Text: Brenna Buckwald // Photography: Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Grand Rapids East; Experience GR; Nile Young
In Grand Rapids, Michigan, a city nicknamed Beer City, USA for its offering of more than 40 local breweries, golfers can spend their days under the sun with a golf club in their hand and evenings walking the streets of the city, trading their clubs in for a cold drink.
Allowing easy access to both area golf courses and the downtown scene, Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Grand Rapids East is in the perfect location—just minutes from the highway—for traveling groups to enjoy both elements of the golf destination. The hotel’s golf packages available to overnight guests also makes booking the trip a much simpler process.
Country Inn & Suites’ golf packages—The Eagle Package, The Birdie Package, and The Par Package—include a range of options to support one’s golf vacation, with a variation of included nights at the hotel, number of rounds, and the ability to choose from six area golf courses.
Ed Wilson, general manager at Country Inn & Suites by Radisson Grand Rapids East, said that the golf packages at the hotel were initially started with Jeff O’Malley, former PGA director of golf at Pilgrim’s Run Golf Club. Now, golfers booking a package can choose from a total of six courses: Pilgrim’s Run Golf Club, Quail Ridge Golf Club, The Golf Club at Thornapple Pointe, Boulder Creek Golf Club, Ravines Golf Club, and The Mines Golf Course. Wilson indicated that he could customize any of the set packages to accomplish guests’ trip goals, offering flexibility with group size, number of rounds they want to play, and the number of nights they’d like to stay.
“Some of the groups are doing it on their way through as they go to American Dunes or Arcadia Bluffs, and others just come to Grand Rapids for three-to-four nights and pick a few courses, and I just work with the individual courses to set up tee times and put together the whole package and go from there,” Wilson said. “I am a golfer, so I enjoy it. It is a lot of fun.”
Groups hoping to book a golf package at the hotel can find information about the packages on Experience Grand Rapids’ website, or by calling Country Inn & Suites directly.
When it comes to trying some of the local brews crafted right in Grand Rapids, groups have a few options: they can take the approach of visiting a few breweries, utilizing Experience Grand Rapids’ Ale Trail map to assist with directions, join the Beer City Brewsader® program, or enjoy a drink outside within Grand Rapids’ Refreshment Area.
“We have a Beer City Brewsader® program; it is an effort to encourage people to become Brewsaders, which means you come and have an experience at eight of our 45-plus craft breweries in the destination,” said Janet Korn, senior vice president of marketing at Experience Grand Rapids.
“Once you have completed your digital passport and have completed eight check-ins, you can become an official Brewsader and we send you a T-shirt or you can pick one up at Founders [Brewing Company]. We have had thousands of people who have done this from all over the world,” Korn added.
By downloading the Beer City Brewsader app on their phone, travelers can track how many breweries they have checked in at, working toward earning Brewsader swag, such as a T-shirt. Korn noted that some of the more popular breweries people can visit as part of the Brewsader program are Founders Brewing Company, which is located downtown and typically the most well-known Grand Rapids brewery since they distribute their beer all across the United States, as well as Brewery Vivant and Mitten Brewing Co., both not far from downtown.
“I think a unique aspect of our craft breweries in the Grand Rapids area is that many of them are also restaurants. They focus on a whole lot more than just the beer that they’re making, they are also focused on pairing that with interesting food combinations,” Korn said. “That gives you several hours after your golf game to relax, enjoy some cuisine, and also some local beverages.”
Within the downtown Refreshment Area, patrons can purchase alcoholic beverages at participating pubs, breweries, restaurants, and entertainment venues, then carrying the drink throughout roughly three square-miles of downtown Grand Rapids, viewing major sights such as the Grand River, Calder Plaza, historic buildings, and outdoor artwork and sculptures. Generally, the downtown Refreshment Area includes the Central Business District, the Hotel and Arena districts, the Monroe North neighborhood, and the Bridge Street corridor. Groups enjoying the district can be guided by orange border signage on sidewalks and light posts.