Monday, January 9, 2006
The Country's Summer Golf Capital
Great LakesMost golfers are slowly becoming aware of what is now one of America’s finest golfing venues: the Great Lakes, particularly Michigan and Wisconsin. In recent years, some of the most celebrated new courses in America opened in this region. The varied topography–everything from sand dunes to abandoned stone quarries—combined with perfect soils and abundant water have made the area an ideal place for building exciting golf courses.
The result is a collection of high-end resort courses, the caliber of which can compete with any golf destination in America. You’ve probably heard of Michigan’s Bay Harbor and of Wisconsin’s Whistling Straits, but there really is a whole lot more.
Northern Michigan has long been the summer-time playground of the rich the famous. Ernest Hemingway, Walter Hagen, Tom Watson and former Augusta National and Masters Chairman Hord Hardin loved to visit the quaint towns of Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Boyne City, Charlevoix and Traverse City. Needless to say, golf courses were developed to accommodate them.
But here golf is not just for the wealthy. Michigan is known for having the most public golf courses per capita of any state and the tradition of public play goes deep. As a result, almost all of northern Michigan and Wisconsin resort courses are open for public play and at rates much below those in other resort areas.
As a result, golfers from all over the eastern seaboard and the Midwest now come to Michigan and Wisconsin to play summer golf. From April through October, these courses are busy from early until late—very late, as in mid-summer the sun does not set until after 10 p.m.
The list of golf resorts is impressive: Bay Harbor Golf Club, Boyne USA, Garland, Treetops, Shanty Creek and Grand Traverse Resort all boast multiple golf courses, for every golfing level.
And vacationers don’t just come for golf, although there is plenty of it. They come to enjoy the shores of the Great Lakes (much of both states are surrounded by water), or to fish in the little lakes and streams, or to climb the sand dunes, or hike through the woods, or bike one of the state’s great trails.
Another big lure for northern Michigan is Mackinac Island, one of America’s most popular summer destinations.
Once you arrive by ferry you go back to a time to when people traveled only by horse and bicycle (no motorized vehicles are allowed). It is a charming and magical. No fear, there is golf on Mackinac, as well.
All of this is why Michigan and Wisconsin are perfect for all types of golfers: the play-all-day golfing groups, golfing couples who want fine dining and superb accommodations and golfing families who want something to entertain everyone.
While midsummer is high season for Midwest golf, spring and fall are also excellent times to hit the links. Prices are even more favorable and the many hues of fall foliage on the hardwood trees are simply fabulous to behold.
Of course, there is wildlife, too. You rarely play a round without encountering nesting eagles, swift white-tailed deer, flocks of turkeys, rambunctious red-tailed squirrels and even a crafty fox or two. These courses have them all.
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