beginners get involved with golf at the Golf Club at Harbor Shores?

A: In addition to offering lessons to all golfers, the learning academy at Harbor Shores is also home to The First Tee of Benton Harbor. The driving range plays west to east, and the academy sits on the south end of the range, which helps out for fall/winter instruction and practice time. We have state-of-the-art V1 video, as well as a Trackman Launch Monitor. From instruction to club fitting, our facility can meet the needs of players of all skill levels. Our new First Tee academy serves as a great resource for the community and helps juniors get involved and learn the game of golf. 

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

A: Fans can visit www.spga2012.com to learn more about the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid.

Ross Smith is the Director of Golf at Harbor Shores. For more information on Harbor Shores and the Senior PGA, please visit michigan.org.

A Perfect 18 in Pure Michigan

Golfers often think about playing their favorite 18 holes, but those 18 are not necessarily on a single course. James Mason recently played 14 courses in 12 days in Michigan, and designed an 18-hole course from his favorites on the trip.

Harbor Shores

Harbor Shores

After a lot of email exchanges with golf expert Tim Hygh, I was on my way to the Motor City to play 14 courses in 12 days! We could have included some fishing, for there is plenty to be had, or even a spa visit. But for me, a perfect trip includes golf, golf and more golf! I was very happy with that itinerary.

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