by Kelly Hill
Land had been allotted and plans had already been drawn, so when the golf management at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville realized that it was receiving more requests for tee times than it could accommodate, another nine holes were constructed and are now set to open for play May 15.
The newest nine holes at Crystal Mountain will make the Mountain Ridge an 18-hole championship layout and brings the number of golf holes at the resort to 36.
"We only built nine of the holes on the Mountain Ridge course originally, with the thought of building another nine at a later date," said Crystal Mountain golf pro Brad Dean. "The new holes had already been drawn out on paper and in the fall of 1996 we looked at our business and decided to finish that golf course."
While the Betsie Valley Course is the resort's other 18-hole track, the Mountain Ridge course, including this newest nine, was designed by Ann Arbor golf course architect Bill Newcomb. "We needed more room for all of the tee time requests we were getting," Dean said. "Bill Newcomb had already drawn up the plans for the other nine but he still had to come up here and work out some minor changes."
The ordinary day-to-day operations of the 27 previous holes at Crystal Mountain told the resort's golf management that it needed at least another nine holes on which to accommodate its requests for play. "Being in the clubhouse everyday told us we needed more room for tee times," Dean said. "The Mountain Ridge is our upscale course. We had three nines at three different levels of difficulty of play and we needed to finish the Mountain Ridge to make it our premiere course, and that is exactly what we have done."
The Mountain Ridge, which will feature four sets of tees, is expected to play 7,007 yards from the championship tees. Most of the resort's golfing visitors are expected to play from the white tees, which are expected to play 6,258 yards. "That is a great distance to play this course from," Dean said. "There are only a few holes with forced carries off the tee and those are relatively short, 110 yards at the most, but when you move to the back tees those carries will get longer and could come into play.
"This course was designed to be very playable," Dean continued. "It is a challenging but fun course to play but it will be very demanding from the back tees."
The Mountain Ridge's final nine holes were completed midway through the 1997 season, which provided ample time for the course to be seeded, and given last fall's relatively late mild temperatures, "the course grew in fantastically," according to Dean. "We decided that we would be able to open it in May."
Crystal Mountain, which will host this year's Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) Women's Senior Amateur Championship, is hoping to attract other tournaments, including perhaps one of the state's major tournaments, to the newly completed Mountain Ridge course. "We are always looking at maybe getting more competitive events here," Dean said. "We do have some events coming up for play on this course, and maybe we can get some of the state events here, but we will need to give the course some time to mature."
While players of the Betsie Valley Course at Crystal Mountain have the option of walking or utilizing a golf car for their rounds, players of the 18-hole Mountain Ridge will be required to use a golf car for play. According to Dean, that requirement will probably become a welcome requisite since the course's layout presents a number of lengthy distances between greens and subsequent tees. "We will require a cart on the Mountain Ridge," Dean noted, "because in a couple of spots, between a green and the next tee it is a rather long way, perhaps like a half-mile ride. Those kinds of distances will make carts mandatory, but players are still welcome to walk the Betsie Valley Course."
Crystal Mountain's newest nine holes, which complete the resort's Mountain Ridge course, are scheduled for a May 15 grand opening. Call 1-800-968-7686.
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