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Michigans Upper Penninsula not too far from Whistling Straits

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HARRIS, Mich. – The talk up here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is all about this week's PGA Championship at Whistling Straits and, of course, whether or not Tiger Woods will be a factor. Whistling Straits, which is located in Kohler, Wis., is only a little more than 150 miles from several good golf courses in the UP.

In truth, the UP feels more like Wisconsin than it does Michigan sometimes. They are both part of the same land mass, and you'll find a lot more Green Bay Packer fans than you will Detroit Lions supporters in Marquette, Mich. Of course, the Packers have little better track record, too.


For those making their way to Kohler for the PGA Championship, the UP would make for a nice diversion. The Island Hotel Casino here has the very playable and interesting Sweetgrass Golf Club on its property.

Designed by Paul Albanese, who used to work for Jerry Matthews, Sweetgrass has huge fairways and greens, an island green, a double green you could land a small jet on and an even bigger green on a par 3 where the pin placement could make a five-club difference. It's fun because it's difficult to lose a ball -- but not impossible with areas of native grass catching the really wide shots.

The resort offers reasonable golf stay-and-play packages for around $250 that include two nights lodging and rounds on Sweetgrass as well as the Mike DeVries-designed Greywalls Course at Marquette Golf Club and TimberStone Golf Club at Pine Mountain. They're all within an hour or hour and a half of each other, and all are very different from each other.

Greywalls is unlike anything you've probably ever seen. With huge elevation changes, it provides plenty of ego-boosting tee shots as well as plenty of unusual rock outcroppings around greens and fairways that give just as many friendly bounces as bad ones.

TimberStone is a Matthews design that represents the most traditional of the three courses. It boasts tree-lined rolling fairways, plenty of doglegs and undulating greens. And if you hang around long enough, you can trade your clubs for skis at the Pine Mountain Resort, which was opened in 1939 by Fred Pabst of Pabst Blue Ribbon fame. But judging from this week's temperatures, which were in the mid 80s, that seems like a long way off.