Growing the Golf Game in Michigan

Growing the golf game is a hot topic around the country, and many courses and groups in Michigan are doing their part to introduce the sport in new ways. Today, Janina Parrott Jacobs gives us an inside look at what opportunities are available for getting involved in the golf community.

For more on golfing in Michigan, visit michigan.org or take a look at our video on golf from the Pure Michigan summer video series.

Family golf at Shanty Creek Resort

With over 850 public facilities ready and waiting to serve all golfers regardless of experience, Michigan is in a prime position to show new members of the golf community what the sport has to offer.

Despite gorgeous surroundings, golf can be a difficult sport. That’s why new programs at Shanty Creek Resort in Bellaire are attracting major attention – especially for beginners and juniors.  How much fun would it be to putt at 8-inch cups, almost double the size of the current 4 and ½ inch hole?  From shorter tees?  The great Jack Nicklaus himself is promoting this type of participation, through recommendations for 12-hole rounds, larger cups, and Tee-It-Forward initiatives. Shanty has created a new set of forward tees ranging from 95-125 yards at its Summit course, which is already attracting entire families.

One of the first resorts in America to adopt such a permanent program, Director of Golf and PGA Professional Brian Kautz noted, “We have four golf courses at our resort, so this was the perfect opportunity to convert one of them to implement this program.”  To encourage more children, women, and families to play there this season, children 17 and under can golf for free on the Summit and Schuss Mountain courses with a paying adult all week. Kids can also play free on the Arnold Palmer designed Legend and Tom Weiskopf’s Cedar River layout on Sundays after 2 p.m. Visit www.shantycreek.com for more details.

Traveling to southwest Michigan, in Centreville, Island Hills has multiple loops of 5, 7, or 12 holes within their traditional 18-hole routing, depending upon the time of day. This stunning course, carved from hills and the peninsulas around Lake Templene, is ideal for golfers who do not have the time, stamina, or money for a full round. Junior programs abound and kids 13 and under play for free with a paying adult. Don’t miss lunch or dinner: the food is superb and goes far beyond normal 19th Hole Grill offerings.

At Treetops Resort, a member of the Gaylord Golf Mecca, the First Annual Women’s Golf Festival runs from August 11-15. Women can create their own free-form daily or multiple day package of lodging, golf, lessons, demos, pro tips, spa treatments, and more….all at discounted rates. Spouses and kids are welcome too. See WGF.treetops.com for details.

Other grow-the-game efforts around the state include Play Golf America’s ‘Get Golf Ready’ clinics which are designed to teach you everything you need to know to step onto a golf course with confidence…all five lessons range from $70-$100. Topics are: Get Rolling, Hit It Close, Swing, Swing, Swing, Driving School, and Ready, Set, Go Golf; many sessions are available through October so it’s not too late to begin. See getgolfready.com for site information.  All equipment is supplied; just bring yourself, friends, or family.

TGA Premier Junior Golf in southeast Michigan is a youth development golf program for PK-8th grade students which takes place primarily at elementary schools and youth centers. TGA’s curriculum was created by golf professionals and education experts to include lesson plans that are fun, safe and educational, utilizing fields, blacktops, gyms and even hallways.

According to Owner and Territory Director Dave Robinson, formerly a 22-year Detroit Free Press editor, “the kids are inspired most by the magic of being on a real golf course during our summer camps. They enjoy learning fundamentals, rules and etiquette in our after-school classes and during the instructional part of camp. But they are truly excited to be on the course.”  By partnering with Michigan golf facilities, TGA then gets the whole family involved through mom classes and parent/child events using the following components:

  • Golf instruction that is age-appropriate, effective and retainable
  • Character development lessons through our initiative “Play the Fair Way with TGA”
  • Physical education and fitness
  • Rules & Etiquette lessons utilizing our custom 2 Hole Teaching Aid
  • Academic lessons in math, science, history and English

Now at 75 locations with fall, winter and spring classes, summer camps are conducted at eight courses including Salem Hills, Heather Highlands, Downing FarmsSycamore Hills, and Glen Oaks. More local information is available at playtga.com.  Franchises throughout the state are also open for development. The program’s national link is www.golftga.com.

The Michigan Golf Course Owners Association is committed to maintaining great golf courses but its members are also consistently improving opportunities for play.  The Golden Passbook, offers free golf for 2-4 players at 88 top courses in Michigan along with other discounts on lodging and services. Many of these courses are highly rated in Golf Digest, GolfWeek, and Golf Magazine: Yarrow, Marsh Ridge, A Ga Ming, Michaywe, Manistee National, Black Forest, Island Hills, Grande Golf Club, Fox Hills, the Grand Hotel, Shanty Creek, Treetops, Hidden River Golf and Casting Club, Westwynd, Buck’s Run, Boyne, Gull Lake View, Red Hawk, The Fortress, St. Ives, McGuire’s, and more.  With another three good months of golf left, buy the Passbook now for $300 (regular price $550).  Go to mgcoa.org or call Executive Director Kate Moore at 800-860-8575.

Will you be taking advantage of one (or more) of these Michigan golf opportunities? 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.

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.