If you love cool autumn breezes, vibrant colors, and a great round of golf, there are a number of scenic courses in the Upper Peninsula for you to explore this fall. Today, Janina Parrott Jacobs walks us through some fall golf opportunities to take advantage of in the U.P. For more on golfing in Michigan, visit michigan.org.
Michigan golfers are well versed in the up-north golf treasures of Traverse City, the Gaylord Mecca, and the Sunrise Side but many don’t go far enough to experience the superb golf that lies beyond the mighty Mackinac Bridge. Fall is a great time to visit, certainly if you’re fond of cooler temps, blazing autumn colors, and offshore breezes reminiscent of golf in the British Isles.
With apologies to Michigan native and actor Jeff Daniels’ play ‘Escanaba in da Moonlight,’ ‘Escanaba in da daylight’ provides the gateway to spectacular golf and scenery via Island Resort and Casino’s version of the very affordable Stay-and-Play ‘Perfect Foursome’: three of GolfWeek Magazine’s ‘Best Courses You Can Play’ in Michigan: Greywalls (#2), Timberstone (#8), and Sweetgrass (#14)……and you.
Stay at Island Resort, owned by the Hannahville Tribe of the Potawatomi Indians, with its bustling casino and packed entertainment schedule. Walk from your room to first tackle Michigan-based course designer Paul Albanese’s Sweetgrass, a friendly and superbly conditioned links style layout, which has been a community-energizing stop on the Symetra Tour since 2011. Try to match the sub-par scores of future LPGA professionals, but healthy par-4’s coupled with feisty par-3’s – including the dramatic Biarritz green on #12 and the island green 15th- will hamper your quest. Learn about the legends and culture of the Potawatomi tribe by reading hole names and descriptions located on each tee sign. Snap a picture of the famous double eagles on ‘Eagle’, the 13th hole, all while taking in the fragrance from the namesake aromatic Sweetgrass, a healing herb spread throughout the course.
Drive north about 70 miles to Marquette for a wild ride at Marquette Golf Club’s Greywalls course – but you can walk – and should, simply to take in the spectacular surroundings and vistas. Architect Mike DeVries fashioned a deceptively playable roller coaster and picturesque layout from Lake Superior’s rugged bluffs. It looks hard but can be tamed, especially if you play it twice and learn the garden spots. On clear days, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is visible, over 30 miles away. Your final tee shot on 18 will float from incredibly clear skies toward majestic blues of the state’s largest and deepest lake….but don’t worry, you can’t hit it far enough to go in.
Finish your ‘foursome’ at nationally renowned Timberstone Golf Course at Pine Mountain, in Iron Mountain, where homegrown architect Jerry Matthews combines the best of northern Michigan elevations, wetlands, and hardwoods into a pastoral and pleasant course routing. All holes have names here too, like Sweetgrass, which can provide clues as to how to play them. Afterwards, stop for a burger, often cooked on an outdoor grill by the pro. A fire pit near the log cabin-style clubhouse provides a warm welcome after tackling two of the most dramatic finishing holes in the state: the 215-yard par-3 17th, ‘Sagola’ and the 600-yard par-5 ‘Double Black Diamond’ 18th, both straight downhill so don’t let the yardages scare you.
If your travel plans won’t mesh with a Fall excursion, why not plan for next year and visit when the Symetra Tour is in town for the 2014 Island Resort Championship, a 3-day 54-hole Stroke Play tournament during the week of June 23-29? This year, corporate hospitality and the Pro-Am sold out and over 4500 spectators watched the 144 women professionals in action. Or, consider being a volunteer caddy or marshal along with the 300 who took part during the 2013 event. Sweetgrass was highly regarded on the circuit, no surprise to Michigan golfers who know the quality of local courses. According to Hannahville Tribal Council Chair Ken Mesigaud, “The event puts a spotlight on the beauty and uniqueness of the course which many players regard as the best stop on the circuit.”
Will you be trying your hand at one (or more) of these Upper Peninsula golf courses this fall? 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.