According to those in the know, from golf magazine rankings to “people’s choice” awards, Michigan is among the places in the country that golfers should play. The praise for Pure Michigan golf is due, in great part, to the work of noted designers who have coaxed championship courses out of the woods and farmlands, incorporating hills and valleys, natural water features and incredible views---including some of the Great Lakes. America’s summer golf capital has more than 800 courses that are open to the public, with golf for every level of play and packages and specials that help make it affordable. And with Michigan’s long summer daylight stretching into the late evening hours there’s plenty of time to get in extra rounds at twilight prices.
Harbor Shores , on the Lake Michigan coast near Benton Harbor and St. Joseph is enjoying praise in its first full season and will host the 2012 and 2014 Senior PGA Championships. The Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course incorporates the natural assets of the Paw Paw River, Ox Creek, woods, wetlands, ravines and dunes---not to mention views of the Great Lake. Check out the packages with lodging at local hotels.
There are many opportunities for learning the game or improving your swing at golf schools and lessons across the state, including the new golf clinics at Harbor Shores and new academies at two other Michigan resorts.
New this season in the Traverse City area, the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa opened a new Golf Academy, featuring 2008 PGA Professional National Champion and six-time Michigan Open Champion Scott Hebert as Director of Instruction. Classes for all levels include one, two, and three-day schools, clinics for groups, ladies-only, and juniors, and on-course instruction. Resort’s courses are Spruce Run by William Newcomb, The Wolverine by Gary Player, and The Bear, the design by Jack Nicklaus rated one of the toughest in the Midwest. Play the championship courses for less with one of the Grand Traverse lodging/golf packages.
The 2011 Northern Michigan PGA Teacher of the Year brings his expertise to guests at Otsego Club & Resort in Gaylord with the opening of the new Jason Guss Golf Academy. The Academy offers one, two, and three-day sessions, on-course instruction, programs for student and women golfers and families, and one-on-one lessons for players of all levels. The new Golf Academy Lodge is adjacent to the resort’s 25-acre practice facility, and features an indoor hitting bay with computer analysis and indoor putting and chipping areas. Otsego’s challenging course, The Tribute and the player-friendly Classic, take advantage of the views of the scenic Sturgeon River Valley.
Gaylord Golf Mecca
Otsego is one of 21 members of the Gaylord Golf Mecca, where you can play internationally-known courses at Treetops and Garland resorts one day and discover “hidden gems” like the Tom Doak-designed Black Forest the next.
Course architect and golf instructor Rick Smith’s name is all over Treetops Resort, with his Tradition and Signature courses and Treetops, rated the top par three courses in the country, plus the Rick Smith Golf Academy. Treetops is also home to Michigan’s only Tom Fazio course, The Premier, as well as The Masterpiece by Robert Trent Jones.
Garland Lodge & Resort dots 3,500 acres with 72 holes on four golf courses---Reflections, Swampfire, Monarch and Fountains---anchored by the largest log lodge east of the Mississippi. Check out a half dozen packages including getaways for the girls, couples, and golf-til-you-drop fanatics.
Golfing the Mitten
Enjoy the Canthooke Valley course or face the more challenging Cutters Ridge, designed by Jerry Matthews, at Manistee National Golf & Resort. In addition to the stay-and-play packages at the resort you can combine two great Pure Michigan experiences---golf and fishing---with a custom package that includes a charter fishing excursion on Lake Michigan or a guided outing on the Manistee River.
Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire are celebrating the 25th anniversary of one of their own: Book a tee time after 4pm and you can play Arnold Palmer’s legendary Legend for just $25 through the season. Rounding out the roster of Shanty courses are Cedar River, designed by Tom Weiskopf, plus Schuss Mountain and The Summit.
Sample the Gr8 golf at the Boyne Resorts, Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands, in the Northeast Lower Peninsula on a Gr8 Escape Golf Vacation. Choose a three or five-night package and enjoy unlimited golf on seven courses including the Monument and Heather (and preferred pricing at Bay Harbor Golf Club), plus some meals, entertainment, and Boyne Highlands amenities.
Family-friendly Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa in Thompsonville, south of Traverse City, offers golf instruction for all levels and a Pure Michigan Summer Family Vacation that includes access to the on-site water park, climbing wall, and a twilight round of golf at Betsie Valley. The resort’s other course is Mountain Ridge, known for its 200’ climb and sweeping views.
Golfing the Motor City and Beyond
Travelers to Southeast Michigan can enjoy top golf just a short drive from Detroit and Metro Airport on 27 holes at The Inn at St. Johns in Plymouth. Arthur Hills designed the course at Shepherd’s Hollow in Clarkston, with 27-holes on 350 acres of a former seminary/retreat. The bent grass and bunkers feel like a wee bit O’ Scotland at The Fortress in Frankenmuth (near its parent company’s restaurant, the world famous Zehnder’s).
Golfing the UP
Members of the Upper Peninsula Golf Association range from the far north 9-hole course at Keweenaw Mountain Lodge to 18 holes on the largest freshwater island in the U.S., The Rock at Drummond Island Resort, a mile off the eastern tip of the Upper Peninsula. Log lodges at both locations leave no doubt you’re playing “Up North.”
Stunning natural granite formations and views of Lake Superior set the scene for the 18 holes at Greywalls, one of two courses of Marquette Golf Club. The original 9 holes of the Club’s Heritage course opened in 1926; it was expanded to 18 holes in 1969.
After a round on the longest 18-hole course in the UP at the George Young Recreational Complex you can enjoy the indoor pool, sauna, and nature and mountain bike trails of the 3,300-acre public facility near Iron River.