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Beaver Island Golf
By Art McCafferty

Photo
John Works, owner of Beaver Island GC.

Okay, I realize few of you got up this morning and said, "Hey, let's play Beaver Island GC. In fact, of the millions of Michigan golf rounds each year, only about 5,000 of them are at Beaver Island. For openers, it is a little tough to get to. You have to take the Beaver Island Ferry at Charlevoix. The cost is $37 round trip and the departures to the Island are usually twice a day. Our ferry took off at 8:30 and arrived two hours later. Our return was at 5:30 with our arrival at Charlevoix at 7:40. You can stay overnight, with rates from $65-115.

John Works bought Beaver Island GC in 1978. The course was completed in 1963, designed by Matt Melville and billed as a wee bit of Scotland on the Emerald Isle. Works bought it for $18,000 from a doctor who sold it for taxes. Works had always liked the Island, despite catching a head to toe case of poison ivy that put him in the hospital as a 12-year-old camper in 1942. 'My wife and I were looking to buy some land on Lake Michigan and had decided to take a trip around the lake one summer. During our trip I recalled how much I had enjoyed my earlier stay, and we visited the Island. We decided then and there that this was the place where we wanted to put down our roots.

When we met John, he was on his knees trying to repair his irrigation system. With his hands muddy with the task at hand and his clothes ready for a date with a washer, the furthest thing from our minds was that this was a person that had attended four universities and had earned both a JD and a Ph.D.

John left his academic pursuits about 10 years ago to concentrate on the fun side of life. Each year he puts a fair share of money back into the course. The course is definitely a course to play for summer fun. It has its share of challenging holes, but for the most part it is golfer friendly. It has manageable par 3's and 4's with but one par five to encounter. It is a course you will walk, although there are carts available. When we played, the clubhouse door was open and we put our $11 fee into a box on the counter. John was out on the course and the locals are honest. The course is three miles from the ferry and usually you can get transportation out there. I say usually, as the Sunday we were there we had to have one of the ferry workers take us out. John drove us back and we had the opportunity to pound a few Buds with him as he regaled us with stories of Beaver Island life. John has 200 acres of land and his current nine hole course only takes up about 60 of them. An 18-hole course is not in the foreseeable future, but it might be something his son takes on later.

Dave Broder, noted national syndicated columnist, had this to say about Beaver Island in a recent article. "The animals are in revolt. They are trying their damndest to drive the human population away. From the smallest creatures on up‹the thieving chipmunk who tried to swipe a marshmallow before my granddaughter could toast it over the fire, and the rabbits who nudge your golf ball into the rough on the challenging Beaver Island links, home of the annual Poison Ivy Best Ball Tournament‹it was clear that the wildlife had caucused and devised a game plan for taking over."

Beaver Island is definitely a step back in time. As I set in the bow of the Island Beaver finishing up this story, the southern part of the island is slipping by. There is a magnificent severe clear sky above us and we are plying one of the greatest lakes in the world. What a day!


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