Michigan Golfer ON-LINE

Islands, Peninsulas, Bridges, Lakes and Golf

by Art McCafferty

For those venturing north to Mackinac Island, Drummond Island or the Sault, the first stop usually is Mackinaw City. However before drawing up summer plans, note that things have changed substantially at what used to be just the "launching port" for up north golf. This year, as reviewed in the June issue of the MG, the Mackinaw Club has opened up. Just a couple of miles outside of Mackinaw City, this Jerry Matthews-designed course is a new stop for those who are starting to make Mackinaw City a destination.

In addition to the fine course, Mackinaw City will unveil its new Courtyards complex area this summer. The Courtyards, a project of Bill Shepler, will contain over 40 shops, a five-theater complex, a butterfly house, an optical illusion place called Mirror Maze, the Daily Planet (an arcade), five restaurants, an evening laser show and strolling street performers. In 1998, a Branson-style theater will open as well.

For information on the Mackinaw Club, visit their Website at www.webgolfer.com/mackinawclub or call 616-436-4955.

For those going to Mackinac Island, two renowned courses await you -- The Jewel and Wawashkamo Golf Club.

The Jewel

The Grand Hotel's Tea for Two package which gives you the choice of a Tee Time or Time for Tea, seems to capture the essence of its product very well.

Three years ago Dan Musser II and architect extraordinaire, Jerry Matthews, unveiled the crowning portion of the Jewel, The Woods back nine.

The original Jewel, renovated in 1987 by Jerry Matthews, offers spectacular vistas of the Grand Hotel and all of the Island's commercial surroundings. The Woods offers the different look of woods, formidable bunkers and some appreciated length. At the turn, golfers are taken to the 10th tee by a horse-drawn taxi.

Mark Kelbel, golf professional at the Jewel, has seen a number of changes since he came to the Grand five years ago; one being the amount of play. "We have about 100 days in our season and we are starting to get a lot of play. We will get in anywhere from 20 to 25 thousand rounds this summer. The golf course has strengthened our convention business and added a lot of room nights to the Grand. For those guests who have decided not to bring their clubs, we have a set of Powerbilt Grand Slams for $8 rental charge."

Mark is part of a great Michigan golf family: his father was a golf professional, his brother Ed is the pro at The Emerald, and younger brother Pete is the pro at Walloon Lake CC.

Rates are $75 for non-hotel guests and $65 for guests. Not only do you get to play 18 beautiful holes in the shadow of one of the world's great summer hotels, but you get a cart and a carriage ride at the turn.

Contact Mark at 906-847-3331 for hotel reservations, contact 1-800-33-GRAND.

Wawashkamo Golf Club

Wawashkamo Golf Club, listed by Golf Magazine as one of the top 10 nine-hole courses in the world, is also the first nine-hole course designated as a Historic Golf Landmark by Golf Digest. The course was built in 1898 by U.S. Open Champion and Scotsman, Alex Smith. Wawashkamo was named after an utterance of Chippewa Chief Eagle Eye, who observed that the golfers on the course "wa-wash-kamo" walk a crooked path. Well, that part hasn't changed and really not much else at the course has changed either.

The course is still cut by horse-drawn mowers, much of the watering system comes from the clouds that pass by the island, and the course still allows golfers the opportunity to use sand tees. The rough is rough, and wayward shots will have you reaching into your bag for a new ball. The postage-sized greens demand accurate approaches, not any different from decades past. For those who want to step back in time, you can rent hickory-shaft clubs and buy gutta-percha balls. Larry Grow, the 13 year veteran manager of the course, said about 10 people a week have taken up the offer.

Larry has done considerable research on early golf equipment. Some trips have taken him to Scotland. In fact, Larry has started up a sister city golf exchange with the Scottish community with the oldest golf course in the world, Mussleburg. Mussleburg, which saw the likes of Mary Queen of Scots play the course before she lost her head, is also going through restoration. The course was built in 1467, or 431 years before Wawashkamo. Stan McRobbie, greens keeper at Mussleburg, spent last summer at Wawashkamo Golf Club. Larry Grow and the club's membership have to be commended for transferring this sleepy little golf course into a historically must-golf destination.

For information call Larry at 906-847-3871. You can play the course for $22.

For those who choose to bypass the Island heading north, plenty of golf in Sault Ste. Marie awaits you.

Last year, Tanglewood Marsh opened and Sault Ste. Marie CC was renovated. Hessel Ridge opened this year, and Bay Mills is scheduled to open next year. Add to these the excellent Kincheloe Memorial at Kinross, The Rock at Woodmoor and Munuscong Golf Club, and you have some solid golf in the Upper Peninsula. Dan Donarski, director of the convention and tourism bureau and an avid golfer, is obviously happy about this trend.

Sault Ste. Marie Country Club

The Sault Ste. Marie CC is a member club that not only allows but encourages guest play. Under the leadership of new pro Jim Sipes and GM Paula Ryann, the club is treating their guests more like, well -- guests. They have opened a new grill to accommodate the public, totally revamped and revitalized their pro shop, and made their 'members only' signage a little softer in tone.

Recently renovated by Jerry Matthews, the course provides an excellent test of golf. Prior to a round you can visit their 15-station practice range or roll a few on their putting green. Your wait for the tee box could also provide you with a view of a freighter or long boat entering Lake Nicolete on its way to Lake Huron. You should expect a fast round, which will leave ample time to check out the Locks or win enough money from nearby Kewadin Casino to buy those new irons.

The course annually hosts the Lock City Open. Held in late June, the Open just celebrated its 25th year. Sipes wants to continue to build on this proud tradition and make it the premier event in the Upper Peninsula.

For further information contact the club at 906-632-7812. Bay Mills

Bay Mills, a new Mike Husby course, will be open for play in 1998. However, with a good growing season, nine of the holes could be ready for play this fall. The Bay Mills Casino and Hotel is a first-rate destination. Located in Brimley, Bay Mills will also be adding a marina to its hotel, casino and golf course complex.

Jeff Parker, Bay Mills Tribal Chairman, is excited about the course and what it will mean to their community.

In 1998 call 906-248-3617.

Tanglewood Marsh

They didn't name this course after a marsh for nothing. Tanglewood Marsh definitely offers golfers a different looking golf course. The marsh comes in to play on 17 of its 18 holes. It will definitely offer golfers an opportunity to use all of the clubs in their bag. In fact, on one par five you will most likely select an iron to use off of the tee.

Golfers played about 15,000 rounds on the course last year and the club hopes to do as good or better this year. They have had a number of interesting promotions. One that has yielded good value is their link-up with the Kewadin Casino. If a golfer plays at Tanglewood, they get a coupon good for $5 at the casino.

Al Hellow, owner of Tanglewood Marsh, wants to tame the course a bit this year. In addition, he hopes to open a new pro shop this fall.

This year's rates are $18 per round, plus cart. Tanglewood Marsh is located just outside Sault Ste. Marie at Sherman Park. For tee times call 906-635-0617.

Hessel Ridge Golf Course

Hessel Ridge is another great course from Jeff Gorney. Gorney was also the architect for Little Traverse Bay, Sparrow Hawk, Fox Run CC, Hills' Heart of the Lakes, and the new Dream that just opened.

Owned by Dan Hitchens, Hessel Ridge is absolutely a perfect course for new golfers, vacation golfers or veteran golfers that are tired of getting beat up by signature courses. The course offers some modest rolling terrain and fairways that are wide and inviting. The traps are few and far between and there is water on only two of the holes, the 9th and 18th. The 18th is a beautiful par five, with a carry over the water onto the green. It is a beautiful finish to a beautiful course.

The fairways are lined with the striking white bark of a birch forest and are flawless for such a new course. Course superintendent, Jason Hobson, attributes the course's excellent condition to the sandy soil that is so prevalent. However, there are some caches of rocks and boulders around the course. These rock outcroppings are similar to the ones you will find at The Jewel and the nearby private club, Les Cheneaux, which is celebrating its first 100 years.

Hessel Ridge is located near the Les Cheneaux Islands in Lake Huron. Long a boating haven, the golf course will bring additional recreation to the area. There are a number of bed and breakfasts in the area, plus a Comfort Inn in nearby Cedarville. Hessel Ridge will provide an additional course to play for those golfers who are heading for The Rock on Drummond Island.

Hessel Ridge is located north of Highway-134 at Hessel. It is across from the Hessel airport and just south of the Kewadin Casino. The back nine is scheduled to open in early July, but call 906-484-2107 for updated information.

Kincheloe Memorial -- Kinross

John Andrew is the new professional at Kincheloe. He used to work for Sandy Mily at Fox Hills CC in southeast Michigan. John has freshened up the clubhouse, is hiring a new superintendent, and is launching a new Kewadin Casino Classic that will offer $11,500 in prize money.

This former U.S. Air Force golf course, at one time had been voted the Upper Peninsula's Most Beautiful Golf Course. The rates are reasonable and the golf superb.

For information call 906-495-5706.

Munoscong Golf Club -- Pickford

Jim Christiansen, proprietor of Munoscong, says that his rounds are up 40% since they added their new nine two years ago, most of the traffic is from Canada. One of the features of the golf course was that the members were responsible for designing the new nine. Golfers are generally pleased with the course, however, some would like a little less water.

Call for a tee time at 906-647-9812.

The Rock at Woodmoor

The Rock has long been one of the celebrated courses in the Midwest. It is a spectacular course in a setting that is far from the madding crowd. Harry Bowers, course architect who mentored with Robert Trent Jones, feels it is the greatest course he has designed. Currently designing Inkster Valley after opening up Pierce Lake in Chelsea last year, Bowers had a chance to reflect on the Herculean task of building The Rock. "People do not realize what an undertaking that was. There is no way you could build that course with the same amount of money. It could be double the cost today. All of that blasting, the tremendous amounts of dirt we had to bring in and then seeding it all in one year, was such an awesome task that I am still amazed at what we did. Those Drummond Island people were great workers."

Dan Sirrine, Woodmoor general manager, is bullish about the course, but he also wants the golfing public to know about the new amenities. Woodmoor is sporting a new Sporting Clay Course called "The Cedars." It was designed by Brian Bilinski, a noted European clay course designer. Also new is their Bayside Dining Room which specializes in American cooking by the New England Culinary Institute. Each summer the Institute sends their students to spend a season at Woodmoor. It is one of the great dining pleasures north of the Bridge.

Todd Gary, the new golf professional, is a graduate of Ferris State University's PGA golf management school.

Woodmoor is an hour from the Bridge. This year, golfers could stop by nearby Hessel and play the Hessel Ridge course on the way to Woodmoor. These two courses complement each other tremendously.

For further information, visit their Web page at www.drummondisland.com or call 1-800-999-6343.

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