An Overlooked Golfing Wonderland
been referred to as the "Mecca of the Midwest" and
after heading there as a skeptic, I returned as true believer.
The title does justice to the many great daily fee and resort
courses scattered around the glacier-carved valleys and hills
between Traverse City and Mackinaw City.
a state that is relatively unknown on this side of the pond
and so are some facts. It is only a few hours from touching
the arctic circle, itís major city is Detroit, itís capital
thing that goes unnoticed is that
itís sprawling countryside and many lakes are over 800 public
golf courses, more than any other state in the US. The playing
season that runs from April to October is really taken advantage
of it seems, and I was quite happy to get a fair slab of the
leisure pie. Especially as the summer nights extend past 10pm.
main flights land in Detroit and a domestic flight to Traverse City
takes you into the centre of the golf. After that, you will only
need a 20-minute drive to get to the Grande Traverse complex which
has a course called The Bear. Surprisingly, Jack Nicklaus designed
this track over ten years ago and it travels over much uneven terrain
with great flair where most holes are a pleasure to play. In true
USA style, water is a constant factor and rears itís ugly head just
when a test is needed in the round.
To the south
of Traverse City lies Crystal Mountain, another one of north Michiganís
top resorts. This pristine place offers 27 holes, with the three
9-holers named Mountain Ridge, Mountain Ridge and Mountain Meadows.
All three are very playable and of course with titles like that,
have a certain amount of fall and rise about them. The Creek course
is regarded as the toughest because it boast the most water (6 holes).
Traverse City, and you hit true Michigan country. Namely,
a rolling, leafy landscape with plenty of wildlife from racoons
to black bears. Home-made fudge is the main delicacy and this
explains why all the locals refer to tourists as "fudgies",
which was something you really cannot figure out on your own.
next port of call is at The Legends, which overlooks the serenity
of Lake Michigan. I have moved from Jack to Arnie, because
Mr Palmer designed this course and the nearby Shanty Creek.
Both courses are on similar lines, sending
golfer into uncharted country where the clubhouse could be
anywhere but out towards the lake. The relaxation out here
definitely goes up a notch as you intertwine with all the
little lakes off Lake Michigan (there are over 300). The views
that meet you on the approach to the clubhouse are why a place
like this is growing so fast in popularity.
A scenic alpine
course can be found at Boyne Mountain, while a highlands feel is
fulfilled at The Moors, arguably the most difficult course in the
area. Another great layout nearby is Bay Harbour, which hugs the
coastline and is currently bidding for the Ryder Cup. The views
here look across to Beaver Island, which is currently building the
most exclusive club in Michigan.
hit the bays and beaches of Lake Michigan, all sorts of golfing
surprises present themselves. It seems all the top designers and
investors have seen the potential that this place has, and the arrival
of many great courses in the past five years is the result. Crooked
Tree, Black Bear and Garland are gems that have fulfilled the demand
this place has had and all enjoy the summer breezes that swirl off
great enjoyment gazing at inlets, streams, islands and boats,
I finally head inland to Gaylord. It is a modest city that also
has plenty of golf to offer. I pick Treetops, which sounds as
if it would balance out the waterworld adventure so far, but
it turns out to be a fallacy. Like many courses, it is misleading
(I played a course called Sand Ridge in Florida which had no
bunkers) and doesnít exactly fill itself with
treetops. Anyway, it was a brilliant course designed by Americaís
top dog Tom Fazio with rivers, streams, lakes and some fairway.
The course passes a place called "The Sanctuary" where
the flora and fauna get priority and a gentle whisper to your
playing partner seems dreadfully out of place, such is the atmosphere.
The state of
Michigan is like many in the US, where winter sports are as big
as the summer activities and it shows. Many courses are paired with
ski resorts where fairways act as slopes in the winter and ski lifts
are dotted on the landscape. Once the snow melts though, the golfers
come and come in great numbers, but with all these great places
to play, who could blame them?
Resort- 001 616 2679900
001 616 3782911
Shanty Creek- 001
Boyne Mountain- 001