Wel­come to North­ern Michi­gan

Golf Vacations - - News - by David R. Hol­land

The breeze off Lake Michi­gan is steady, and from the el­e­vated 10th tee at Ar­ca­dia Bluffs, with mas­sive sand dunes and men­ac­ing tall fes­cue wav­ing, you could close your eyes and think this is Scot­land or Ire­land.

The breeze off Lake Michi­gan is steady, and from the el­e­vated 10th tee at Ar­ca­dia Bluffs, with mas­sive sand dunes and men­ac­ing tall fes­cue wav­ing, you could close your eyes and think this is Scot­land or Ire­land. There’s a sliver of green fairway snaking down to­ward the lake. That’s your tar­get. The ad­ven­tur­ous strike a draw tak­ing on an aim­ing pole that goes over a tall dune to safe green grass. Wel­come to North­ern Michi­gan where there are more qual­ity, world-class golf cour­ses than you shake a nine iron at. It’s a road trip ad­ven­ture that’s no big deal for a Texan on a seven-day ex­plo­ration. While Ar­ca­dia Bluffs is the top-ranked pub­lic course in Michi­gan it is not a per­fect bumpand-run grounder above places like Bay Har­bor Golf Club and the must-stay Inn at Bay Har­bor, which is an ad­mirable clone of San Diego’s Ho­tel Del Coron­ado. It’s not that greater than the in­cred­i­ble 10 cour­ses in the Boyne port­fo­lio or most talked about new Michi­gan layout -- the USA’s first re­versible 18-hole course de­signed by Tom Doak at For­est Dunes named The Loop. You might like Tom Weiskopf’s For­est Dunes Golf Club even bet­ter. And I still haven’t men­tioned the Up­per Pen- in­sula -- an ad­ven­ture over the world-fa­mous Mack­inac Bridge to Sweet­grass Golf Club at Is­land Re­sort and Casino and Mar­quette Golf Club’s amaz­ing scenery of Grey­walls. North­ern Michi­gan has be­come a golf des­ti­na­tion few avid golfers would ever take off their must-play list. Here’s a cap­sule look:

Ar­ca­dia Bluffs Golf Club, Ar­ca­dia, Mich.

Since I haven’t played Lahinch or Bally­bunion my first im­pres­sion was that Ar­ca­dia Bluffs re­minded me of Trump Scot­land, but with a bet­ter view of water -- Lake Michi­gan. The 7,300-yard War­ren Hen­der­son-Rick Smith de­sign (1999) has 3,000 feet of lake frontage, 265 acres, non-end­ing views, 40 sod-walled bunkers, wide fair­ways and greens so rolling you will have some three putts. Lodg­ing started with a sec­ond floor to the club­house, named The Lodge, where I spent the night. Since then Ar­ca­dia has added The Cot­tages and The Bluffs Lodge. The Din­ing Room, The Lakeview Room and The Sun­room serve ex­cel­lent food and un­par­alled views of the lake. The new South Course will have a soft open­ing next fall and is an ode to Chicago Golf Club with square greens and lin­ear bunkers with deep bot­toms. Dana Fry is the lead ar­chi­tect.

Inn at Bay Har­bor, Bay Har­bor, Mich.

Boyne’s flag­ship is Bay Har­bor Golf Club with three di­verse nines -- Links, Quarry and Pre­serve. These nines, de­signed by Arthur Hills, are scenic, fun, chal­leng­ing and sport photo ops through­out. “There’s a very short list of re­sort’s that have 10 cour­ses with such va­ri­ety and long sum­mer days with tem­per­a­tures from 72 to 82 and low hu­mid­ity,” said Ken Grif­fin, gen­eral man­ager. At the Inn at Bay Har­bor you fre­quently hear “Peb­ble Beach of the Mid­west” and “best sun­set on Lake Michi­gan”. Other Boyne golf op­tions in­clude Crooked Tree Golf Club, and Boyne High­lands’ The Alpine and The Mon­u­ment. Also think about these top cour­ses when you are in the area: Belvedere Golf Club and Dun­ma­glas Golf Course.

Boyne High­lands, Har­bor Springs, Mich.

Just a short drive away is Boyne High­lands, also a ski re­sort, with a va­ri­ety of 1,500 room and condos, you will ar­rive at the 50-year-old clas­sic Heather Course de­signed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., but that’s not all. A few min­utes away tee it up at the Don­ald Ross Memo­rial Course and a Arthur Hills’ clas­sic The Moor. There was such a buzz when I got out of my car I thought there must be a mas­sive tourna-

ment day, but one of the greeters said, “Nope this is just a nor­mal day”. My road trip over Mack­inac Bridge to more im­pres­sive golf on Michi­gan’s Up­per Penin­sula

Sweet­grass Golf Club and Is­land Re­sort & Casino, Har­ris, Mich.

Tony Man­cilla looks over Sweet­grass Golf Club like a proud gen­eral man­ager. “We have the bud­get of a pri­vate club, but we are smart when we spend money,” he said. Smart also is build­ing Sage Run Golf Club, a few miles away from Sweet­grass, which is flat and linksy. Sage Run will climb forested hills and have lots of el­e­va­tion fun. “When we first built the Sweet­grass course, we wanted to have golf as an amenity for our re­sort guests,” said Man­cilla. “But over the years we have had more and more golfers com­ing to the re­sort and have evolved into a top golf des­ti­na­tion. Adding a sec­ond golf course was a nat­u­ral move for us and some­thing that our golf­ing guests were de­mand­ing. “Paul Al­banese is an ar­chi­tect who lets the land dic­tate what the course will be, and at Sage Run the land is 180 de­grees in con­trast to the land where Sweet­grass was cre­ated,” Man­cilla said. When Sage Run opens in June 2018 it will be the fourth new Michi­gan golf course to open in the last four years -- For­est Dunes’ The Loop and Stoatin Brae Golf Club in Au­gusta are on the list and Ar­ca­dia Bluffs’ South Course is the other.

Mar­quette Golf Club’s Grey­walls, Mar­quette, Mich.

Grey­walls was a fa­vorite be­cause of the rugged gray gran­ite walls and an open­ing perched first tee box with a view of Lake Su­pe­rior. This Mike DeVries de­sign is by far from an easy jour­ney, but it was loads of fun. Greens are tricky and there are some blind drives but I’d love to play it fre­quently. Mar­quette Golf Club is also home to the Her­itage Course, de­signed by Wil­liam Lang­ford and David Gill. This park­land course opened in 1926, and both cour­ses are an easy drive from Is­land Re­sort & Casino. Fi­nal road trip stop is For­est Dunes, Roscom­mon, Mich. Owner Lew Thomp­son wasn’t wowed by the first cou­ple of plans Tom Doak rolled out in front of him for a sec­ond golf course at For­est Dunes. But when Doak placed one plan over the other and sug­gested the first re­versible 18-hole golf course in the USA Thomp­son was sold. Two golf cour­ses for the price of one. The Loop was born. It plays hard and fast on fes­cue and you bet­ter learn to bump it along the ground early in your round or you will be walk­ing to the back of the greens all day. The Black is played clock­wise one day, and The Red is played coun­ter­clock­wise the next day. With the truly unique yardage book it’s not hard to fig­ure out where you are go­ing and its a fun manda­tory walk (push carts and cad­dies avail­able). For­est Dunes Golf Club de­signed by Tom Weiskopf was my fa­vorite though. It is green, lush and forested with the Huron Na­tional For­est bor­der­ing. Water fea­tures, bunkers and trees must be avoided, but it is a blast. The 19th hole, an ex­tra par 3, looks to­ward the ex­cel­lent club­house and stay-and-play op­tions are avail­able and com­fort­able along with fine din­ing op­tions. An hour’s drive back to Tra­verse City’s Cherry Cap­i­tal Air­port and you are on your way home -- dream­ing all the way of your next ad­ven­ture in Michi­gan, which is a to­tal win­ner for a golf va­ca­tion. Don’t dare leave it off your bucket list.

Ar­ca­dia Bluffs - Hole #5

Boyne High­lands Arthur Hills Course No. 18

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