America’s Summer Golf Capital

“You want me to do what? Play all 10? I was only planning to come for five days!!!” As we are discussing my first ever visit to Boyne, Director of Sales and Marketing, Ken Griffin wants me to play them all.

“Perfect,” says Ken, “we can play all 10 in five days!”  Yikes he is going to make me play 36 a day.

He must be a mad man…I’m gonna die!

Needless to say, it was a busy Boyne visit. With all my previous visits to Michigan I can’t believe I had yet to get to Boyne.  A true testament to just how much great golf is spread through this one State – Michigan!

Putting this destination into perspective, coming up from Detroit you are about four hours to the small town of Boyne where you will find:

Welcome to the Inn at Bay Harbor

Boyne Mountain a village like setting with quaint bars, restaurants, shopping, ski hills and two of the 10 courses that make up Boyne Golf.

Boyne Highlands is just down the road, 10 – 15 minutes from Petoskey. Here you have resort with four Championship courses, designed by the likes of Donald Ross, Robert Trent Jones and Arthur Hills plus Cuff Links a 9-hole par 3.

We will come back to these next month…for now let me introduce you to the Inn at Bay Harbor, a spectacular Autograph Collection Marriott Hotel with panoramic views overlooking Lake Michigan, not only from the hotel but also the three nines at Bay Harbor Golf Club.  A few minutes away is another piece of the golf puzzle – Crooked Tree Golf Club.

The Inn at Bay Harbor, there are not enough words that can do justice to this property or setting, from the oh so well-appointed rooms, suites and cottages to the surrounding beauty. The landing page here says it all and the video below encompasses the hotel and the three nines at Bay Harbor Golf Club.

This day started early with Ken and I perched high above Little Traverse Bay battling the blustery winds at the Arthur Hills masterpiece, Crooked Tree Golf Club with plenty of elevation changes and distracting views of the Bay below.

A great variety of holes on this track, and where you have elevation changes you can have tricky greens and you do so here. I was extremely fortunate to have Ken by my side here as local advice came in handy, at least when I could execute.  If playing for the first time a yardage book would really come in handy!

15th Hole, Crooked Tree Golf Club

Five par 3’s on the course which always make it fun!  Enjoy the views from the 15th coming home.  The par 4 – 16th is particularly memorable with a big drop from tee to green.  Be prepared to use every club in the bag!

Crooked Tree is part of the Dynamic Duo of Courses that you can play conveniently out of the Inn at Bay Harbor and that is where we are off to next. Yes, this is a day of 36!  I’m gonna die…but with a smile on my face!

Arthur Hills certainly worked his magic on this trifecta of nines along the shores of Lake Michigan. The Preserve gives you the tranquil feeling of playing through a nature preserve. Staring at dense hardwoods lining both sides of hole #1 we are grateful for the wind having died down. Finesse will win out over aggression here, some risk rewards holes and some with options on how to get from tee to one lush green after another. Your thinking man’s nine ends when you emerge from the hardwoods, to the par 3- 9th, 186 yards with Lake Michigan acting as a watery grave for errant shots.

Are we having fun yet? Of course, but getting thirsty!  Nine more to go!

Can I say we saved the best for last, at least for this day? The Pebble Beach of Michigan, yup, add in a touch of Scottish links!  The Links at Bay Harbor provides views of Lake Michigan on pretty much every hole – get use to it!  None are any better than on the par 3 fourth hole with a view of the Inn in the horizon.  Downhill sloping towards Little Traverse Bay.  A little long here and the two-tiered green might just be setting you up for your post round martini.  Not shaken, not stirred but on the rocks!

Greens are big and slick and some with devilish false fronts, bunkers seem bigger and deadly – stay away!

Crème de la crème – The par 5, 7th stretches all along a cliff, high above Lake Michigan. A good tee shot seems to fly out into the water, but never fear, there is plenty of room. What will be a challenge are the moguls and bunkering on the left side of the fairway. An aggressive play to go for the green here is all uphill, but there is enough room short of the green that makes a nice safety net if your shot is not struck well. It is much easier to find yourself below the hole here on this green that slopes from left to right, back to front.

Now I’m extremely thirsty, but invigorated by the beauty of the last nine, it is time to wind our way to the clubhouse.

Note: I did play The Quarry, thankfully not on the same day!  Using everything that an abandoned quarry gives you to work with, 40-foot gorges, stone cliffs, ponding and even the shore of Lake Michigan.  One signature hole after another, different and unique.

Great golf aside, make sure that you spare some time to discover the Petoskey.  Nestled along the shores of Little Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan, in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan, this beautiful resort community is steeped in history, Victorian architecture, and breathtaking views. Surrounded by the equally charming and historic communities of Harbor Springs and Charlevoix, the Petoskey area boasts unparalleled beauty and charm, offering residents and visitors alike the opportunity to unwind and enjoy nature at its finest.

Nothing like a cold one or two after a round and if you are into Craft Beers, the Petoskey area has six microbreweries.

For gamers there is the Odawa Casino which has 1,200 slot machines, poker room, blackjack room, roulette, craps and other games with restaurants and live entertainment.

Several wineries have opened in the area in the past few years, some worth checking out include Petoskey Farms Vineyard and Winery, Walloon Lake Winery and Mackinaw Trail Winery.

For Ernest Hemingway fans, the celebrated author of classics such as “Farewell to Arms” and “Old Man and the Sea” spent the first 22 summers of his life at the family vacation home in the Petoskey area. The Little Traverse Historical Museum in downtown Petoskey has an exhibit dedicated to Hemingway’s years in the area.

I can’t wait for the warmer weather to hit!  I’m ‘dyeing’ to get back to Boyne!

You should be too!  Check out their many options for Stay & Play Packages.