Michigan Golfer ON-LINE

Fantastic Fall Golf
By Terry Jacoby

Golfers love to play travel agent.

It starts with a simple plan. All of a sudden, there are maps all over the floor. While one person jumps on-line and heads to a few golf Internet sites, another one grabs a calculator to add up prices and look for the best bargains.

What started out as a weekend of golf has turned into a perfectly timed, most-affordable golf extravaganza. You set the alarm clock for 6 a.m. You get on I-75 and head north. You have a tee time for The Fortress in Frankenmuth. Play 18 holes, grab some chicken and fudge to-go and are back on the highway by 2 p.m. Pull into Treetops at around 5 p.m. Of course, you are there just in time for your 5:30 tee time on the Rick Smith Signature course.

And this is just the first day.

Whatever your destination, there are courses to play on the way up - and the way back. And if you're heading to Gaylord, Traverse City, Cadillac, Mt. Pleasant, Charlevoix, Grand Rapids or another golf-rich community in Michigan, your choices are plentiful and appetizing.

Putting together that perfect trip is almost as fun as playing. And what better time to throw the clubs and suitcase in the trunk than in the fall. The weather is still nice.

The scenery breathtaking.

And the golf spectacular.

Bargains and deals are on the tee. Grab a club and let's see what's out there.

The Mecca

California has a 17-mile drive and Palm Springs. South Carolina has Myrtle Beach. And Michigan has Gaylord.

One of the premier golf destinations in the U.S., the Gaylord area tees up 22 courses that are not only challenging but scenic treasures. Rolling fairways cutting through thick forests and around sparkling lakes have helped make Gaylord a must-stop on a golfer's scorecard.

Let's start at the top - Treetops Sylvan Resort. One of Northern Michigan's best resorts, Treetops has it all. First-class lodging. Great food. Four championship golf courses that can play with any in the state. And some awesome packages.

There are several to choose from. Here is a great one: Play the Jones Masterpiece, Fazio Premier, Smith Signature and Threetops (a wonderful par-3 course) and stay two nights for just $200 from Oct. 3 to close (Sunday-Wednesday). This package is $310 during the golf season.

Give Treetops a call (888-TREETOPS) or check them out on-line (treetops.com).

Another big-time player in the Gaylord area is Garland - a first-rate resort that is perfect for a fall golf-getaway. Four magnificent courses--Fountains, Swampfire, Monarch and Reflections--give golfers every challenge imaginable.

The Room & Golf Package is a great place to start. It features unlimited golf on the day of arrival through the day of departure and dining. Prices start at $199 per person.

Give Garland a call (877-4GARLAND) and ask them for other fall specials.

Elk Ridge, located east of Gaylord in Atlanta, is among the top five courses in the state on many people's list. Designed by Jerry Mathews, Elk Ridge has great prices in the fall. From Sept. 13-Oct. 3, rates are $50 Monday-Thursday and $60 on the weekend. After Oct. 3, you can play Elk Ridge for $50 anytime during the week.

The Natural is another popular Gaylord course. Another Jerry Mathews creation, The Natural, is known for its scenic wetlands and abundance of wildlife - and well-kept golf course. Fall rates (Sept. 8-Sept 30) start at $30 during the week and $55 on the weekends for 18 holes and a cart.

The Golf Getaway Package prices (Sept. 7-30) start at $60 Sunday-Thursday and $85 on Friday and Saturday. After Oct. 1, rates are $60 all week. This package requires a two-night stay.

Other Gaylord highlights include: Marsh Ridge (517-732-6794) has an excellent resort facility, complete with lodging, pool and a wonderful golf course.

Hidden Valley (517-732-4653) also offers outstanding packages. The 54-hole blowout special, which includes two nights lodging, rounds of golf at The Loon, The Lake, Black Bear and The Classic can be yours for $165 during the week and $314 on the weekend starting in September. In October, the price is $165 during the week and on weekends.

Other Gaylord gems include Michawye Hills, Lakes of the North, Fox Run and Gaylord Country Club.

For a Gaylord golf planner, call (800) 345-8621.

For longer or roomier stays, golfers should consult Resort One, a cottage and chalet reservation service at 1-800-557-3767.

Grand packages

Looking for a one-stop golf paradise as well as a first-class resort? Look no further than the Grand Traverse Resort in Traverse City. A night in the 17-story glass tower will not soon be forgotten. Neither will a round of golf on one of the three outstanding courses. From The Bear, designed by Jack Nicklaus, to The Wolverine, designed by Gary Player, to the popular Spruce Run, Grand Traverse has it all under one roof. And what better time to experience Grand Traverse than in the fall.

The Wolverine opened earlier this year to positive reviews and is "user friendly," according to GTR's J. Mike DeAgostino. "It has four sets of tees with fewer forced carries than The Bear. "He (Player) wanted to create a playable, versatile and enjoyable golf course." Mission accomplished. And it's very playable - and affordable - in the fall. The Mid-Week package includes two nights lodging, breakfast each day, unlimited golf on Spruce Run, bucket of range balls each day, welcome cocktail and a one-hour golf clinic conducted by the Jim McLean Golf Schools. Fall rates, which begin Aug. 29, start at $319 per person (based on double occupancy). A three-night Mid-Week package starts at $457. The Championship Weekend package (two nights lodging, 18 holes on Spruce Run, bucket of range balls, cocktail and one-hour clinic) starts at $309 after Aug. 29. The three-night version starts at $472 per person. There is a $30 surcharge to play the other two courses. The resort also includes a new 11,000 square-foot spa and new retail stores.

Call (800) 748-0303.

Traverse City Fun

It might be one of Michigan's summer hot spots, but Traverse City can rock with the best of them in the fall. With all of those first-rate golf courses in the area, Traverse City is a great golfing destination--spring, summer AND fall. Crystal Mountain is only a short drive south of Traverse City and is worth the drive. With two 18-hole golf courses, the Betsie Valley and the newer Mountain Ridge, Crystal Mountain has raised the roof. They also feature a 10-acre practice facility. From Sept. 7-Sept. 26, the Betsie Valley is $36 and Mountain Ridge $55. The True Grit package starts at $141 and includes lodging, unlimited golf, breakfast and dinner. The Classic, which starts at $116, features lodging, 18 holes of golf, breakfast and dinner.

For more information, call (800) 968-4676.

North of Traverse City is Shanty Creek in Bellaire which offers several excellent golf deals. The Three Days of Golf is $289 after Sept. 30 and features 18 holes per-day at the Summit or Schuss Mountain Golf Clubs, two nights lodging, a dinner, two breakfasts and unlimited range balls.

For more information, call (800) 678-4111.

The Waterfront Hotel in Traverse City offers two great deals with High Pointe Golf Club. After Labor Day, the fall Midweek Threes (three nights lodging, three rounds of golf and free range balls) is $229. The Fall Basic Twos (two nights lodging, two rounds of golf and free range balls) is $149 during the week and $199 on weekends. If you're looking for great scenery AND great golf, check out A-Ga-Ming Golf Club. A chip shot north of Traverse City, A-Ga-Ming offers some spectacular views of Torch Lake. As well as 18 challenging holes. Starting Sept. 27, a two-bedroom condo (sleeps four) and a round of golf starts at just $60 per person. Three-bedroom condos and cottages also are available.

For more information, call (800) 678-0122.

Other courses in the TC region recommended for fall golf inclusions are The King's Challenge, Matheson Greens and The Leelanau Club at Bahle Farms.

Boyne and then some

You can't discuss golf in Michigan without talking Boyne. A Mecca all on its own, Boyne features four 18-hole championship courses at Boyne Highlands and two 18-hole courses at Boyne Mountain. Take your choice: The Donald Ross Memorial Course, the Robert Trent Jones Heather course, the Alpine course or the newest Arthur Hills masterpiece. You can't go wrong. And there are some attractive packages to choose from. Fall rates begin Aug. 29 and winter rates start Oct. 4. Total golf packages start at $117 and golf and lodging packages start at $102.

Check them out on-line at boyne.com or call (800) GO-BOYNE.

And another great place to check out courses in Northwest Michigan is Boyne Country's web site at boynecounty.com.

Also look into Hidden River Golf Club in Brutus, 13 miles north of Petoskey. Fall rates start Sept. 30 and you get 30 percent off 18 holes during the week and 40 percent off on weekends. Call (888) 935-1001. On the bargain side, golfers should slide into Chestnut Valley, in between Hidden River and Boyne Highlands, for some spectacular autumn scenery and a solid layout. Call 1-877-284-3688.

The Charlevoix area has 14 courses, including standouts Dunmaglas, Belvedere GC and Charlevoix Country Club, a well-maintained private course with hotel package access. Look into the packages at the Edgewater Inn. Edgewater offers a luxury suite and 18 holes on either Dunmaglas or the Charlevoix Country Club starting at $75. Call Edgewater at (800) 748-0424. The Weathervane Terrace Hotel also offers packages. Call (800) 552-0025. And there is nothing wrong with just playing a round at Dunmaglas, ranked no. 1 by Golf Digest in 1997 as a new public golf course. Its fall rates begin Sept. 20. Play 18 holes with a cart for $60. Twilight rates (after 2 p.m.) start at $40. The course, ably managed by American Golf Corp., provides some of best fall vistas in northern Michigan. Call 888-VIP-0909.<

Gail of a course

A Scottish-style course unique to Michigan, The Gailes is located in the upper eastern side of the state in Oscoda and is part of the Lakewood Shores Resort. The design captures the true essence of famous seaside courses of Scotland such as St. Andrews, Royal Troon and Carnoustie. The resort itself is also a gem. It sits along the coast of Lake Huron and activities include paddle-wheel boat rides down the Au Sable River.

Call (800) 882-2493 and ask about the 36-hole package and the free Wee Links course for kids.

Center of attention

Great golf doesn't begin Up North. Remember, there are plenty of places to play on the way up north or at more southern locations. The center of the state has plenty to offer, including such standout courses as The Emerald in St. Johns, The Pines at Lake Isabella in Weidman, The Pohlcat and The Riverwood Resort in Mt. Pleasant and St. Ives Golf Club in Stanwood.

Check out the wide variety of courses at: www.mt-pleasant.net/cvb/golf_central. Golf Central Michigan will take care of your accommodations, tee times and throw in a 15-percent value-added discount card for lunch or dinner. Call (888) 436-0001.

... Another good stop on the way Up-North is McGuire's Resort, which has a tough-to-beat package in the Cadillac area. The Golf Cadillac package features seven 18-hole and five nine-hole courses. Rates at McGuire's start at $99 and they will be glad to set you up on other courses. The Cadillac package includes the new Emerald Vale and such notable courses as the El Dorado, the Cadillac Country Club and The Rose. Call McGuire's at (800) 632-7302.

...Midway between Cadillac and Grand Rapids off 131 near Stanwood is St. Ives Golf Club. From Oct. 11-24, you can play 18 holes for $54 during the week and $64 on the weekends. After Oct. 25, rates drop to $42 during the week and $52 on the weekend.

Playing near the Zoo

Kalamazoo residents can look in their backyard for some fine golf courses, including Gull Lake View, southwest Michigan's only golf resort. Several packages will get you on any one of the five courses (Gull Lake View East, Gull Lake View West, Stonehedge North, Stonehedge South and Bedford Valley). Great choices with plenty of variety to choose from. Spend two days and one night and play unlimited golf starting at $105 after Aug. 30. And stay at the Fairway Villas, overlooking the beautiful East Course. The same package for three days and two nights is only $175. After Oct. 4, take advantage of the Fall Color Package where foursomes pay for only three. Gull Lake View is located midway between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, just north of I-94 and only two hours from Detroit. For more information, call (800-432-7971) or check them out at gulllakeview.com

Also check out deals at the Prairies and Lake Doster (616-343-9609).

A seven-iron to the north of Kalamazoo is the Lynx of Allegan, a Charlie Scott design that has several stunning holes ripe for fall color. Play 18 holes during the week for just $33 and on the weekends for $38. Call (616) 694-5969.

In Battle Creek, there's Marywood, a terrific layout now managed by Treadwell Golf. Call 616-968-1168.

Farther to the west is Lake Michigan Hills in Benton Harbor, which drops rates to $32 during the week and $36 on weekends starting Sept. 8.

Courses to remember

Michigan has so many quality courses that it's impossible to list them all. But here are a few other courses and packages worth hitting on:

* The Woodmoor Resort on Drummond Island has some impressive packages at The Rock. From Sept. 6-Sept. 30, the Gourmet Golf Package starts at $108 during the week ($113 weekends) and includes a night's stay at The Lodge, 18 holes of golf (with a free replay) and a $25 nightly dinner credit at Bayside Dining. The Golf Package, which includes a night's stay and golf at The Rock, starts at $85. For more information, call (800) 999-6343.

* The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island serves up its Tea-for-Two package. One night's stay, dinner, breakfast and 18 holes at The Jewel costs $169 per person. For more information, call (517) 349-4600.

* One of the kings of packages is Thunder Bay in Hillman, between Gaylord and Alpena. Thunder Bay has its own excellent course but lets you stay and play elsewhere, including Sunrise Side courses Elk Ridge, Cedar Valley, The Dream and White Pine National. It's best to check on the prices on web at thunderbay.com. Or call (800) 729-9375.

* Frankenmuth is perfect for lunch or dinner and an ideal stop for Metro Detroiters heading north. Play The Fortress and take advantage of their Eat, Sleep and Play packages. You might also want to do a little shopping at Birch Run. Call The Fortress at (800) 863-7999.

And not far from Bay City in Linwood, autumn experts shouldn't ignore the aptly named Maple Leaf GC for some color and fine golf.

* Closer to Detroit, Pheasant Run in Canton, an Arthur Hills design, will drop rates to around $40 for 18 holes; Lake Walden in Howell will be $45 during the week and $50 on weekends; Greystone in Washington will be $45 during the week and $50 on weekends. Oak Ridge in Macomb offers is a winner as is The Hawk in Clinton Township. So you don't have to drive far for falling prices and fall color.

Finally, check out Michigan Golfer's website at www.michigangolfer.com for more information about Grand Rapids and Upper Peninsula golf that were featured in the July and August issues. Almost all of the courses cited offer fall pricing.

Note: Prices and packages are subject to change. Call the course, resort or hotel you are interested to get the latest information.

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