From the Editor
Thanks to El Nino, this has been a banner year for golf in the state. For once, it even seemed like Michigan boasted, for a refreshing change, both a spring and a summer golf season. And now it's nearly fall with even more terrific rounds in store. Yes, I've been fortunate to play golf around the country, but I still rank Michigan at the apex for unparalleled golf experiences. Especially in the summer, why bother going anywhere else? As I look back on the past season, it's hard to capture all the highlights. But let me try:
- Visiting Battle Creek's new executive course, Cedar Farms, which so nicely fills the niche for more affordable, shorter, and "learner-oriented" layouts to help grow the game.
- Being impressed by Boulder Creek's "Guest Comment Survey" found on every golf cart at this new course near Grand Rapids. If you want to improve, courses must have the guts to listen and to learn from their customers.
- Watching the Women's NCAA II/III Golf Championship at The Meadows and marveling at the power and fluidity of the these collegiates' games. And too, being stirred by the team spirit and camaraderie of the players.
- Being a guest at the 10th anniversary at Timber Ridge GC and hearing designer Jerry Matthews say how the design pendulum has shifted from woodsy, parkland courses to open, links-type layouts.
- Spending a delightful, sunny day visiting the courses of charming Manistee. With Rick Smith's eagerly awaited Arcadia Bluffs GC on the horizon for next summer, the Manistee area may well become the next "hot spot" for golf in the state. Arcadia Bluffs is in the Bay Harbor-Whistling Straits big leagues for majestic course views.
- Watching the Michigan Amateur at the 25-year-old Heather course at Boyne Highlands and realizing once again what a grand layout it is and how Everett Kircher and Boyne really predated the Michigan golf boom up north.
- Putting on the laser-true greens of Warwick Hills in the annual Buick Open Media Day. No wonder the Tour pros love it there. And as bonus, watching and hearing Steve Elkington hit effortless six-irons to the par-three 17th hole. Swoosh!
- Playing the King's Challenge course near Sugar Loaf and just loving the playability, hole backdrops and beauty of the place. And standing on the tee at its signature par-five 8th hole, I swore I was playing golf in the Smokey Mountains of Asheville. But one advisory: that fescue rough needs to be cut back wider from the fairway.
- Sneaking in a delightful twilight round at Traverse City G & CC where superintendent Steve Hammon has this traditional, member-friendly layout in fine fiddle.
- Playing nine holes with Crystal Mountain's affable President Jim MacInnes and recognizing that it's hard-working, customer-centered entrepreneurs like Jim and Chris MacInnes who make the real difference for successful resort operations.
- And speaking of Crystal Mountain, I must compliment teaching pro Scott Wilson for imparting the best golf tip of the year. To practice acceleration on short putts, line up 4 or 5 balls in a row, 6 inches apart, and starting two feet from the cup. And then try to putt the balls in the cup without touching the balls behind. Presto! Instant acceleration. Did Tom Watson pick up this nifty drill from Wilson?
- Catching a hole with LPGA's sensational Se Ri Pak at the Olds Classic. Rock-solid swing and ice-water in her veins.
- Enjoying a one-hour clinic with FOAC defending champion Gil Morgan, hot off his Senior Players victory (which will do wonders for one's disposition.) The down-home, quiet Morgan is a just an exquisite ball-striker who lets his clubs do all the talking.
- And as for the Senior event in GR, it was great news for the Jaycees to land such an ideal new title sponsor in Foremost Insurance, ensuring (no pun intended) the event for years to come.
- Visiting the Ray Hearn-designed Island Hills GC in Centerville set to open next spring. Fast-rising Hearn has a winner in the south-central part of the state, one of the few areas void of quality, destination courses. No more.
- Appreciating the efforts of volunteers such as Ann Zoellner and her committee who successfully helped to organize the Jamie Hale Memorial Golf Classic, raising thousands of dollars in scholarships.
- Relishing this little zinger for the Saturday morning Nassau: "If you're still away, then it ain't a gimme!"
See you next year!
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