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Michigan's New Courses Part 2

New Nine's:

Carrington Golf Club

by Mike Duff

A golf community built on customer service. Sound familiar, well I think they really mean it. According to Chris Sobieck, golf professional at Carrington, the goal is to offer the golfer the best in golf at affordable rates and serviced by courteous employees. "It sounds trite, but I really want to be a customer service golf club," remarks Sobieck.

Carrington Golf Club is located off South Custer (M-50) in Monroe, 20 minutes from Toledo, 35 minutes from Detroit and 30 minutes from Ann Arbor. The Carrington Golf Club Project includes 167 lots combining single family homes with twin-plex villas and a spectacular 18 hole golf course designed by Brian Huntley.

"Carrington Golf Club was designed to be more of a traditional course, where one can continually experience its charms through its subtleties. The course was designed to be player-friendly, but don't let the appearance deceive you. Every hole has strategic elements to challenge any style of play," states Huntley. I found this to be true. From the tips it measures 6950 and has numerous water hazards on 9 of its holes. The fairways are treed but not narrow and it is designed in such a way that it is a fair test for golfers of any caliber. You have four tee areas to choose from with various green sizes. Most of the greens are protected by traps. Matter of fact, there are lots of pot bunkers. You will find them on nearly every hole which demands some careful club and shot selection. Huntley took careful aim at hiding most of the greens with traps and mounded berms. A good example of this is number 11, a relatively short par 4, 345 yard hole with water on the left and fairway bunkers on both sides of the fairway and in front of the green. A good fairway drive will set you up for a difficult approach shot into this small protected green. Speaking of the greens, they are in great shape and have been taken good care of by the golf course superintendent, Ted Pasko III.

Carrington offers a full range of amenities, pro shop, PGA instruction, USGA handicap service, men's and women's locker rooms, club and shoe rentals and an attractive club house with grill and lounge. It also features a modern practice facility with driving range and chipping and putting greens. Weekday rates go for $42 with cart and $47 on the weekends. Senior rates start at age 55. Carrington is located at 911 St. James Park Ave., Monroe, MI 48161. Call now for tee times, 734-241-0707.

Lake Forest

By Art McCafferty

Lake Forest is a new golf course in southwest Ann Arbor. Cut out of land once served as a dairy farm, first time designer Mark Walley, has put together a nice test of golf over its 6620 yards. With over 50 bunkers and water present on half of its holes, Lake Forest will be a challenge for all golfers. One is struck by the panorama of the golf course as the clubhouse has claimed the high ground on the property. The prevailing wind will definitely come into play, as the tree cover is minimal. Three of the four par 3's are modest in length, with only the backbreaking 233-yard 17th hole to possibly ruin your card. The par 5's have some symmetry to them, as you generally start out with one on the first and 11th hole, and finish with them on holes nine and 18. The 18th is particularly brutal, with 583 yards from the Championship tees and 557 from the back or second tee. Upon first blush, Mark Walley seems to have acquitted himself quite admirably. Mark will also be serving as the General Manager of the course.

Michael Fouty is the Golf Course Superintendent. Michael has been involved with a number of nearby courses, Stonebridge for one. He said that the fescue grass on Lake Forest would beautifully frame the course when it comes up this spring. He indicated that they would only play on the front nine in June and hopes to open the back nine in July.

Brent Veenstra, one of Michigan's top professionals, will be the Director of Instruction for the Lake Forest Golf Academy. Brent, formerly the club professional at Washtenaw Country Club, has been honing his instructional philosophy the past couple of years. Lake Forest will offer Brent the right setting for his golf clinics and seminars. The practice facility features a driving range with targeted greens, a putting area and an area to practice chipping. His assistant will be Diane Paterson, a LPGA professional for the past eight years. They will be sponsoring a number of clinics throughout the summer and fall. The three week-six hour clinics are $95.00.

The clubhouse has been shaped out of the former farmhouse that looked out across the land. They have expanded the facility to make room for the pro shop, dining and a deck area. It is a fine facility and will offer the perfect backdrop, along its magnificent silo, for this new course. Call 734-994-8580.

Links at Lake Erie Golf Club

By Mike Duff

Golfing in Michigan usually means hundreds and hundreds of courses to choose from. Most areas of Michigan are continually opening new courses, weekly if not daily. Monroe County, one of Michigan's southern most counties, has joined the other areas of Michigan and is fast becoming a golf destination. It doesn't have the population density of the surrounding areas of Wayne, Macomb and Oakland to draw from, but that has not stopped the likes of the Links at Lake Erie Golf Club (located near the city of Monroe and not far from the Ohio border) to offer up an exciting and well designed golf facility. The Links is conveniently located just off I-75 at 14727 La Plaisance Rd., Monroe (734-384-1177) across from Horizon Outlet Mall, just a short distance from the shores of Lake Erie. Kevin Wallon, PGA professional calls the Links "a fair but challenging course that should match the playing skills of nearly every type golfer." He beamed with pride when I asked him what the greens were like being such a new course. He quickly let me know that the greens and fairways with their bentgrass texture were some of the best in the county. After playing on them, I would have to agree. Steve Sowatsky, course superintendent, has done an excellent job of preparing the course for its first full season of play.

The "Links" style layout offers a challenging game of golf with undulating fairways and water on 14 of the 18 holes. However, there are no forced carries leaving you in good position for your next shot. Four sets of tees offer yardage options ranging from 5152 to 6535. Not long on length but long on enjoyment. The fairways are open and undulating. There is somewhere between 50-60 sand traps, which really don't come into play unless you hit an errant shot. Nearly all the greens are visible from the fairways, which allows you some straightforward approach shots. There are no hidden tricks to the Links. I think Scott Thacker, course architect, wanted to design a course that was aesthetically beautiful and relatively easy to keep the ball in play, yet still demanding true accuracy from tee to green.

A comprehensive practice facility is available with driving range, chipping and putting greens. A newly appointed clubhouse (due to open in May) with full banquet facilities for up to 200 guests and a full service pro shop are available to serve a variety of golfer needs. Green fees with carts during the week start at $46 and $48 on the weekends. Reduced rates for seniors begin at 60 years of age. They are now offering a golf special through May 31, 18 holes for $28 with cart (before noon).

The Ravines

by Jack Berry

Jim Jeltema is a veteran of the hospitality industry including a stint at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island and he knows that people return to places where they've had fun.

That was in Jeltema's mind when he hired Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay to design a golf course in Saugatuck, one of Michigan's leading tourist communities.

Jeltema said he isn't into golf as a parttime occupation -- he wants a successful operation and the Palmer company's reputation for designing playable courses figured in the decision to hire the legend.

"We want people to play the course, have fun and come back," Jeltema said of The Ravines which is scheduled to open this summer. It is the newest Palmer course in Michigan and the second to open in as many seasons. The King's Challenge opened to raves on the Leelanau Peninsula in 1998.

The Ravines features generous fairways and up to five tee pads so golfers of every handicap can find a comfortable range. From the back, the course stretches 7,105 yards.

While it is fairly flat, there are those ravines and they seem to get bigger the farther you get into the course.

The Ravines will have Global Position Satellite information on all carts for exact yardages and, like its sister Clearbrook, west of the freeway, a full restaurant/clubhouse.

More Sun on the Sunrise Side

By Art McCafferty

Craig Peters, the Director of Golf for the Gailes, is pleased at all the excitement that the new Red Hawk course is bringing to the area. Like many others from the area, he feels that the addition of Red Hawk--designed by Art Hills--will only mean more rounds for The Gailes. Peters visited Red Hawk early on and "was astounded by the type of terrain I found there. It will be quite a course." The Gailes, one of Michigan's superb award-winning courses, will be able to partner up with Red Hawk to offer golfers a very upscale golfing weekend. Craig is also excited about the new course that will be coming on board to complement the two that Lakewood Shores Resort already has. Kevin Aldridge will be the designer and expects it to open in the year 2000 or 2001.

In addition, Craig indicated that they would be building more lodging at the resort. They are selling out in the summer months.

Scott Cassady, Assistant Sales Director for the resort, is excited about the new St. George's Point Homesites that are being built this summer. They have created a peninsula in Cedar Lake and that is where this guarded and gated subdivision will be built. There are 24 lots available in the project and start at 65K.

For Tom Ferguson, Executive Director of the Sunrise Side golf marketing group, it means another fine course to go with The Gailes, Huron Breeze, The Dream, West Branch Country Club, White Pine National, Tawas Creek, Cedar Valley and Green Briar. The Sunrise Side has been slowly adding inventory to its marketing group and is now starting to flex some of it muscle.

For Sheryl Firestone and Andy Hagan, of Holiday Inn Tawas Bay Resort, and Walt Holden of Tawas Super 8 it is a dream come true. Sheryl, Director of Sales, indicated that the Resort has recently promoted Andy to golf package coordinator. This position has been very popular in places like Battle Creek and Gaylord. The Holiday Inn in Tawas is the upscale place in town. It has all the amenities one looks for, plus one of the great views in the Circle Tour. It has a lounge area, where you can quaff down a brew at the end of a round and look out at Lake Huron in all its magnificence. The Inn will also be using a couple of 1983 double-decker buses to run groups out to various golf properties this year. They are ready for your business. Walt Holden, the owner of the new Super 8 in town, is no stranger to putting together golf packages. Says Holden: "Jack Matthias, who originated the Sunrise Side golf marketing group, said I was the best." Walt, now living in Tawas, spent quite a few years working with a property in the Battle Creek area. He worked with the Scott family in packaging their golf courses and did very well. He says his Super 8 will be comparable to a Hampton Inn. The second story will have a view of the Lake Huron and the town's marina. You will need to call them for golf package information, until they get their web page up.

Other lodging facilities that promote golf packages for the Sunrise Side include the Quality Inn in West Branch and Thunder Bay Resort in Hillman. These properties are veterans of the golf package business and will work very hard for your golf dollar.

In assessing some of the other golf course inventory, Jim Ransberger, GM of Tawas Creek and Pine River, indicated that they have added more irrigation, purchased new carts and have continued to upgrade their facilities. Green Briar, of nearby Lupton, is getting increased play on this Jeff Gorney course. Huron Breeze, that Bill Newcomb gem, is really maturing into a spectacular course and is a must stop and finally, Cedar Valley is a real sleeper over in that area.

White Pine National is starting its 6th season this year. Bruce and Clem Wolfrom have received their share of kudos over this exciting layout. Golf Digest gave it a 3 1/2 star rating in Places to Play. White Pine National drew a lot of early attention by its minimalist design. Essentially, they wanted to lessen the environmental impact of the course within its pristine surroundings. Besides the fine championship course, White Pine has an 18-hole putting course, a practice area of some note and a setting that has been certified as a wildlife sanctuary by the Audubon Society. Back in 1991, Bruce and Clem Wolfrom walked their 400 acres and declared, "This land was made for golf." Their early vision has certainly paid off.

Yes, the folks are excited about what is happening on the Sunrise Side and have been very conspicuous at the West Michigan, Midland, Mt. Pleasant and the Lansing golf shows. Not only does the sun continue to shine on the Sunrise Side, it is positively beaming.

For golf package info

Tawas Bay resort

Tawas City Super 8

West Branch Quality Inn

Thunder Bay Resort

New Nine's:

It's a Jungle Out There!

By Art McCafferty

Curtis Wright, owner and architect of the Copper Hills golf complex in Oxford, is opening the final nine holes of golf, the Jungle, this coming June. Wright who has received some rave reviews for the initial two nines, the Marsh and the Hill, feels that the Jungle is the signature course of the three. " I feel this is my best work. Obviously, I learned a lot designing the Marsh and the Hill. I opened up the landing areas on the Jungle quite a bit more. In addition, I also reworked a couple of holes on the other courses." Last year, the first full year of the course, they did a little over 21,000 rounds.

There is a new team this year, with Abe Vinitski as the GM, Andy Dalton as the superintendent and Heidi Wright heading up the marketing area. They not only need to keep the golf course up, but prepare for the new clubhouse that will be constructed this fall. "We have also sold 13 of 16 homesites in the first phase of our real estate development. We have homes on 10 of the sites, anywhere from $320K to a million in value." There are still additional 84 sites to be offered.

Copper Hills placed 11th in the 1998 survey of Golf Digest's rating of America's Best New Upscale Public Courses. Considering the number of new courses that open each year, that is really something.

www.copperhills.com, Oxford, 248-969-9808.

Maple River--New Name
New Attitude

By Art McCafferty

Jack Angott, the new owner of Maple River, formerly Pine Hill in Brutus, has made some massive changes already at the property. He has built a new clubhouse, put in a new restaurant, the Maple River Club and opened up the place year around. On the outside he had Carter Construction come in and move some dirt around as he built new tees and shaped some of the other holes.

Maple River is right next door to one of the North's great new courses, Hidden River. Maple River is the first course you will see as you head north out of Brutus. It has both a regulation 18 and an executive 18.

According to Kelly Angott, Director of Marketing, there is much they will be doing this year. They will be bringing on a staff of teaching professionals and offer a variety of instructional packages, they will be offering family memberships, a full pro shop, provide catering to events in the area and just about anything that their clients will need. Maple River has a new name and a new attitude. Website address: www.maplerivergolf.com

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