Punch Shots: Best northern Michigan golf itinerary

By Brandon TuckerMay 15, 2012, 3:47 pm

One of America's great summer getaways is shining once again. But northern Michigan has a variety of destinations golfers can enjoy. We asked Michigan natives Brandon Tucker and Jason Deegan to draw up their ideal itineraries for a long weekend. 

Brandon Tucker: Petoskey, Charlevoix and Harbor Springs

The best thing about Little Traverse Bay and the towns that wrap around it, Charlevoix, Petoskey and Harbor Springs, is you can see a great mix of golf courses, from classic to modern, forest and seaside, without spending too much time in the car or the need to change your home base.

On day one, start up in Charlevoix and walk 18 holes on Belvedere Golf Club, a Willie Watson design that dates back to 1927 and remains a great walk to this day. Nearby is one of my other favorite lesser-known courses in the north and a great bargain, Dunmaglas Golf Club, which is set on a remarkable piece of 800 rolling acres that offer a mix of forest and open holes.

On day two, play Bay Harbor Golf Club. Heck, why not book the first tee time of the day and play all 27 holes twice? The summer days are that long up here, and you'll want to be out on the bayside holes in the evening sun for the best scenery.

For day three, head east along Bay View Road towards Harbor Springs, and you'll come to Boyne Highlands Resort. Go old school and enlist in a caddie on the Heather, a classic but still plenty tough Robert Trent Jones Sr. design. In the afternoon, you'll have to decide between the Donald Ross Memorial or the Arthur Hills Course, each of which have their own selling points. The Hills boasts the best elevated tee shot at Boyne, but I favor the classical stylings of Memorial.

On day four, head a couple miles outside Boyne's entrance to Jim Engh-designed True North Golf Club. It's still one of the more under-played courses in the area, which means a good chance of open fairways ahead of you and great conditions (as I enjoyed on my round there). If you want to play an afternoon round, there are scores of affordable local tracks that you've probably never heard of. Try Little Traverse Bay Golf Club - a course I've yet to make it to but gets great word-of-mouth.

For lodging, you can stay-and-play in style at the Inn at Bay Harbor or find more affordable accommodations at four-course Boyne Highlands Resort. Or, once I stayed at a charming little hotel on the shores of the Little Traverse Bay, Stafford's Bay View Inn.

As a bonus, if you end up driving back towards Chicago, stop off at Tullymore Golf Club, another Engh design set in forested meadows that has phenomenal hole variety. If you're headed back towards Detroit, visit Forest Dunes, a Tom Weiskopf design that blends a mix of forest and dunes. Both are Top 100 worthy and offer yet another style of golf you can enjoy in the north.

Jason Deegan: Traverse City

Normally, I’d steer toward the Gaylord Golf Mecca for a buddies trip in northern Michigan. It’s got a great mix of value-oriented courses and resorts located fairly close to one another.

But if Gaylord is a solid double every time, I’m shooting for a home run with this mighty swing. I’m picking the region surrounding Traverse City as a home base. This trip requires more driving, but the rewards are a bigger variety of inspiring places to play and more off-the-course entertainment.

Traverse City boasts dinner haunts galore and a bar scene livelier than Gaylord, and toss in Turtle Creek Casino in Williamsburg, and gorgeous beaches on Grand Traverse Bay, too. As for the golf, it’s debatable that my itinerary of Arcadia Bluffs, The Kingsley Club, The Bear and friends can out-duel Gaylord’s dreamy lineup of Treetops Resort, Black Lake Golf Club, Black Forest Golf Club atop a deep roster of must-plays. 

For lodging, spend two nights at Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa in rural back country south of the city and two nights at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa just east of town, which offer two distinct golf trips in one long weekend.

Crystal Mountain provides great access to Kingsley Club and Arcadia Bluffs. These links experiences come with firm and fast conditions and some wild greens. A round at Arcadia followed by dinner and drinks on the patio will no doubt be sublime. The private Kingsley Club requires a call from a head professional to book a tee time, but it’s not a major obstacle to play such a unique design. Nearby, Crystal Mountain is a cozy mountainside retreat with the fine Mountain Ridge course, site of the Michigan Women’s Open the past decade.

The move to Grand Traverse should be seamless. Just drop your luggage off at the front desk and head out to play 36. The Bear by Jack Nicklaus, rated among the toughest courses in the country, remains the king of the resort’s three courses. For the second round, take on Gary Player’s The Wolverine. Those seeking another challenge, however, can head across the street to LochenHeath, a former private club that’s making a nice comeback under new ownership.

On the final day, Manitou Passage, a revived Arnold Palmer course in Glen Arbor, will look more like the golf of Gaylord: scenic and tree-lined with loads of elevation change. It’s what we all love about Northern Michigan in summer.

Click here to view more northern Michigan tee times and golf packages at GolfNow.com

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.

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Ortiz leads LAAC through 54; Niemann, Gana one back

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 8:15 pm

Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz shot a 1-under 70 Monday to take the 54-hole lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship in Chile.

At 4 under for the week, he leads by one over over Argentina's Jaime Lopez Rivarola, Chile's Toto Gana and Joaquin Niemann, and Guatemala's Dnaiel Gurtner.

Ortiz is the younger brother of three-time Web.com winner Carlos. Alvaro, a senior at Arkansas, finished tied for third at the LAAC in 2016 and lost in a three-way playoff last year that included Niemann and Gana, the champion.

Ortiz shared the 54-hole lead with Gana last year and they will once again play in the final group on Tuesday, along with Gurtner, a redshirt junior at TCU.

“Literally, I've been thinking about [winning] all year long," Ortiz said Monday. "Yes, I am a very emotional player, but tomorrow I want to go out calm and with a lot of patience. I don't want the emotions to get the better of me. What I've learned this past year, especially in the tournaments I’ve played for my university, is that I have become more mature and that I have learned how to control myself on the inside on the golf course.”

In the group behind, Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who is poised to turn professional, unless of course he walks away with the title.

“I feel a lot of motivation at the moment, especially because I am the only player in the field that shot seven under (during the second round), and I am actually just one shot off the lead," he said. "So I believe that tomorrow I can shoot another very low round."

Tuesday's winner will earn an invitation to this year's Masters and exemptions into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and final qualifying for The Open.