If you’ve talked golf courses with me for more than a few minutes, than it’s very likely that a Michigan golf course has come up in the conversation. I’m not one of the many born and raised Michiganders who has an undeniable pride for the places and things they grew up around. I haven’t been a resident there for more than a decade, but Michigan is the place I was bitten by the golf bug for the 2nd time in my life. It’s where my passion turned from competing in the sport to an overwhelming appreciation for its architecture, history, and traditions.
I got my first broadcasting job out of college in Detroit almost exactly 18 years ago. My six years on the radio and TV there provided me an endless amount of opportunities to participate and enjoy the golf wealthy lands in the state shaped like a mitten, but I had no idea how spoiled I was.
Since moving to Phoenix nearly 12 years ago, I have made it back nearly every summer for vacation with the exception of 2006 (due to the birth of my first child). Each time I make an effort to see a course I haven’t played, because there are so many good ones. I could continue this tradition for the rest of my life and still not come close to seeing them all.
This year’s trip was full of nostalgia as I made it back to some old favorites beginning with a newer 27 hole property about 40 miles North of Detroit called Boulder Pointe Golf and Banquet Center in Oxford. This place holds some sentimentality for me as it was the one of the first courses I got to see prior to its completion and grand opening in 2000. It’s also a fantastic property for events, a few of which I remember fondly.
Boulder Pointe is set on 1825 rolling acres and is surrounded by a couple large man made lakes along with some beautiful new homes. Since it’s opening it has maintained the grounds in spectacular fashion and this summer’s conditions were as good as I remember them being 10 years ago when I was last there. The fairways and greens are on level with most top line private clubs, only you won’t find anything snooty or elitist here. On top of how good this place is, it’s usually somewhere between reasonably priced and a screaming deal and well worth the drive from anywhere in the Detroit metropolitan area.
After enjoying the old stomping grounds, it was time to head up North (feel free to go to the back of your left hand now and trace from around the crack between your thumb and pointer finger to the nail on your ring finger) to Boyne Highlands in lovely Harbor Springs.
You may recall reading about Boyne Highlands about a year ago here on golfmix. My kids also remembered, and couldn’t wait to get back. The resort once again did not disappoint as we began our stay taking the chair lift up to the top of the ski slopes for a fantastic panoramic view of the Northern Michigan landscape and the beautiful resort property. If you look to the left of the hotel above, you’ll see the water hazard that surrounds the 18th green on The Heather course, the oldest of four championship tracks on the property, and the one I’d play with my father in law the following morning.
While we would enjoy a great round of golf, my family took advantage of the tremendous grounds and activities at the resort including an exhilarating dual zip line which spans hundreds of yards along the ski slopes and down towards the hotel.
The 1966 Robert Trent Jones designed Heather course is a stout challenge. Be sure not to get fooled by the gentle start as I was even able to get a birdie on the first and a sandy par on the second before reality set in.
The other three courses on the property are the Ross, which is an homage to my personal favorite architect Donald Ross and his most famous hole designs from around the world, the Moor which is known as the most challenging of the courses and offers visitors the opportunity to walk with a caddy, and the Arthur Hills course which you may recognize from the Golfchannel’s Big Break X.
The Boyne Golf family offers much more beyond the great property at the Highlands, about 30 miles South in Boyne Falls you can stay and play the very solid Alpine and Monument courses at Boyne Mountain Resort. For those of you like to golf and fish, the Hidden River Golf & Casting Club in a town called Brutus is an ideal summer destination.
Crooked Tree Golf Club in Petoskey has been one of my favorites to play up North, and it got even better with a recent redesign. But just down the street from there is Boyne’s crown jewel, at the Bay Harbor Golf Club.
At Bay Harbor there are 3 nine hole courses that are all very distinctive. We played my two favorites beginning with the Preserve course which ends with a fantastic par 3 seen above and led us to the most picturesque of the three nines, the Links course set along the banks of gorgeous Little Traverse Bay.
You can certainly get distracted by the scenery on the Links course, but fortunately for me those views kept me from completely losing my mind as I fought the shanks, chili dips and other assorted maladies along the way.
Bay Harbor’s price tag may keep some of you away, but those willing to go big will more than likely get their money’s worth here.
It wasn’t intentional, but I guess I made it to three varying levels of courses on this trip beginning with the upscale daily fee Boulder Pointe, followed by the Boyne Highlands resort and finally exclusive Bay Harbor. The common thread I keep finding when I explore Michigan golf? No matter what level you’re looking for, you won’t have to look hard to find it.