The Michigan Golf Course Association recognizes Boyne Highlands’ course as a landmark this year.
Text: Greg Johnson
Boyne Resorts’ very first golf course known as The Heather at Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs, Michigan, has been named the 2018 Golf Course of the Year by the Michigan Golf Course Association, or MGCA.
Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., The Heather opened in 1966 as the landmark golf course for Boyne Resorts, and is considered a landmark course for the resort golf industry in northern Michigan as well.
“The Heather’s challenge is absolutely timeless,” said Kate Moore of MGCA in making the announcement. “It is widely considered to be one of the finest championship courses in the nation.”
The MGCA Course of the Year Award honors a member course that meets four criteria: exceptional quality of the course, exceptional quality of ownership and management, outstanding contribution to its community, and significant contribution to the game.
The Heather spans nearly 7,148 yards of natural wetlands, rolling fairways, tour white sand bunkers, and blueberry bogs. A championship caliber player finds a sound test. The Michigan Amateur Championship has been contested on The Heather four times. In contrast, the course is consistently recognized as one of the friendliest for women and senior golfers. Its many awards and rankings comprise being listed among The Top 100 Courses You Can Play by Golf Magazine, and 50 Best Courses for Women by Golf for Women magazine.
“In a state that is full of great golf facilities, to be recognized by our golf course association of owners and operators is very humbling and an honor,” said Bernie Friedrich, senior vice president at Boyne. “This recognition is a tribute to our wonderful staff, who have taken great pride in the vision we maintain here at The Heather.”
Boyne Resorts was founded in Michigan by Everett Kircher and has become a national resort company that employs more than 7,000 full-time and seasonal staff nationwide at its 13 resort properties, which includes 10 ski resorts. In Michigan alone, it has three resorts: Boyne Highlands, Boyne Mountain, and Bay Harbor; featuring a combined 10 golf courses in addition to their highly regarded ski offerings.
Boyne remains under the ownership of the Kircher family. Stephen Kircher, president, said his late father Everett, a Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member and innovative ski operator who started the company, was someone who knew, instinctively, that the golf business wasn’t really about golf.
“He knew it was about active, outdoor, leisure entertainment, and he was decades ahead of the competition in capitalizing on that revelation when in 1966, The Heather course opened to almost universal praise,” Kircher said. “It’s still arguably our best golf course.”
Photos courtesy BOYNE Resorts