The Great (Michigan) Escape
By: Joe Hall
Tee Times Publisher
Boyne Golf Experience Provides Unique Golf Experience
Because there are so many great golf destinations across the Southeast – think Florida, North and South Carolina and the Gulf Coast, sometimes it’s easy to forget that there are plenty more across the country that offer diverse playing opportunities.
Michigan is one of those and a recent trip to Boyne exceeded my expectations. I have always heard that Michigan has more golf courses per capita than any other state, and that’s probably an accurate assessment. There also are plenty of ski slopes too.
The jumping off point for the Boyne Golf Experience, as it is known, is Traverse City, which is located in northern Michigan. From Nashville, that means a stop in Chicago and another flight into Michigan.
The Boyne Golf experience has 10 golf courses within just a few miles from each other and each had its own characteristics and features. An overlooked aspect of golf in Michigan is the significant amount of daylight during the summer. It’s easy to get in 36 holes when the sun doesn’t set until 10 p.m.
The area has some beautiful landscape and while it is not mountainous there are ski slopes on any good size elevation with the golf course at the base, so it is a destination 12 months of the year.
After a full day of playing golf or visiting the many area attractions you are treated to a beautiful sunset with Lake Michigan mocking an ocean for the scene.
We played five of the 10 area courses, and each was a treat in its own distinct way. Each of the five had a different look and playability. And the golf was fantastic.
Here’s a brief synopsis of each course we played:
Donald Ross Memorial
Comprised of a selection of the greatest holes ever designed by one of the sport's greatest course designers, the Donald Ross Memorial is the golfing equivalent of a "greatest hits" compilation. The course represents a labor of love, which started as an inspiration, led to years of travel, play and heated deliberation, and culminated into one of the country's most satisfying courses. A round of golf here looks, feels, and plays every bit like a true Donald Ross design.
Arthur Hills course:
A signature course that lives up to the legendary reputation of its namesake, the Arthur Hills course is widely recognized as one of the finest in Michigan - and a bucket list essential for avid golfers, both regionally and throughout the U.S. With its wide, bunker-dotted fairways, narrowing approaches and fascinating greens, this scenic course provides excellent playability for golfers of all abilities.
The Heather course:
Named 2018 Michigan Golf Course Of The Year and 2019 National Course of the Year
It's not hype. It's not pretense. It's a fact: The Heather has earned its reputation as one of the finest championship courses in the entire United States. Bearing all the markings of its legendary designer, this Robert Trent Jones, Sr. course has tested the finest names in the game since 1966, playing host to Michigan Amateurs, AJGA Championships, the Michigan State Pro-Am, and The Celebrity Tour.
The Heather has been named the 2018 Golf Course of the Year by the Michigan Golf Course Association (MGCA). The Heather has also been awarded the 2019 National Golf Course of the Year by the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA).
Taking its lead from the dramatic courses that hug Ireland's North Atlantic coastline, The Links is situated on the beautiful Lake Michigan shore, with miles of uninterrupted views up and down the lakefront. Accented by towering bluffs and windblown dunes, The Links 9 demonstrates Arthur Hills design at its finest, combining the course's unique topography with the native environment to achieve golf's greatest promise as both a sport - and a lifestyle.
The Quarry epitomizes Arthur Hills' unique ability to leverage existing terrain in the creation of something distinctive - and spectacular. Located in and around the remains of a massive shale quarry, this one-of-a-kind course claims some of the golfing world's most dramatic features, from 40-foot gorges and stone cliffs to natural ponds and a gentle waterfall. But beyond the scenery, The Quarry is golf at its finest - rewarding well-planned tee shots, and approaches that hit their spots.
The Alpine at Boyne Mountain.:
There's good reason The Alpine course plays host to the annual Tournament of Champions. With its spectacular mountainside setting and panoramic views toward Deer Lake, its setting is every bit as breathtaking is its legendary design.
From its elevated start to its finish at the 18th hole, The Alpine trends down the mountainside - presenting a diverse array of hazards and a layout that tests every aspect of your game. And consider this fair warning: once you've tried The Alpine, you'll want to face it again and again in an endless pursuit of the perfect round.
One of the added benefits of golf in northern Michigan in late June was the escape from the South’s oppressive heat. During our brief time there, temperatures barely flirted with 80 degrees. Add that to the great golf, 16 hours of daylight, beautiful sunsets over water, plenty of excellent restaurants and super accommodations, Boyne Golf should definitely be on a short list of must-visit golf destinations.