Enter Michigan, Turn Right

Thanks to Greg Johnson for this guest blog post on golfing the sunrise side of the state.

Thunder Bay Resort is 21 miles west of Alpena, 54 miles east of Gaylord and in a little village called Hillman. One might think there can’t be much to do there, and they couldn’t be more wrong.

Golf, of course, tops my lists in all places, and it was right outside the fairway cabins we used on a family visit.  It was fun, affordable, isolated, and relaxing – everybody can play this track.

It also seemed like the perfect spot to venture from in search of other golf, unless of course you wanted to see some elk, make a quilt, attend a wine tasting or even do a Murder Mystery weekend (sort of theatrically like playing the game Clue without the board).

It has seemed to me for many years that Michigan golf (in the national order of things) gets a little bit ignored.  And in Michigan, the sunrise side of the state takes the brunt of it.  Go north, golfers are told, to the rich resort areas of Traverse City and Gaylord, and catch the beauty of golf and a sunset on the Lake Michigan side.   And I agree. Those things are great, worth the time, wonderful.  But don’t be afraid to turn right and get up early for the sunrise.  The sunrise side has similar stuff going on though, and in all price ranges. Also, it is in perhaps even more natural and less crowded settings.

Among a couple of my favorite golf spots is Red Hawk Golf Club in East Tawas.   The award-winning course, designed by Art Hills, is an escape to the hills for great golf. It’s scenic and if you take it on from the right tees for your game, you will love it.   Oh, and the restaurant on site is a great 19th hole as well.

The other place that you have to see to believe is Lakewood Shores Golf Resort in Oscoda, which is like visiting one place and getting three remarkably different golf experiences.   The Gailes is a replica of the links courses in Europe, and you can be out on the golf course and truly feel you are visiting another place. It’s one of Michigan’s most unique golf experiences.   Also on hand is The Blackshire course, which is more of a classic design that tests golfers at all levels. Beauty and challenge are combined, so be sure to bring your "A" game.   Of course, you don’t have to leave if you just want something nice and fun, or a place to play with everybody in the family. Lakewood Shores offers up the Seradella course, which is a golf course in a garden.

There’s more on that side of the state, of course. It just takes some seeking and the willingness to have fun.

Enter Michigan, turn right.

Greg Johnson has been writing about Michigan golf since 1982 primarily as the golf writer for The Grand Rapids Press and Booth Newspapers. He is a native of Three Rivers, grew up in St. Joseph, a graduate of Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor and Michigan State University in East Lansing. An award-winning writer, he has lived in Hudsonville for the last 20 years and worked in Grand Rapids for the last 27 years.