Great Lakes Escapes

Great Lakes Escapes

Text: Brenna Buckwald

There are not many sports that pair the competitive spirit with the pursuit of inner peace quite like golf as individuals strive to challenge themselves while connecting with the beauty of the surrounding natural landscape. Golf is a rather distinctive sport, as players choose to either enjoy it with a group of friends, colleagues, and family members, or opt to take a break from the stresses of daily life and book a golf vacation for one.

In this latest edition, The Golf Explorer: Michigan’s Journal to Incredible Golf, highlights some of great outstanding golf resorts for residents, members, and visitors alike can indulge in the competitive—and restorative—spirit.

Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

100 Grand Traverse Village Blvd. | Acme, Michigan

“At Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, it truly is a property unlike anything else, especially up here in Northern Michigan,” said Caroline Rizzo, public relations manager at Grand Traverse Resort.

“When you hear the word resort, you think of other places—I think of Mexico, or I think of going off to a tropical resort. That is what this place is in terms of features and amenities, just up here in beautiful Traverse City,” Rizzo added.

Home to The Bear, The Wolverine, and Spruce Run—three championship golf courses that pull in golfers of all experience levels—Grand Traverse Resort also offers many amenities for when golfers are ready to put down their clubs. Providing an array of lodging options, guests can customize their overnight experience by choosing a place to stay that best fits their group, from The Tower, The Hotel, and The Shores, to condominiums, suites, and nearby resort homes.

“You’re not just coming here to golf. You’re coming here to get a really nice experience overnight,” Rizzo said. “With the style of rooms that we have, the views that we are able to provide with the height of our tower—going up fifteen floors technically, and having panoramic views of East Grand Traverse Bay—you’re coming here and getting an incredible top-of-the-line stay.”

Within close proximity of Traverse City, Grand Traverse Resort has a number of activities to keep guests busy and entertained while off-course. Many attractions are just a short trip to the city, allowing guests to experience both resort-living and city-life, from wine-tasting at Bowers Harbor Vineyards, and visiting the Dennos Museum Center, to soaking in the sun on the beaches of Clinch Park, and shopping downtown.

For guests who want to shop even closer to the resort, the Tower Gallery of Shops features stores such as Whirligigs Candy & More; the classic toy boutique, Tumbleweeds; Mud Pie, a brand that primarily sells home décor, seasonal gifts, and baby décor; and others, offering sportswear, casual apparel, and fashion and accessories.

Onsite at the Grand Traverse Spa vacationers, can find relaxation with a variety of treatments to choose from. Its menu offers massages, facials, waxing, hair artistry, nail care, and an assortment of other self-care options.

Grand Traverse Resort also provides guests with access to its health club—a 100,000-square-foot space offering cardio and free-weight studios, five indoor tennis courts, and an indoor water playground for families to enjoy. The club runs a class schedule of instructor-led group fitness classes, such as aerobics, yoga, cardio, and cycling.

When it comes to dining options, Grand Traverse Resort has no shortcoming of restaurants for guests to choose from. On the 16th floor of the resort’s tower, Aerie Restaurant and Lounge offers guests a distinctive view of Grand Traverse Bay, as well as a menu that delivers bold dishes with locally sourced ingredients paired with either local beer or wine, as well as international and national selections.

Other onsite eateries include Sweetwater American Bistro, a family-style bistro nestled just off the Grand Lobby; The Grille Restaurant, located inside the Resort’s golf Clubhouse; and Jack’s Taproom, a modern microbrewery. Nearby at Turtle Creek Casino, Bourbons 72 Steakhouse presents a fine dining atmosphere for its visitors. 

“You can literally come to the resort and do every part of your vacation, right here on property,” Rizzo said.

Courtesy Evergreen Resort

Evergreen Resort

7880 Mackinaw Trail | Cadillac, Michigan

In the heart of the Michigan landscape, Evergreen Resort spans nearly 327 acres just outside of Cadillac. It welcomes guests with a resort-stay of home-like amenities, complimentary breakfast in one of their two onsite restaurants, and promises of relaxation—and its two golf courses: Spruce Course and Norway Course.

Overlooking Lake Cadillac, the Spruce Course’s 18 holes are situated amongst a hillside, and winds through scenic pine forests with rolling fairways, small greens, and plenty of slope from front to back. Its sister course, Norway Course, is a short nine-hole course in the heart of Evergreen Resort property, offering a peaceful game experience for golfers.

The resort offers golf packages for guests to enjoy their stay with special perks and discounted rates, such as: the Fall Stay & Play package, which includes 18 holes of golf, free breakfast, and a gift; and the Couples Getaway package for couples that are looking for a quick trip together, which includes a one-night stay, a $20 food voucher for each adult, and free breakfast.

There are two eateries at the resort: Curly’s Bar and Grill, supplying guests with a pub-style menu, local craft beers, flexible seating, TVs to watch the game, and karaoke every Friday night; and Passage North, a fine-dining restaurant which serves the resort’s complimentary breakfast each morning, and features floor to ceiling windows so guests can overlook the golf course as they enjoy their meal.

For fitness beyond golfing, guests can utilize the onsite fitness center or swim in the heated indoor pool, whirlpool, or sauna.

Crystal Mountain

12500 Crystal Mountain Dr. | Thompsonville, Michigan

Crystal Mountain delivers endless entertainment year-round. While often renowned for its 58 trails designated for downhill skiing and other sport activities, Crystal Mountain’s summer program brings 36 holes of championship golf to the Thompsonville, Michigan area with its Mountain Ridge and Betsie Valley courses.

Michigan Beer & Brat Festival, Crystal Mountain Resort

Distinctive, yet equally memorable, the two courses bring a challenging and enjoyable experience to the fairways and greens onsite. Mountain Ridge ascends to high elevations and winds through pine forests, while Betsie Valley, which recently underwent a $1 million renovation, brings a more competitive game play to the portfolio with protected greens, tree-lined fairways, and challenging bunkers.

Open to the public, Crystal Mountain also provides a 10-acre practice and learning center for golfers to sharpen their skills before hitting the courses. The center features a driving range, a covered hitting area, putting green, and two multi-tiered chipping greens with bunkers.

Guests can also take advantage of the resort’s Spa, and fitness center and indoor pool, or enjoy a number of the other outdoor activities available, such as: take a dip in the outdoor pool, sled down a curved 1,700-foot track known as the Crystal Coaster Alpine Slide, play outdoor laser tag, bike, or hike through the Michigan Legacy Art Park.

Crystal Mountain offers onsite mountain biking trails—and rentals—connecting to the Betsie River Pathway, and other local trails like Betsie Valley Trail, North County Trail, and Arcadia Dunes are just a short drive away from the resort.

Tucked into Crystal Mountain’s densely wooded 30-acre preserve, Michigan Legacy Art Park features 1.6 miles of hiking trails, with more than 50 sculptures representing a piece of Michigan’s history, poetry stones, and an outdoor amphitheater.

Bay Harbor Golf


Bay Harbor Golf Club | 5800 Coastal Ridge Drive | Bay Harbor, Michigan

Boyne Highlands | 600 Highland Drive | Harbor Springs, Michigan

Boyne Mountain | 1 Boyne Mountain Road | Boyne Falls, Michigan

Crooked Tree Golf Club | 334 Heather Drive | Harbor Springs, Michigan

Ten championship-level courses span Boyne Golf’s three resorts— Boyne Highlands, Boyne Mountain, and the Inn at Bay Harbor—gifting guests an abundance of opportunity for unique golfing experiences, as well as enjoying the activities and amenities at each resort.

“Whether you want to play a course from the top of the mountain to the bottom, overlook Lake Michigan, or you want to play through an old blueberry bog, you have a lot of variety on all of our courses and anybody that plays them will say there’s a lot of variety,” said Ken Griffin, Director of Golf Sales and Marketing at BOYNE Golf.

At Boyne Highlands, guests can enjoy games on Arthur Hills, Donald Ross Memorial, The Heather, The Moor, or a short game free of charge on Cuff Links Executive Par-3, a nine-hole course at the base of Boyne Highlands Day Lodge.

Opened in 1966 and designed by Robert Trent Jones, The Heather was BOYNE Golf’s first golf course. With wide tree-lined fairways, sculpted bunkers and daunting water hazards, the championship course is a classic that has stood the test of time.

The Moor, an AJGA Championship course, is widely regarded as a favorite by BOYNE members, as it features numerous doglegs, marshes, and waterholes and is suitable for both beginners and more advanced players.

The Donald Ross Memorial pays tribute to Donald Ross as a course that is a composite of the architect’s most renowned golf holes, recreated at Boyne Highlands. It includes holes from Oakland Hills, Seminole Golf Club, Pinehurst #2, Inverness, and Oak Hill.

Aside from Golf, Boyne Highlands offers guests musical entertainment with Young Americans Dinner Theatre, which has been a summer tradition at the resort since 1978. Paired with delicious cuisine, the productions are comprised of young up-and-coming performers hand-picked from all around the country, presenting Broadway-style performances for guests. 

Other activities at Boyne Highlands comprise: mountain biking, horseback riding, swimming in the resort’s heated outdoor pool, hiking through miles of Boyne Highlands’ forests and fields, Segway tours, and beer and wine tours.

At Boyne Mountain, golfers can enjoy the one-of-a-kind experience of playing their way down the mountain, starting at the summit and enjoying breathtaking views as they work their way through the 36 holes from The Alpine, which is host to the annual Tournament of Champions, and The Monument.

At 88,000 square-feet, Avalanche Bay, Boyne Mountain’s own indoor waterpark, is the largest indoor waterpark in Michigan, and features seven waterslides and four pools. Boyne Outfitters, located at Boyne Mountain, also offers guests the perusal of the finest gear in fly fishing at The Fly Shop, as well as guide trips.

“If you’re into golf and into fly fishing, we have our own outfitters. They’re licensed guides; they guide not only on the local rivers up here, but also we have private waters on the original Everett Kircher estate, the Everett Kircher preserve,” Griffin said. “We take guided, private trout trips onto that water, where it is catch-and-release, but we can control the number of people on those private waters.  It’s certainly not overfished.”

The Inn at Bay Harbor is home to two golf clubs—Bay Harbor Golf Club and Crooked Tree Golf Club— rounding out BOYNE Golf’s extensive list of championship courses with The Links, The Quarry, and The Preserve at Bay Harbor, and a course at Crooked Tree with panoramic views overlooking Little Traverse Bay.

In summer of 2020, the hotel also opened a newly constructed fitness center for guests to use when they’re not golfing one of the four courses at the inn.

“A lot of great golf courses in the United States, they’re tremendous golf courses and resorts, but there’s not a lot to do when you’re there other than play golf. Here, it’s four-season recreation in the Petoskey area. We think it’s truly part of our experience. It seems to be getting more of the experience off the course,” Griffin said.

“At the resort level, you’ve got spas on all three properties, and you have numerous dining options. We’re also fortunate that all of the local communities are very active. Be it Harbor Springs, Petoskey, Charlevoix, or Boyne City, there’s so many things to do in each of those towns. I believe right now there are 14 wineries relatively between our three properties,” Griffin added.

Whether one is spending their stay with BOYNE Golf strictly golfing, or wants to take advantage of the other activities offered across the three resorts, vacationers at BOYNE Golf have a plethora of options to keep themselves entertained.

Harbor Shores Resort

Harbor Shores Resort

Harbor Shores Golf Course | 201 Graham Ave. | Benton Harbor, Michigan

The Inn at Harbor Shores | 800 Whitwam Drive | St. Joseph, Michigan

“I think Harbor Shores sets itself apart from many other destinations in the fact that we really focus on making sure that every person who steps on-property feels like a member for the day. There are little things that we do and focus on with every guest to make sure that we’re remembered for something more than just great golf—and that’s great people and trying to forge and create great relationships with all of our frontline team and every guest that steps on site,” said Joshua Doxtator, general manager at Harbor Shores Resort in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

“There’s a lot of options for golf out there, but there are not a lot of options where you feel like you’re the most important person on-property,” Doxtator added.

Located in Benton Harbor, Harbor Shores Resort welcomes guests to their waterfront community and all of the attractions it offers, from hosting a lavish stay at The Inn and a multitude of dining options to a visit at Harbor Shores Spa, and its Jack Nicklaus signature course on Lake Michigan.

Harbor Shores offers a variety of overnight options, with 92 luxury rooms available for booking at The Inn, as well as the option of owning either a condominium or penthouse right at The Inn—for those looking to make Harbor Shores their primary or second home. When meal time comes around, guests can enjoy waterfront dining at Plank’s Tavern on The Water, experience fireside dining at Torch & Tapas, or grab a drink any time of day at Rise & Vine, which serves both coffee and a selection of sophisticated wines.

The hotel also offers amenities like indoor and outdoor pools, a fitness center, a marina with seasonal slips, the Spa at Harbor Shores, 12 miles of walking trails, kayak, canoe, bike rentals, and charter fishing and sailing.

“There’s something for everyone regardless of what you like to do,” Doxtator said.

Most attractive to golfers is the 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, draped across Harbor Shores’ 530 acres. Doxtator said the course is unlike any other of Nicklaus’ design due to the previous conditions and the land he had to work with onsite. 

“We are the only Jack Nicklaus Signature course on Lake Michigan,” Doxtator said. “At three to four times the size of a normal golf course, with the routing and things, we consider you play four different golf courses set in one, just due to the terrain that [Nicklaus] had to work with out here.”

Since 2012, Harbor Shores has hosted the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship every other year, and will continue to do so until 2024.

“There’s a constant focus to make this place the best it can be,” Doxtator said. “We host a major championship, so it’s our goal to make sure it feels and looks like that every single day for every single guest.”

A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort

627 Agaming Drive | Kewadin, MIchigan

With 72 holes of golf offering lakeside views from both Lake Michigan and Torch Lake, and three different onsite lodging options—Maplewood Ridge, Cedar Hollow and Vista Town homes—A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort delivers a memorable experience.

“It’s just really high-quality golf at a great value,” said Mike Brown, part-owner and general manager at A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort in Kewadin, Michigan. “With green scenery and a northern-Michigan-feel overlooking Torch Lake, out of everybody that comes, I’d say usually 75-to-85 percent of the people come back year after year.”   

The resort’s four established courses of Sundance Course, Torch Course, Antrim Dells, and Charlevoix Country Club offer golfers a distinctive gameplay with lakeside views.

The Sundance Course, which opened in June of 2005, is situated between Torch Lake and Grand Traverse Bay, and features wide fairways, vast windswept bunkers, heather-clad mounding, and spectacular vistas. The original 18-hole course at A-Ga-Ming, renamed Torch Course for its spectacular views of Torch Lake in 2005, plays nearly 6,700 yards from the tips for a challenging game that favors accuracy over length.

Featuring a beautiful parkland setting on the front-nine, which transitions into woods and creeks on the back-nine, Antrim Dells has been a northern Michigan favorite among golfers for years. After playing a game, guests can have lunch or cocktails in the clubhouse overlooking the course.

“We’re located right on Torch Lake, so we get a lot of people from Grand Rapids, Michigan that will bring their boat, or their jet skis,” Brown said. “We have biking trails that go all the way up to Harbor Springs, Charlevoix, Petoskey, and Traverse City.”

Looking ahead, Brown noted the construction of a 7,000-square-foot event center, as well as a new pro shop, are both scheduled to open of spring of 2021. 

“It’s just a really good northern Michigan destination,” Brown said. “It’s a pretty relaxing feel, but still close to everything that you want to come up north for—wineries, and restaurants, and things of that nature.”

Shanty Creek Resort Courtesy Brian Walters

Shanty Creek Resort

Summit Village | 5780 Shanty Creek Road | Bellaire, Michigan

Cedar River Village | 2400 Troon S | Bellaire, Michigan

Schuss Village | 1826 Schuss Mountain Ln | Mancelona, Michigan

“There are 72 golf holes within a five-mile radius. Shanty Creek, as a property, we’re about 5,000 acres in total. All of those courses are within that footprint, that acreage. Whereas a lot of other places, you have to drive really far to get a lot of courses,” said Lindsey Southwell, marketing director at Shanty Creek Resort.

Stretching across rolling countryside in northern Michigan’s Antrim County, Shanty Creek Resort ties in diverse qualities across three different villages—Summit Village, Cedar River Village, and Schuss Mountain—that together embody the resort as a whole.

Presenting the majority of the lodging options, Summit Village is often referred to as the original Shanty Creek. Guests who are drawn to the village for its Wellness Spa and Fitness Center, The Lakeview Conference Center, the Summit Mountain Alpine Tubing Park, or the two golf courses onsite, have many inns to choose from when planning their stay. The Lakeview Hotel and Crosswinds, Ridgewalk, Sawtooth, Timber Ridge, Trappers Lodge, and Windcliff condos all give guests an overnight stay filled with comfort and a multitude of amenities within arm’s reach.

Coined as “simple local social dining,” Summit Village’s restaurant The Lakeview presents a menu of steak, pasta, and homemade desserts, and a view of Lake Bellaire’s magical sunset each night.

The Legend and Summit golf courses are both located on the premises of Summit Village. A course by Arnold Palmer, The Legend highlights multiple elevation changes, water hazards, doglegs, and well-placed traps, making for an exceptional game; while the Summit is a par-3 design by William Diddel.

At Cedar River Village, home to the Tom Weiskopf-designed Cedar River course, vacationers can choose to stay in Slopeside and Golfside condos, or for guests desiring a more modern architectural style and a spacious suite, one- and two-bedroom suites at The Lodge are available.

Overlooking the 18th green, The River Bistro at Cedar River Village stages an offering of chic appetizers and sandwiches, specialty sides, and fresh fruit cocktails. Guests can sit on the eatery’s year-round patio, observing Schuss Mountain’s north slopes and purple lift, or choose to utilize the bistro’s big-screen TVs or play billiards, air hockey, or darts while dining.

Although Schuss Village really comes alive for the winter ski season, with budget-friendly ski-in/out lodging options at The Schuss Lodge, Bergrand Condos, and Vienna Woods Homes, the village is also home to Schuss Mountain golf course, and the grab-n-go eatery of Schuss Grill, which is only open for golf season.

“The biggest asset to Shanty Creek, as far as amenities go, is really what is off-campus, I would call it. We’re very close to Torch Lake, which is rated one of the most beautiful lakes in the entire world. There’s fishing, boating, pontoon rentals, and swimming and beaches. Torch Lake and the chain of lakes is a really big asset to us,” Southwell said.

“Then there is downtown Bellaire itself. We have a lot of food and beverage opportunities downtown, and we also have just a lot of shopping—like cool, unique, eclectic shopping experiences. You can get that on-property, but the whole bonus is you’re staying on resort and we have shuttles that take you and drop you off right in downtown Bellaire, so it’s really accessible to people,” Southwell added.

Shanty Creek’s shuttle system not only extends to-and-from downtown Bellaire, but also allows guests to travel freely among each of the resort’s villages.

“That’s something that is really important to Shanty Creek Resort, and it is somewhat unique to us, is just the overall guest experience. We seek to give people that up-north experience,” Southwell said. “When you’re here, you’re in the middle of nowhere, and there is a lot to do in this middle of nowhere, but it really makes you feel like ‘I really got away from it all, and I had a great time because they took care of everything for me.’”

Forest Dunes Golf Club courtesy Brian Walters

Forest Dunes Golf Club

6376 Forest Dunes Dr | Roscommon, Michigan

In Roscommon, Michigan, Forest Dunes awaits with 54 holes of golf winding through northern timbers and small-town hospitality.

“It is a pure golf escape,” said Don Helinski, director of operations at Forest Dunes Golf Club. “There is no pool or spa or anything like that—it is a purely high-end golf experience.”

With three lodging options and courses such as Forest Dunes, The Loop, and the resort’s new addition of the Short Course, vacationers seeking a pure-golf experience need look no further.

“The Forest Dunes course is unique in its own right. It has two distinct nines. The front-nine is a forest-nine—typical parkland style golf that you see in northern Michigan with tree-lined fairways,” Helinski said. “Then the back-nine is the dune side. It opens up to be more spacious and has a lot of native wasteland areas and natural sand dunes that are from the glacial deposits.”

Helinski noted the 19th hole on the Forest Dunes course has been a staple of the course for its chip shot over water with the green having a bunker in the center, reminiscent of the famous hole at Riviera that has a bunker in the middle of the green.

In 2016, The Loop, designed by Tom Doak, became the resort’s first reversible course, meaning it uses the same 18 greens and fairways, but plays as two completely different courses depending on the day. On even calendar dates, The Loop-Red plays counter-clockwise and more traditional in design; while on odd days, The Loop-Black plays clockwise with a challenging start and easier finish.

“To experience the true genius of the design, you have to play it on back-to-back days or an even day and an odd day,” Helinski said. “The Loop is heathland-style golf, which is basically links-style but not on the sea. It is very wide open, with firm and fast fairways that are fescue so there’s a lot of creative shot making. It has a very European look and feel to it. It plays like golf in the early days, how it was meant to be played.”

For golfers looking for a laid-back social golf experience, in August of 2020 Forest Dunes Resort opened The Short Course, a ten-hole course with holes ranging between 50- and 150-yards, playable in about an hour’s time.

“The goal of the short course is to get people together and have fun. It’s not necessarily about your score; it’s not a par-three course, there isn’t really a par. We don’t want you measuring yourself against how many strokes somebody says you should have on that given hole,” Helinski said.

“It is walking-only and you only need probably three clubs and a putter at most. We allow groups of up to eight players to play together, and there’s people out there playing barefoot, playing music—it has thrown out some of the old standards and stereotypes of golf,” Helinski added.

The Short Course starts and ends at Forest Dunes’ outdoor pavilion.

Forest Dunes provides guests looking for an overnight golf trip with three different lodging accommodations. These include villas, which offer two- and four-bedroom configurations and are within walking distance of the clubhouse; cottages dispersed throughout the property, letting guests have more freedom of location, and more living space with three- to five-bedroom options; and The Lake AuSable Lodge, featuring 11 standard rooms and two suites—located just 35 yards from the first tee of the Forest Dunes course.

Serving traditional American cuisine with a northern Michigan flair, Sangomore’s Restaurant offers guests the option of dining in the grand dining room, which features floor-to-ceiling windows for picturesque views of the Forest Dunes course; the grille room; or covered outdoor seating, for a more casual experience.

“There’s a lot of people looking to escape at Forest Dunes. We’re in the middle of nowhere, but that is what we like about this place,” Helinski said. “You can leave your cares behind you when you come on property; it’s all about relaxing and enjoying the game of golf.”


Lakewood Shores Resort

7751 Cedar Lake Rd | Oscoda, Michigan

At Lakewood Shores Resort in Oscoda, Michigan, courses with names like The Gailes, Blackshire, and The Serradella awaits—as well as a resort-stay in one of the property’s 152 rooms.

Designed by Kevin Aldridge, The Gailes features large double greens, meandering berms, sod-faced pot bunkers, and long fescue grasses—with blustery offshore winds from the lake recreating the feeling of playing seaside in Scotland.

Its sister course, Blackshire, was also designed by Aldridge, and features an ambiance akin to Pine Valley Club Course with its hardwoods, large sand waste areas, and undulating greens spanning less than 200 acres, making for shore walks from green-to-tees.

The Serradella, a Bruce Matthews design, is a classic parkland-style course with minimal hazards, wide fairways, and large greens, featuring more than 50,000 annual and perennial arrangements scattered throughout for golfers to enjoy as they work their way through the game.

Lakewood Shores Resorts offers accommodations and comfort for everyone with styles ranging from new hotel units to spacious one- and two-bedroom suites—many with in-room Jacuzzis and patios overlooking the courses.

When off-course, guests can dine in either the main dining room, or at Scotland Cove—the 19th hole eatery—serving soups, sandwiches, and quick snacks. A private beach at Cedar Lake is available for families staying with Lakewood Shores, which is a perfect destination for swimming, jet skiing, canoeing, and fishing.

Manitou Passage Golf Club by Brian Walters

Manitou Passage Golf Club

4600 S Club Dr | Cedar, Michigan

The Homestead

1 Woodridge Rd | Glen Arbor, Michigan

Manitou Passage Golf Club in Cedar, Michigan is home to an 18-hole, Arnold Palmer-designed course and Arnie’s Grill, and is located within close proximity to Sleeping Bear Dunes and Traverse City.

“We’re an Arnold Palmer signature golf course. Obviously, Mr. Palmer was involved on the building and designing of the golf course, so that is a pretty unique thing. There’s a select few people in the world that can actually put that title with their course name,” said Kevin Grubb, clubhouse manager at Manitou Passage Golf Club.

Manitou Passage is set upon green meadows and coastal forests touching Lake Michigan’s beaches and rolling dunes. The course presents new challenges with every game, due to the topography and windy lake environment.

“Our piece of property is butted up back to the old Sugarloaf ski resort, so we have a lot of elevation change, especially on the front side of our golf course. You really get that true, western Michigan, rolling hills and elevation changes at Manitou. Being a downstate-person, I always say this is kind of what I pictured of up north golf; not the flatness we get downstate,” Grubb said.

The club has been tied to The Homestead in Glen Arbor, its sister property, since 2009, when a group of golfers led by the owner of The Homestead purchased the course with the intention of upgrading it and turning it into a destination course. Golfers playing Manitou Passage course now can take advantage of the splendid benefits of the partnership—including an onsite eatery, Arnie’s Grill, that hosts a menu created by The Homestead’s executive chef; as well as lodging at The Homestead and all of the amenities included when staying there.

A charming, lakeshore destination, The Homestead features four lodging options: The Inn, located where the Crystal River joins Lake Michigan; Stony Brook Lodge, featuring one- and two-bedroom suites in natural stone and wood-detailing; Little Belle, a romantic retreat with a plaza paved in brick and adorned with waterfalls, creeks, and gardens; and Fiddler’s Pond. The Adults Only suites at Little Belle feature a fireplace and two-person tub for couples to enjoy, as well as original art and antiques for a distinctive experience. At Fiddler’s Pond, guests are treated to cottage-like nostalgia in paneled rooms nestled in a pine forest line with sparkling ponds and a pool.  

“I would say overall we’re a family-oriented resort. We really try to keep entertainment for all ages. Most of our clientele is families coming up,” Grubb said.

The four-season resort has pet friendly rooms available and boasts fun all year-round—and especially during the golf season, the play doesn’t end after a round of golf. For beachfront fun, guests can swing their racquets on the resort’s beachside, clay, tennis courts; enjoy the scenery of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore out on the water in a kayak, stand-up paddleboard or a paddle boat; or take a swim in the lake. Sleeping Bear Dunes offers miles of trails of all difficulty levels, many within walking distance of the hotels and condominiums at The Homestead.

Guests can also get together to play lawn games such as bocce ball, croquet, or horseshoes, provided by the resort; or take a charter fishing trip on Lake Michigan, fish along Crystal River, and bike on Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. The resort also features Spa Amira and Lillyjade, a Salon, for those interested in relaxation through body care, hair, facials, and massage services.

Committed to using local ingredients, The Homestead’s array of dining venues are united in the promise of a simple and good experience eating out.

“We have our main one, called Cavanaugh’s, basically that is a grocery store and little restaurant. We make pizzas and sandwiches in there. Right now, we’re doing some carry out food that our chef’s doing, so if you can’t have the restaurants open people can take it back to their rooms and warm up. We have alcohols available; wines, soda, and things of that nature,” Grubb said.

Whiskers Bar and Grill serves locally sourced beer and ciders for guests to sip on while enjoying company and the warmth of the bar’s indoor and outdoor fireplaces.

“The outdoor bar we typically do not run all year. In the past, that’s just been a summertime operation, but with Covid-19 we opened it and we may change it in the future, because it’s been a hit,” Grubb said.

Open during the summer, Café Manitou is located down at the beach club, providing a finer dining experience for guests, with the option of eating either indoors or outdoors. The café presents views of Lake Michigan and The Crystal River.

“We switch to our other fine dining that’s over there in the winter; it’s called Nonna’s, that is Italian fine dining,” Grubb said. 

Nonna’s provides a farmhouse setting and a rotating menu of classically inspired Northern Italian cuisine, only open in the winter season.

“It was obviously a challenging year for everyone, but I think what I saw this summer was kind of a renewed growth in golf, which was pretty global. We saw that all over the world,” Grubb said. “It’s our job now to try and keep and retain those people as golfers and keep them in the sport as much as we can.”

Featured Crystal Mountain Resort