The Jewel at the Grand Hotel-Mackinac Island
There is probably not a better place to start an Upper Peninsula golf trek than the Jewel and Wawashkamo courses at Mackinac Island. With this package, you have the old and new and a horse or two.
The Jewel, now 18 holes, is a wonderful blend of resort and northern Michigan golf. Golfs can enjoy the spectacular views of the Grand Hotel and Lake Huron on the front nine and, after a 20-minute carriage ride, take on the challenges that Jerry Matthews has brought us on the back nine (see review in June '94 MG). It is a wonderful course and has certainly topped off the amenities at this one of a kind resort.
If you have never been to the Grand Hotel, it is a real treat. Plus, you will not find better service anywhere in Michigan. But, take all the money you can find with you, it is expensive.
18 Holes, 906-847-3331.
Wawashkamo will be having its 100th birthday soon. Built in 1898, it is the oldest nine-hole course in Michigan. This historical treasure is getting dressed up for its birthday with new irrigation systems for tees and greens. They have added a few bunkers and given a little more definition to the course. However, one does not make radical changes to the "other Jewel" on the island. Larry Grow, course superintendent and in charge of just about everything else, says the course is in better shape than ever. Larry has been there for 11 years and is unabashedly excited about the new look of the place. "We have restored the buildings and worked hard on other aspects of restoration." Grow also added, "We are becoming a real depository for golf memorabilia. Plus, we are getting discovered by the golf writers. Mike Bamberger of Golf Digest recently did a nice piece on the course for their June '95 issue."
9 holes, 906-847-3871.
St. Ignace Golf and Country Club
There are some places that just defy words. The view from the verandah of the St. Ignace Golf and Country Club is one of them. This marvelous nine-holer with superb views of the Mackinac Bridge, Straits and Lake Michigan, is just the ticket to make you glad that you ventured above the Bridge. City owned, the club is currently managed by Cheryl Schlehuber. Located immediately west on US-2, it is well worth the stop, even if just for lunch.
9 holes, 3050 yards, 906-643-8071.
Les Cheneaux GC - Cedarville
According to Dick Rutledge, superintendent of Les Cheneaux for the past four years, the course just keeps getting better. Built by a group of Bay City businessmen in 1898, the course had been kept private until the '50s. Essentially, it was a part of a club that was put together as a recreational site for the mega-rich. Families from Armour Meats, Procter and Gamble, Eli Lilley and Montgomery Ward were among the members of the club. Most of them summered at Market Point, a small peninsula jutting into Lake Huron. In 1950, the club opened up the course to local play.
As you might imagine, the course is very compact and link-like in construction. You need not wander far for your next tee shot after putting out, the tee area is "right there." There are some unusual rock outcroppings located throughout the course, somewhat similar to the ones you see at Sugar Loaf and the back nine at the Grand Hotel. They are both unique and formidable hazards. You should stop by and sample what golf architecture was 100 years ago.
The course is west of Cedarville, off of M 134.
Dick Rutledge, 9 holes, par 35, 2470 yards, 906-484-3606.
Hessel Golf Course-Hessel
Dan Hitchens, owner of the new Hessel Golf Course, hopes to debut the front nine in early summer of '96. This promises to be a beautiful course with views of the Mackinac Bridge. It is being designed by Jeff Gorney of Little Traverse Bay, Grayling CC and Sparrow Hawk fame.
Hessel is located on M-134, just past St. Martens Bay. 906-484-2107.
Hiawatha Sportsman Club-Engadine/Naubinway
Hiawatha, a 35,000-acre hunting and fishing community of about 1100 members, is located on US-2, about 50 miles west of the Bridge. The club has seven miles of front age on Lake Michigan for openers and is located betwixt Engadine and Naubinway.
The course was built in the late '30s. An aerial shot in the clubhouse illustrates how vast the complex is. You can see the golf course cut out of this vast northern forest. The irrigation is provided by Mother/Father Nature, so there can be some interesting bounces in the summer if the course dries out.
While it is deemed private, you might be able to get on if you can make the right pitch at the clubhouse. Bob Laban, a club member since his dad joined the club in the '30s, volunteers his service to the club now. Bob held the course record-a 29-in his younger days. He plays to a 12 handicap now and gets out when he can.
Munoscong Golf Club-Pickford
See review in April/May '96 Michigan Golfer.
Bay Mills Tribal Chairman, Jeff Parker, has hired Mike Husby to build an 18 hole championship golf course at Four Seasons Resort and Casino in Brimley. The tribe, 125 members strong, is committed to focusing entirely on building a complex that assures the visitor top notch quality. Currently, the casino has a 70-room hotel with a restaurant.
The golf course, over three years in the planning, is yet another step toward the goal of enhancing the casino property. Further plans call for a marina to jut out into White fish Bay.
Husby, who recently launched Husby Golf, a turnkey golf company, is well known for his work in the Gaylord area. Husby designed both The Loon and Marsh Ridge golf courses.
"I have a great piece of property to work with," Husby said. "It has 100 feet of elevation from the shores of White fish Bay to the bluffs that overlook it. The property is currently heavily wooded, which should contribute to some spectacular golf holes."
Dan Donarski, executive director of the Sault Ste. Marie Convention and Tourism Bureau, is excited about the growing golf community. "We now have seven courses in the immediate area," Donarski said. "We are very excited about the new Bay Mills course coming on board."
Work on Bay Mills will begin this summer, with a late summer 1997 opening hoped for.
Golfers who want a copy of the Sault Ste. Marie-area brochure can get one by calling 800-647-2858.
Kincheloe Memorial Publlc Golf Course - Kinross
Billed as the Upper Peninsula's Most Beautiful Golf Course, Kincheloe is definitely a visual feast. When questioning the local Upper Peninsula players, this course is always mentioned as one of the UP's finest. The front nine of this former Kincheloe Air Force golf course and the back nine developed by the township eight years ago, blend into a well-manicured mature and challenging golf course. The fairways are usually in absolutely great shape. Of no small importance is the sandy soil that the course is built on. Water does not stay on the course very long. While this does not seem like a big deal, this is one of the few courses in the area that can bounce back after a heavy rain.
A big reason for the "look" of the course is Brian Hamp, a MSU turfgrass school graduate. After a year in Iowa, and five years at Vassar, Hamp took the job at Kincheloe. GM Dick Renz credits Hamp with putting the course into shape. Although play was down a tad last year, Kincheloe has a history of steady growth. About 60% of the club's business comes from Canada, 10% comes from the gaming market, another 10% from downstate, and the rest of the golfers are locals. There are 400 members in the club.
Jack Specter, former superintendent at both Kincheloe and Marquette CC, designed the back nine.
Incidentally, Kincheloe was an Air Force officer that received Ace status in the Korean War. He was also a test pilot involved in the X series of high speed aircraft that broke the sound barrier. He was later killed in a test flight.
18 Holes, 906-495-5706.
Newberry Country Club - Newberry
Bill Marshall, general manager of the club, allows that business is great. Built in 1926, the course has aged very well. Newberry gets a lot of play from folks visiting from downstate. They also have a loyal following of folks from other states.
The club has purchased some additional land that will eventually become another nine. Bill indicated that it might be a couple of years before they bring it on.
Like all of the Upper Peninsula courses, the prices are right and the product is very good.
Bill Marshall, 906-293-8422.
Sault Ste. Marie Country Club
Jerry Matthews was recently brought in for some cosmetic changes on the course. He designed the back nine 12 years ago and the club invited him back to add ponds and mounds to the course. He will also be asked to freshen up some of the original nine at a later date. The course lies just across the road from the St. Mary's River and is built primarily on bottom land, thus, drainage is very important.
This is a members club that allows day play. Golfers can use the pro shop and its facilities. The clubhouse is used by the membership. Play has increased substantially, aided by the local casino business.
Golfers will find a well-maintained, challenging and mature golf course. The fairways are generally in excellent shape. The makeover has been well received by the membership. Matthews has added some nice mounding between 16 and 17 and brought some ponds into play. The course is not only more challenging, it is esthetically more pleasing. Plus, where else can you tee up your ball and watch a Great Lakes ore boat power effortlessly by? Because of the surge in the Midwest economy, the shipping traffic was up 12% last year.
The course was recently rated as one of the Top 10 U.P. Golf Courses by the Detroit Free Press.
Randy Bonett, Club Professional; Mike Smith, Course Superintendent; Paula Ryan, general manager; Pro Shop 906-632-7812.
Tanglewood Marsh Golf Course
See course review in April/May '96 Michigan Golfer.
Sault Ste. Marie, located near Sherman Park off of 4th Ave. and 24th Street. 18 Holes, 6505 yards, 906-635-0617.
For a new course, The Rock is already steeped in legend. The corporate playground of Tom Monaghan during his high flying days as owner of the Detroit Tigers. He built this hideaway for the leadership of his company. The Domino's legions trekked there to both create and recreate. Sold a couple of years ago for a fraction of its cost, it now attracts other corporate leaders who go there to see or stay in the Tom Monaghan or Sparky Anderson home and play this very special course.
The Rock is considered one of the best get away courses in Michigan.
18 Holes, 6837 yards, slope 142, course rating 74.9, 800-999-6843.
Pictured Rocks Golf Club - Munising
Pictured Rocks just added a back nine this past year and the town has been booking plenty of tee times to show its approval. As one might expect, this course does not have a shortage of trees. This is beautiful country up here and when this course grows in, it will add to that expectation. Dale Ruska is the golf professional attending to the needs of the course and the stockholders who own it.
While in Munising, enjoy the Pictured Rocks Boat Cruises, a 37-mile trip on Lake Superior which takes about three hours.
18 Holes,6149 yards, par 71 906-387-3970.
Terrace Bluff Golf and CC
Terrace Bluff GC is a part of Terrace Bay Resort and Convention Center. Located half way between Escanaba and Gladstone, it is one of the premier courses in the area. There are spectacular views of Lake Michigan from the hotel, convention center and golf course. The course is located on a bluff not far from the hotel. It is fast becoming a very nice golf community, as there are a number of beau tiful homes being built around and near the course. The golf course was purchased in 1977 by Tony Pouliot. Tony and his two sons, Marv and Mike, have continued to build upon the successes of the past. The course, while on a bluff, is fairly flat and cut out of a nice stand of woods. There is little trouble on the course since water hazards and bunkers are at a minimum. The maintenance is excellent. It has a great club house that overlooks Lake Michigan. All in all, it is one of the nicer complexes in the north country. They have some excellent golf packages, some of which include the Chip in Casino in Hannahville.
18 Holes, 6701 yards, 906-428-2343
This nine-hole course is easy on the pocketbook and score. It is a nice place to begin to learn the game.
2 miles West of Escanaba, 9 holes, 3092 yards, 906-786-1565.
Gladstone Golf Club
The Gladstone Golf Course is certainly one of the nicer courses in the north. This city owned course markets itself to the golfing community as the "UP's Finest Test of Golf." It is located on some substantial rolling hills that nudge up to the Days River. Do yourself a favor by stopping by to play this lovely yet challenging course. The second nine was added in 1988.
One mile outside of Gladstone, 18 holes, 6500 yards, 906-428-9646.
Highland Golf Club
Just seven miles west of Escanaba, this 18 hole tract built in 1931, is a pleasant golf course for the locals and does draw some outside traffic. It has a clubhouse with a spectacular view of the course. Mark Briggs, the GM, indicated that the membership has really put the money into the course. The greens and fairways have been upgraded considerably over the past couple of years.
Semi-private, 18 holes, 6237 yards, slope 117, 906-466-7457.
Nahma Resorts Golf Club
This rural nine-hole course is close to Lake Michigan. Course owner, Warren Groleau, also has a hotel in town. 906-644-2486.
Gary Gries, the club pro for 8 years, indicates that play is up at the course. The second nine, built in 1990, has matured well. This is a tight little course with plenty of water on the back nine. It will eat you alive if your game is not on. Of particular note is the par four 435-yard ninth hole.
18 Holes, par 71,5974 yards,906-786-4430.
This is a nine hole course, just off County Road 183. 906-847-3871.
Chocolay Downs held the official opening of their new nine September 19, 1995. The date was held back a tad because of an unseasonably cold May. However, Mother Nature came right back and gave the area five straight days of 95 degree plus days in late summer. The original nine opened up three years ago and was an immediate hit to an area that had few golf courses.
Designed by Bruce Matthews of Design 3, the Downs is the centerpiece of a condo and private home community. Joe Gibbs, the owner of the project, said that five condos have been sold and another three are on the drawing board. In addition, they have sold three home sites. The home sites promise to be a little unusual in that a number of the homes being built on them are "famous homes." For example, Joe's house is a replication of Abraham Lincoln's home in Spring field, Illinois.
The early reviews indicate that the community is well satisfied with the efforts of Gibbs et al. Previously, the course's hook was that it had the world's largest green, some 29,000 feet. Now they can pride themselves on having a great 18-hole tract that is attracting its share of Marquette golfers as well as those that venture across the Bridge. 906-249-3111.
Frank Guastella and Bill Roberts have a lot of time to think about their new venture as they take one of those 7-8 hour rides from Detroit to visit their new course in Gwinn. Frank, recently of Lockmoor, is the 154th Master-rated PGA professional in the country. Bill has Lockmoor roots as well, and recently distinguished himself as the 1992 president of the National Golf Course Superintendents Association.
Their venture is probably one of the more exciting ones taking place in Michigan. Originally, they purchased the former K.I. Sawyer golf course and opened it as "The oldest New Golf Course in the U.P." aka, Red Fox Run Golf Course. The course offers the golfer a full range of amenities-pro shop, driving range and lessons-to go with the 18-hole championship course. Their main focus last year was to upgrade the overall maintenance. They have done that with a lot of tender loving care, some added flowers and the other things that a former president of a golf course superintendents' association would do to a course. Helping out Bill in this regard is the new course superintendent, Dave Syrja.
According to Roberts, the community has responded very well to their efforts. In addition, they are starting to pick up some play from down state and Wisconsin.
However, an additional story is starting to unfold. Roberts and Guastella have be come involved with the community by helping to find out additional ways in which to use this enormous former military complex. They would like to expand their focus to include using the facilities as a fitness center. First of all, there is a tremendous amount of housing available for future clients. Secondly, they have an indoor pool, three gymnasiums, four softball courts and a par course to offer the public.
They feel they can move into the snowmobile market in the winter and then into more of a total fitness theme in the late spring and summer. They would target not only lower Michigan, but Wisconsin and Illinois as well. (Chicago is closer to Gwinn than Detroit.) That certainly was one idea that they had a lot of time to think about on their various trips north.
This year they plan on up-grading their tee areas.
Red Fox Run is located about 10 miles from Marquette and 60 miles from Munis ing. 906-346-7010.
Marquette G & CC
Marquette G & CC is one of the few pure private clubs in the north. Marc Gilmore, who mentored under Fred Mueller of Crystal Downs, is the club professional.
The original nine was built in 1967 with the back nine added in 1976. The back of fers the golfer a little better look and, be cause of its double row of irrigation, is in much better shape than the front. The 12th is their signature hole. It has an excellent driving range and a clubhouse that has an exciting panoramic look. John State is a first year pro out of Wisconsin.
18 Holes, 6596 yards, 906-485-1435.
Indian Lake G & CC
This is a wonderful golf course in a spectacular setting. Built in 1929, she has aged gracefully. The course nudges up to its namesake, Indian Lake, a majestic body of water near Manistique.
There is talk of another nine, but new manager Rob Ryan seems to think it is still a few years away.