Maximize Fall Playing Time With These Michigan Golf Trails

Today, guest blogger Janina Parrott Jacobs tells us how to minimize travel and maximize time on the course by playing through a Michigan golf trail this fall. 

Treetops_12SMT046There’s strength in numbers. Golfers may not normally fly across the country to play just one great course but they’ll consider doing so to play an assortment of superb ones. The folks in Myrtle Beach figured this out years ago when they realized that by banding together, they could create one-stop shopping to promote a stellar array of courses, attractions, and restaurants to golfers who would visit from around the country.

In Alabama, the creation of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail – which runs the entire length of the state from north to south via 11 Trail sites complete with 26 magnificent and affordable courses – was originally fashioned to strengthen the state’s financial health by maximizing investments from retirement funds. Visionary Dr. David Bronner, former CEO of the Retirement Systems of Alabama and the brainchild behind this idea, borrowed his philosophy from the movie Field of Dreams: ‘if you build it they will come’. He did…and they did.

Yet no state or trail or destination anywhere can match the sheer numbers of courses available for public or resort golf in Michigan. Different regions of the state have connected with each other to attract a wider range of golfers – and not simply from their local area. Here, a number of trail offerings are available to maximize your golf and minimize your drive time so you can enjoy the shorter days of late summer and early autumn.

Photo courtesy of Gaylord Area CVB

Photo courtesy of Gaylord Area CVB

Most people know of the ‘Gold Coast’ resort courses on the west side of the state: Boyne, Grand Traverse, Shanty Creek, Arcadia Bluffs to name a few. North centrally, there’s the Gaylord Golf Mecca, headlined by Treetops Resort – where you can sample ‘The Masterpiece’ an original RTJ Sr. design.  Experience the same inspiration Jones had when looking at the formidable elevation drop to the 6th green when all he saw were treetops…and thus the resort’s name was born.

Further east along US-23 and adjacent to Lake Huron, the Sunrise Side is lesser known but offers a wonderful collection of splendid courses that are surprisingly affordable. Red Hawk, near Tawas, an Arthur Hills design (think ‘Bay Harbor’) is a perfect introduction to the quality of golf you’ll find in the area. Up the road is Lakewood Shores Resort, with the nationally top-ranked links-style Gailes as well as the enjoyable Serradella, Blackshire, and par-3 ‘Wee Links’ courses which sit adjacent to Lake Huron near Oscoda. Alpena Golf Club, River’s Edge (formerly Alpena CC), and Black Lake are must-plays as are Elk Ridge, owned by Honeybaked Ham – you MUST try the ham sandwich at the turn – and Thunder Bay Resort, which offers golf with the added attraction of elk viewing tours via horse drawn wagons in summer and sleighs in the winter…both culminating with a multi-course gourmet dinner cooked on a century-old stove.

Just north and west of Detroit, the Michigan Grand Golf Trail encompasses five upscale courses that are in close proximity: Whispering Pines and Timber Trace in Pinckney, Mystic Creek in Milford, Brentwood in White Lake, and Boulder Pointe in Oxford.

Municipal courses are also getting in on the combine-and-prosper act. The Michigan Municipal Golf Trail, part of the Michigan Recreation and Park Association consists of several public, city, county, and Huron-Clinton Metropark courses. At Dearborn Hills, $20 will get you 18 holes of golf, cart, and a hot dog, chips and pop Monday through Friday from 11am-1pm.

As Fall golf approaches – and this year it seems to be coming early, weather-wise – look for even better deals everywhere in Michigan. At all Boyne courses, fees are based on airlines-style pricing: it all depends when and where you want to play. Being flexible will pay off. Check out all 11 courses spanning 3 resorts at Boyne.

Janina-Jacobs-headshot12-186x250Janina 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, 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.

 

Discover the Perfect Foursome with Golf in the Upper Peninsula

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 JacobsJanina 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.