Island Resort & Casino in U.P. opens second 18-hole course

Island Resort & Casino in U.P. opens second 18-hole course

Text: Greg Johnson

Sage Run Golf Club has joined Sweetgrass Golf Club at Island Resort & Casino in Harris, Michigan. To celebrate the opening of the resort’s second golf course, Hannahville Indian Community—a federally recognized Potawatomi Indian Tribe—Tribal Chairman Kenneth Meshiguad, Island Resort General Manager Tony Mancilla, and Paul Albanese, ASGCA of Albanese and Lutzke Golf Course Design, held a ceremony with community members and leaders to commemorate Sage Run. 

“We are very excited to be opening our second golf course on the 10-year anniversary of our first course Sweetgrass,” Mancilla said. “Sage Run is exactly what we wanted – something different from the other courses in the region. It has a very rugged feel that was inspired by a trip Paul Albanese and I took to Royal County Down, including tee-boxes that are natural to the ground on simple land forms similar to how they built them back in the late 1800s.”

Albanese called the final product inspiring.

“We spent months on different routings allowing us to experience the different landscapes including the drumlin,” Albanese said. “Many of the holes go over, around an off of it.”

The drumlin, which is an elongated hill or ridge formed by glacial ice long ago, is the primary feature on Sage Run.

“Sage Run has a very rough and tumble feel to it,” Albanese said. “As Tony indicated, our trip to Royal County Down was very inspirational in this design and we incorporated some of the rugged design philosophy into it. Golfers will experience great holes through the trees, some in open areas and just a lot of variety in terms of landscape and feel.”

Island Resort & Casino’s second course debut also coincides with its original course’s decade long excellence. Sweetgrass, also designed by Albanese, was developed 10 years ago in Michigan’s scenic Upper Peninsula outside of Escanaba. The course features masterfully crafted rockwork with a prairie, links-style layout. Sweetgrass’ also has an island green on the 15th hole and a pair of breathtaking waterfalls that greet golfers as they play up the ninth and 18th holes to a large shared green. 

A Biarritz and a Redan green, and bridges rescued from other areas in the state, are other compelling design components and part of the story of the course. Sweetgrass is also home to the LPGA Symetra Tour’s Island Resort Championship.

“Not very many architects have the opportunity to come back and design a second golf course at a resort destination like Island Resort,” Albanese said. “It was a wonderful opportunity to be able to design this second golf course and now have two very unique designs for golfers of all levels to experience.”

Island Resort & Casino is located approximately 13 miles West of Escanaba. It is one of the Midwest’s largest golf, casino, and entertainment resort destinations spanning more than 408,000 square-feet. The resort features about 300 guest rooms and a 42-site RV Park. The casino also offers a poker room, craps, blackjack, Spanish 21, three card poker, let-it-ride, roulette, bingo, and more than 1,200 slot machines for its guests. 

The resort amenities also include the Drift Spa, which offers a variety of high-end spa services with access to the resort’s salt water pool, steam rooms and sauna.  Multiple dining options comprise the signature 5 Bridges Steak and Seafood House, 5 Bridges Pub, Firekeepers Restaurant, T. McC’s Sports Bar, Coral Reef Grille, Signature Subs & Pizza, and The Coffee & Custard Shop featuring items from The Bakery. The Island regularly hosts headline entertainment in the intimate 1,315-seat Showroom as well as weekly bands and comedy entertainers in Club 41.  The Island Convention Center provides space for special events, business meetings, and weddings.


Photos by Brian Walters Photography