Six Reasons You’ll Want to Golf on a Frozen Great Lake

You don’t have to leave the Midwest this winter to enjoy a mind-blowing round of golf. The U.P. Ice Golf Scramble will take place March 1, 2014, in St. Ignace. Calling it a one-of-a-kind event just doesn’t do it justice. Mindy Rutgers from St. Ignace Visitors Bureau tells us why:

1. A Chip Off the Old (ice) Block

You know your favorite course like the back of your hand. You may have even golfed all of the interesting venues in Michigan.  Let St. Ignace introduce you to a new course and a new twist on your favorite pastime. Anyone can say they shot the back nine, but how many of your friends can say they played on 12 plus inches of ice? Few duffers can lay claim to rounds on Lake Huron or Lake Michigan, but the UP Ice Golf Scramble has courses on both of the lakes.

2. A Fun and Level Playing Field

Literally and figuratively – this outing offers a level playing field. Literally – because the lakes are flat and the courses as level as Mother Nature can make them. Figuratively, because we’ve constructed an event that places the emphasis on fun. It’s a two-person, best-ball scramble, which is our way of saying that even if you’ve never golfed in your life, partner up and take a swing at a winter adventure. No handicaps. No pros. Just fun.

3. White is The New Green

Swap your golf cart for a sled and turn your white golf balls a color of your choosing and you’re ready to play one of the three courses offered – the Chief Wawatam on Lake Huron, the Mighy Mac on Lake Michigan or the Greenland, also on Lake Michigan.

4. Go to the Extreme

Golf is traditionally a quiet, relaxed sport. But in this age of amped-up activities, bucket lists, and thrill-seeking, what could be more extreme than playing through atop 20 fathoms of icy cold waters? St. Ignace has a long history of using the frozen Great Lakes as a playground – from snowmobiling to pond hockey championships – but if you haven’t golfed Michigan or Huron, you haven’t taken full advantage of the state’s winter wonderland.

5. A Mighty Mac of a Prize

Teams can also enter a decorated sled for judging and a chance to win two tickets to the top of the Mackinac Bridge towers. These coveted tours don’t come around often, so flex your creative muscle and get to work on a showpiece sled that will dazzle the judges and your fellow golfers.

6. Golf Clothes Never Looked So Good

Are you turned off by the stuffy attire required on some courses? Ice golfers can forget about the preppy polo shirt or the golf knickers. Pack your thermal underwear, your fleece and anything else that can provide layers of warmth. Make sure you have a touk (a knitted winter hat) or a Stormy Kromer (a stylish wool cap made in the Upper Peninsula) and remember your sun glasses because St. Ignace is known for beautiful winter sunshine!

Learn more and register for the U.P. Ice Golf Scramble at www.stignace.com or call (800)338-6660.

Have you ever played golf on a frozen Great Lake? Tell us about your experience!

Mindy Rutgers is the Executive Director of the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau. She has worked in Michigan’s tourism & hospitality industry since 1996, holding posts in the Detroit metro area, as well as in the Upper Peninsula. She is also a seasoned ice golfer, but will focus on hosting, rather than competing in, the UP Ice Golf Scramble. 

Get Pure Michigan FIT this Summer

If your Labor Day or summer travels land you in Michigan, the Michigan Fitness Foundation has plenty for you to do and many chances for you to be “Pure Michigan Fit.” From their annual Mackinac Bridge Labor Day Run to other intiatives, there are a number of ways to get moving this summer. Read from their team below and visit michigan.org to see more ideas on staying active around Pure Michigan.

The Michigan Fitness Foundation and Pure Michigan FIT envision a healthier Michigan and provide tools and resources that promote physical fitness and health in Michigan while hosting and promoting events geared toward fostering healthy lifestyles. If you’re visiting the Great Lakes State and looking for a fun activity that promotes health, there are a many fitness and wellness events to participate in and you can help Get Michigan Moving!

The Mackinac Bridge Labor Day Run is one of many fitness events hosted by the Michigan Fitness Foundation that aims to Get Michigan Moving. The Mackinac Bridge Run is a non-competitive five mile run that brings friends, families, and runners all across Michigan together and moving on Labor Day! The run is in its 10th year and it takes place on the beautiful Mackinac Bridge at sunrise on Labor Day. Hundreds of runners line the bridge and take part in the Michigan tradition of staying active on Labor Day.

We don’t just want to Get Michigan Moving, but keep Michigan moving and the Mackinac Labor Day Bridge Walk has kept Michiganders walking for the past 56 years. The Mackinac Bridge Labor Day Walk brings thousands of people, together on Labor Day to get active and celebrate the end of summer while promoting and encouraging physical activity. While many see Labor Day as a day of rest and a celebration of the end of summer, we see it as a day to come together and promote physical activity and fitness around the state.

The push to Get Michigan Moving is always in effect. There are many events around the state of Michigan that promote physical activity and fitness on Labor Day. If you’re visiting, check your nearby community to see if they’re hosting a Labor Day Community Walk event. Community Walk events are organized communities walks that bring people together and moving on Labor Day. This event allows you to take part in the Michigan tradition by being active while having fun and exploring the communities around you.

If you already have plans for Labor Day, don’t worry, there are many fitness and health events happening all summer long in Michigan! The Michigan Fitness Foundation has partnered with Pure Michigan FIT to endorse fitness events that are a part of the Pure Michigan FITness Series. This series highlights programs that promote physical fitness, wellness and healthy living. No matter where you land in Michigan or what you like, there is something for everyone to do. From 5k races to relay teams, there is a variety of fitness events to keep you moving all summer long.  A list of events can be found through the Michigan Fitness Foundation’s event finder tool.

If you want to spend your Labor Day being active and promoting physical activity and being Pure Michigan Fit, then visit the Mighty Mac and take part in Michigan’s tradition. Take part in Getting Michigan Moving, you’ll be glad you did.

The Michigan Fitness Foundation’s mission is to improve lives and strengthen communities by helping people eat healthy and be physically active. The Governor’s Council and Michigan Fitness Foundation works to bring about behavior change through programming, special projects and events that encourage citizens to build physical activity and sound nutrition into their daily routine.  By empowering, facilitating and celebrating healthy choices, we will foster prosperity for all.

Six Scenic Drives for Pure Michigan Summer Road Trips

As school and work schedules slow down and temperatures heat up, summer is the perfect time for a road trip in Pure Michigan! Nick Nerbonne of The Awesome Mitten has rounded up a list of some great road trips around the state.

Summer is meant for road trips with the windows down, music up, and good times on the horizon. Fortunately for Michiganders, and for those who visit us here in the Mitten, there are plenty of options for beautiful drives that showcase the beauty of the Great Lakes State.

I’ve had the pleasure of exploring quite a bit of Michigan’s pleasant peninsulas, and when I hop in the car and hit the road from my home in Traverse City, I often find myself heading toward the miles of Great Lakes coastline that are always just a  short drive away, no matter where you are in the state. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Red Arrow Highway from New Buffalo to St. Joseph

Head north from New Buffalo on Red Arrow Highway along Lake Michigan to explore the quaint coastal villages of Union Pier, Lakeside and Harbert on your way to St. Joseph. Known for its art galleries and antiques, this popular summer cruise also features numerous Lake Michigan beaches.

The region’s climate is heavily influenced by Lake Michigan, and orchards and vineyards checker the landscape. Sample wines at tasting rooms for over a dozen wineries along the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail, and bring a few bottles home to open while sharing the memories.

Don’t miss: Weko Beach

Follow the signs from Red Arrow Highway in Bridgman to this beautiful stretch of Lake Michigan beach. Day passes are available, or reserve a campsite and catch one of Weko Beach’s famous sunsets.

2. M-22 from Arcadia to Frankfort

M-22 receives much of its well-deserved notoriety for the many scenic destinations along its northern reaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. While these are among my favorite day trips in Michigan, I often look further south along this scenic coastal highway, beginning in the village of Arcadia.

On a hot summer day, the beach at Arcadia is the perfect place for a refreshing swim along the sandy shore. After cooling off in the “Big Lake,” head north along M-22 for scenic vistas from the tops of the wooded hills to the Lake Michigan port city of Frankfort. Grab a Michigan craft beer at newly-opened Stormcloud Brewing Company and stroll along Frankfort’s pier to the very photogenic lighthouse.

Don’t miss: Lake Michigan overlook just north of Arcadia

Head north along M-22 from Arcadia and stop at the scenic turnout just outside of town. Climb the steps for a spectacular view from atop the bluff.

3. M-23 from Tawas City to Alpena

Often overlooked by travelers heading north, Michigan’s “Sunrise Coast” offers a Great Lakes setting with a beauty all its own. From M-55 in Tawas City, M-23 skirts the Lake Huron shoreline through the coastal villages of Oscoda and Harrisville on its way north to Alpena. Pack a picnic and enjoy the scenery at Alpena’s waterfront park adjacent to the marina on the shores of Thunder Bay.

Harrisville State Park offers campsites directly on Lake Huron. Make your reservation early to get the best view of the beach.

Don’t miss: Sturgeon Point Lighthouse

Constructed in 1870, this classic Lake Huron beacon is a must-stop when traveling along M-23.

4. River Road Scenic Byway

The River Road Scenic Byway leads visitors west along the AuSable River from Oscoda. The drive lives up to its name, with several viewpoints high above the AuSable Valley along the way, but also provides a glimpse into the area’s past as a major hub in Michigan’s timber industry. Hiking trails and elaborate staircases provide access to the water’s edge, so bring your hiking shoes.

Don’t Miss: Lumberman’s Monument

Dedicated in 1932, Lumberman’s Monument recognizes the hard-working lumbermen of Michigan’s early logging industry. Follow the trail northeast from the

Lumberman’s Monument Visitor Center for a panoramic view of the AuSable River and surrounding area.

5. US-2 from St. Ignace to Manistique

A trip across the “Mighty Mac” always involves breathtaking scenery, and the drive west from St. Ignace on U.S. 2 doesn’t disappoint. After passing the famed Mystery Spot just outside of town, the highway re-joins the Lake Michigan shoreline for several miles. Locals and visitors alike stop along the way for picnics among the dunes and swimming in the Lake Michigan surf.

Any visit to “The Yoop” would not be complete without an authentic Upper Peninsula pasty. Hiawatha Pasties in Naubinway, about 45 minutes west of St. Ignace, is a favorite of locals and visitors alike.

Don’t miss: Cut River Bridge Overlook

Park at the scenic turnout about 25 miles west of St. Ignace for a view of Lake Michigan and the Cut River 150 feet below; a trail and staircase lead to the valley floor for those looking for a mid-drive adventure.

6. M-134 from Hessel to Drummond Island

Head east on M-134 from I-75 north of St. Ignace for views of Lake Huron and the Les Cheneaux Islands that go undiscovered by many. The classic boathouses of the early-1900s cottages and rocky shorelines of Les Cheneaux’s 36 islands are seen by many as reminiscent of east-coast hideaways found along the coast of Maine. If you’re lucky enough to make the drive early in the morning, keep your camera ready for a photo of a sailboat moored among the morning mist in one of the many natural harbors.

Don’t miss: Antique Wooden Boat Show in Hessel

Held each August in the Les Cheneaux Islands, the Antique Wooden Boat show is one of the largest gatherings in the country of classic vessels dating back to the early 1900s.

Nick Nerbonne is an online marketing specialist, outdoor adventurer, craft beer drinker, wine enthusiast, and aspiring photographer from Traverse City.