Schedule Your Tee Time at These 5 Ann Arbor Courses

Forbes recently identified Ann Arbor as a destination with “great golf and great food.” Such high praise has golf enthusiasts looking at the area with renewed interest for their own game. As the Ann Arbor area prepares to host the Volvik LPGA Championship from May 23-29, VisitAnnArbor.org shares information about some of the local greens.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

One of the more scenic courses in the Ann Arbor area is Eagle Crest Golf Club, designed by golf architect Karl Litten. Nestled along Ford Lake, the stunning waterfront par 72 course is a delight to experience and the 16th hole has been named one of the toughest in Michigan. With a four-star rating from Golf Digest, golfers vying for one of two qualifying positions will tee off at Eagle Crest for the 2016 LPGA Volvik Local Qualifier. Nearby dining recommendations: Check out the great dining in downtown Ypsilanti including Red Rock Downtown Barbecue, Sidetrack, and Haab’s.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

Another nationally ranked course is The University of Michigan Golf Course. Designed by world renowned golf architect Alister MacKenzie, it is recognized as one of the most fun courses in America. Built in 1931, this course just recently opened to public play and attracts golfers from across the globe to experience this classic course widely considered one of the best of all college layouts (not to mention the amazing view of the Big House!). Nearby dining recommendations: Stick with the university theme and dine downtown at The Pretzel Bell on Main Street or Pizza House on Church Street.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

 

Stonebridge Golf Club is a great destination for golfers looking for a more affordable championship course and driving range. Designed in 1991 by Arthur Hills, a renowned golf course architect and University of Michigan alum, the meticulous course is surrounded by natural beauty. Stonebridge also offers a practice putting green, driving range with bent grass tees, and a large chipping bunker. Nearby dining recommendations: Head into Saline for great food and craft beer at Salt Springs Brewery or the fresh catch at Mac’s Acadian Seafood Shack.

Leslie Park, Photo Courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

If you’re looking for a more casual golf outing, there are a number of options that will suit your needs including Huron Hills and Leslie Park Golf Courses. These two municipal courses are all located very close to downtown Ann Arbor, perfect for a weekend of golf and dining! Nearby dining recommendations: Zingerman’s Deli is always a hole-in-one. For a lighter dining option, consider tapas and sangria to share at Aventura.

To start planning your trip, go to VisitAnnArbor.org for a full listing of Ann Arbor area golf courses and more information about nearby attractions, restaurants, and events.

4 Southwest Michigan Golf Courses to Explore this Summer

Warm weather has finally arrived in Michigan, and with it, another inviting season of golf. If you’re looking to knock the dust off your favorite clubs, or are just looking to hit the links for the first time, here are four Southwest Michigan courses to try this summer:

1. Island Hills Golf Club – Centreville, MI

Island Hills is a gorgeous 18-hole course located on one of the largest lakes in Michigan, Lake Templene. Each hole is very different with some being in hardwood forests and others being in meadow prairies with a lake view. Want to “Play and Stay?” Island Hills has beautiful onsite villas for you to rest your head after playing the links.

Photo Courtesy of the Calhoun County Visitors Bureau

2. Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort – Augusta, MI

Gull Lake View is made up of 5 courses: Gull Lake View East, Gull Lake View West, Bedford Valley, Stonehedge South, and Stonehedge North. All are 18-hole championship golf courses and are ranked 4.5 stars or higher by Golf Digest. Each course has its unique set of challenges like hills, bunkers, water holes (East has 10), huge greens and forested holes. At Gull Lake View you can also “Play and Stay” in their onsite villas.

Photo Courtesy of the Calhoun County Visitors Bureau

 3. Binder Park Golf Club – Battle Creek, MI

Binder Park Golf Club is made up of 27-holes with 3 distinctive 9-hole tracks. The course is right next to Binder Park Zoo and you can even see parts of the zoo while you golf on certain holes. It is a great, user-friendly course for beginners and a challenging one for experience golfers.  Close to downtown Battle Creek and FireKeeper’s Casino, there is a lot to do when you are done golfing.

Photo Courtesy of the Calhoun County Visitors Bureau

4. The Medalist Golf Club – Marshall, MI

Golfing at the Medalist is like playing on a course in Northern Michigan. This premier championship golf course has hosted multiple statewide championships and U.S. Amateur qualifiers. It is close to FireKeepers Casino and Hotel so you can golf during the day and get your Vegas on at night.

Photo Courtesy of the Calhoun County Visitors Bureau

Want to try these courses but do not know the next step? The program, Michigan Southern Swing, will book your tee times for you along with your lodging. Call 1-877-MI-SWING or go to www.misouthernswing.com to get your FREE quote.  

BeccaF

Becca Freybler is the Digital Media Marketing Manager for the Calhoun County Visitors Bureau, handling all of their digital platforms.  She has worked for the CVB since 2010. Becca is a Michigan State University graduate and a lifelong Battle Creek resident. Outside of work she enjoys sports, cooking, being outdoors, and owns a Collie named Simba. 

Michigan Golf Courses Put a New Spin on the Sport with FootGolf

FootGolf, a hybrid of golf and soccer, has been popping up at Michigan golf courses this summer. Today, guest blogger Janina Jacobs tells us how these Michigan courses are putting a new spin on the sport. 

Love it or hate the idea, FootGolf has arrived. What is this phenomenon that’s bringing new life to area golf courses and why is it here?

Photo courtesy of Shanty Creek Resort

Photo courtesy of Shanty Creek Resort

First, the why: There is no debate that overall, golfer numbers have declined in recent years, even in this golf rich state. Assuming the downturn comes from core golfers playing less and newer golfers slowly trickling in, new markets are needed. The Pure Michigan campaign is beginning to bring people in from all over the U.S., but it does take time for folks to pack their clubs and head over. For us long-time golfers – those growing up in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s – soccer was not what we did; a little kickball maybe, but not the local, regional, and national traveling leagues and organizations that abound today. Almost every kid born after 1980 was introduced to soccer primarily in school, along with parents who drove them to every game and practice.  And so, enter FootGolf. Sort of a hybrid between soccer and golf, some facilities are embracing the concept and allowing footgolfers access to tee times along with regular golfers. Other than the initial shock of watching four players, likely dressed in Hogan caps, plus-fours, and argyle socks kicking soccer balls up the fairway ahead, regular golfers will experience no interference from the relatively new sport, which has actually been around since the 1980’s but is fresh to Michigan. In fact, golfers would do well to keep up considering FootGolf holes are shorter and flatter, the only club selection necessary is which foot to use, no time is spent looking for lost balls, and can take half the time to play.

Here’s how it works: Ideally, holes are mapped out along a portion of the normal course routing but using more level ground. Tees are placed in a closely mown area on the fairway, usually away from regular tee boxes. Footgolfers use their own #5 Soccer ball and the kicking commences until reaching the green which is actually a closely mown fairway, about 30-feet in diameter and often near a regulation green. So you can erase any idea of greens becoming mutilated from footgolfers stomping and kicking all over the beautiful bent grass greens so beloved to Michigan golfers…..or worry about what happens if you should accidently hit your golf ball into the 21-inch cup. If you do, take it out please! You will find it at the bottom of the ‘normal’ size cup where the flagstick is nestled within the larger hole.

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 9.25.55 AMIt is not as easy as you think. I was introduced to FootGolf at Shanty Creek Resort in Bellaire, which has transformed the lesser-used but magnificently conditioned Summit Golf Course into a multi-use facility. Director of Golf Brian Kautz came from a very traditional club in Florida, and no one is more surprised than he at the transformation taking shape: You can 1) play regular golf using standard 4 and ½ inch cups; 2) play regular golf using the 8-inch cups cut into every green; 3) play the par-3 tees on each hole using either cup; or 4) play FootGolf using the alternate greens and oversized cups. I hadn’t kicked a soccer ball in years, so after a few holes of 6 or more kicks, where even the slightest elevation and rough will make you aware of leg and hip muscles you didn’t know existed, you’ll gain new respect for the sport. The kids will get a kick out of it…pardon the pun…because for them, it’s easy and familiar. Even better, they can walk; and in the process, they may also observe regular golf and get the urge to try that as well. Watch for the possible re-introduction of the pull cart, which in the last decade or two virtually disappeared from golf clubs. How better to solve the problem of trying to walk and play FootGolf while transporting adult beverages?

In case you think that rules are relaxed even for this seemingly tame sport, you should know that there is an international governing body, the Federation for International FootGolf (FIFG), and its Rule Book is 47 pages long. Rules govern ball size, weight, hole dimensions, and many other situations that regular golf rules cover. And there are leagues and tournaments…plenty of them.

Other courses around the state are offering FootGolf, including Elmbrook Golf Course, which celebrates their 50th anniversary this year. Owner Carolyn Olson felt it was ideal considering their location: “at first we thought it was for kids or birthday parties and such. But it’s a perfect fit for Traverse City, with all the elite soccer clubs and coaches in the area.” Ironically, the median age for footgolfers is about 20-35 years old.

Photo courtesy of Fox Hills Golf Course

Photo courtesy of Fox Hills Golf Course

In the metro Detroit area, Fox Hills Golf and Banquet Center in Salem Township opened their FootGolf course on the renowned Strategic Fox, a popular 18-hole par-3 layout, in May. They are already seeing interest. In Grand Blanc, even the stately Warwick Hills, a private club that hosted multiple PGA Tour Buick Opens, is contemplating the idea. Treetops Resort in Gaylord offers every FootGolf customer on the Rick Smith Tradition course a deal sweetener: a voucher for a free golf clinic. Prices average about $10-$20 per round at most facilities.

For the naysayers, one cannot argue that Footgolfers bring a different energy to the course: high fives, acrobatics – including doing cartwheels down the fairway – and more yelling. All of these formerly frowned-upon outbursts certainly change the dynamics of golf courses where everyone is often afraid to cheer, shout, or even talk. Sometimes people cannot use the words ‘fun’ and ‘golf’ in the same sentence. With FootGolf, it is hard not to.

Janina-Jacobs-headshot1Janina 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.