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Golf Resorts in Transitional Period
By Mike Terrell

Photo
Mike Terrell

As the 2000 golf season quickly winds down across the state, northern Michigan golf resorts have the added task of getting ready for the "white season."

While most golf courses go into a state of hibernation during the winter months, northern Michigan golf resorts are busy gearing up for the "white" season.

Well known golf resorts like Shanty Creek, Boyne Mountain and Highlands, Treetops/Sylvan Resort, Crystal Mountain and The Otsego Club make the switch from operating multiple golf courses to downhill and cross-country skiing. Garland, Marsh Ridge, Grand Traverse Resort and the UP's Drummond Island Resort switch from golf Mecca to cross-country paradise.

"It's certainly not a bleak time up here," enthused Barry Godwin Shanty Creek marketing director. "It's an exciting and busy time getting ready for the coming winter and putting the golf courses to bed. A lot of our people work in both areas."

Shanty Creek operates four golf courses, two downhill skiing areas and grooms about 40 kilometers of cross-country trails. Normally Mother Nature allows about a month between the end of the busy golf season and the start of the winter activities, but not always.

"The last three winters we've had plenty of time to make the change over in a very orderly fashion," explained Godwin. "But, there were a few years in the mid-90's that didn't allow much time. We were playing golf one week and skiing the next. That puts a real strain on your personnel."

It may be a tough test for personnel, who are blowing out irrigation lines, closing down golf courses and getting snowmaking equipment and chairlifts ready for the upcoming season, but some like a quick transition.

"We hope for an early winter and an early spring," said Sylvan's longtime director of skiing Pat Samalik. "It's less downtime for the resort, and allows us to keep more employees working year-round."

Sylvan operates four golf courses, a downhill skiing area and also grooms several miles of cross-country trails on its hilly Treetops golf course terrain.

"The majority of our pro shop employees switch to the ski rental operations and most of our golf professionals help run Boyne Country Sports in the winter," said Jason DeWeerd, director of golf operations for the Country Club of Boyne and retail operations manager for Boyne Country Sports during the winter months. "A lot of our golf course maintenance people switch over to snowmaking, lift and grooming operations during the winter."

Boyne USA operates nine golf courses, two downhill ski areas and grooms miles of cross-country trails at three locations...the Mountain, Highlands and Bay Harbor.

"Sometimes I wonder what day it is," laughed Crystal Mountain spokeswoman Joan O'Neill. "We seem to always be looking ahead and marketing the next season. It's hard to enjoy the season we're in.

"A lot of our personnel also work full time and make the transition from one season to the next. Right now we're still mowing golf courses, but they are also mowing the ski hills getting ready for that first big snowfall."

Crystal Mountain operates two golf courses, a downhill ski area and grooms 30-some kilometers of cross-country trails for its guests.

In northern Michigan, golf and skiing may have more in common than you thought. You may end up taking golf and ski lessons from the same person...different seasons of course. And, probably the same guy helping you on the lift may have put your clubs on the cart this past summer.


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