By Mike Lednovich, Editor/Publisher
I’ve played a lot of resort golf courses so I’m not easily impressed when I go out on a golf writer’s tour.
That all changed on my very first day at the Boyne Resorts in Northern Michigan.
You’ve probably read or experienced numerous golf getaways like Pinehurst, N.C., Scottsdale, Az., and Myrtle Beach, S.C. As I said, I’ve been there and done that. They’re all top quality golf resorts.
What differentiates the Boyne Resorts from other golf destinations is the variety of the 10 courses featured at Boyne’s three resort locations. And, did I mention price? The Boyne properties are among the best golf values you can find.
You can play unlimited golf on five of the 10 Boyne courses for a $139 per night stay, including breakfast. You can upgrade to a round on The Heather or Arthur Hills courses for just $21 or Bay Harbor Golf Club for $25-$75. The package also includes a $25 Odawa Casino gaming voucher with complimentary transportation provided by the casino.
There’s also a “Stay & Play Package” which Boyne designed for a short trip to the area with a nightly rate of $114 at Boyne Highlands. Included are rounds at either Alpine, Crooked Tree, Monument, the Moor or the Ross Memorial courses.
“We think Boyne Resorts is a great golf bargain,” said Ken Griffin, Director of Golf Sales & Marketing. “We have outstanding accomodations, wonderful golf courses, surrounded by awe inspiring natural settings.”
Located about an hour north of Traverse City, Boyne offers the Boyne Mountain, Boyne Highlands and the Bay Harbor Golf Club facilities — that’s 120 holes total, all about 45 minutes driving distance from one another.
Bay Harbor Club
The flagship property for Boyne Resorts near Petoskey has been selected among Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest Public Courses. The scenic Links/Quarry layout moved up eleven places to No. 73 in the 2017 rankings.
So at the Bay Harbor Club, there are 27 holes that are as different as night and day.
The Links at Bay Harbor mimics Ireland’s unforgettable seaside courses with plenty of Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay shoreline forming the backdrop of breathtaking beauty, with undulating fairways and slick putting surfaces framed by scrub-covered dunes. You experience what I call “waterside” golf from your opening tee shot on the first tee, followed by coastal holes on three, four and seven. The opening hole is a dogleg right, par-4 with Lake Michigan on the left and dunes bordered by deep fescue on the right. The approach is to a narrow, elevated green, that with the winds can be a tricky shot.
The Quarry nine is exactly what the name implies. Chiseled out of an enormous, abandoned shale quarry, the course winds thru imposing gorges, shadowed with stone faced cliffs, a lazy waterfall and deep-blue ponds. There are lots of crevices and pits around to swallow your golf ball as well as dense thickets of brush.
The tree-lined Preserve nine features what Boyne calls “a walk thru nature” with hardwood trees and a dramatic lakefront finish at 18.
The Arthur Hills design also has been ranked among America’s “Top 100 Courses You Can Play” by GOLF Magazine.
You can stay at the Inn of Bay Harbor, which was fashioned after the majestic Grand Coronado Hotel in San Diego. The Inn is rated top notch by Conde Nast Traveler. The Victorian style resort offers 123 guest rooms and suites along with 35 cottages.
“The hotel is grand and upscale and the location on the bay is unbeatable,” said Griffin. “And because it’s just four miles outside of Petoskey, it’s close enough to town, but far enough away where you get to feel that you’re away from it all.”
Thanks to Kevin Frisch of Fusion Media, we got to stay in the luxurious penthouse suite where from the wrap around balcony we took in sweeping views of the coastline.
Along with golf, the hotel boasts a full-service spa, marina, walking and biking trails, and even a world-class equine center. Just up the coast is Petoskey’s historic Gaslight District, with boutiques, toy stores, bookstores and cafes that feature Michigan’s famous cherries when in season.
For bargain hunters, there are more moderate lodgings nearby at Crooked Trees just across the Highway. Speaking of Crooked Tree, here’s another fantastic course that’s very different from the 27 holes at Bay Harbor. The course reminds me of a lot of Southern California courses, sans the canyons, with rolling fairways and uneven lies.
Redesigned in 2014, Hole 16 is of course what takes your breath away. Measuring 389 yards from the back tees and 310 from the front. From the tee you can see the expanse of Little Traverse Bay on the right. The challenge is the dramatic downhill shot to a green blocked in part by a pond front right.
One of the highlights of our tour of the Boyne properties was the The Arthur Hills Course at Boyne Highlands, especially the 13th tee.
The resort calls the 13th tee “Boyne’s Everest” because it sits atop one of the resort’s ski slopes. There’s a huge rolled fairway below, but if you don’t reach the fairway crest you’ll suffer the fate of one of our writers who saw his ball ooze backwards losing about 75 yards. The descent continues sloping to the green with the choice of going for it in two. A wonderful hole.
The round finale is a brute, a 577 yard monster of a par-5 that is reachable in two only if your last name is Johnson or Watson.
Playing 6,200 yards from the Orange tees, The Heather has a slope rating of 139 — quite the challenge. The 18th is an outstanding finishing hole, with a tee shot straight down hill, but into the wind. There’s a huge pond in front of the green that will catch the drives of long hitters. For us average Joes the decision is a bailout to a narrow area left or going for broke over the water.
Wow, but wait. There’s the Donald Ross Memorial Course. Boyne calls the course “The Greatest Hits” of Donald Ross because in a single round golfer experience Ross designed holes that represent the history and heritage of three Ryder Cups, eight U.S. Amateurs, 11 PGA Championships, and 14 U.S. Opens.
Boyne has recreated some of the architect’s most renowned golf courses, including Oakland Hills, Seminole Golf Club, Pinehurst #2, Inverness, and Oak Hill.
“They’re not exact replicas of those holes,” said Kevin Frisch of Fusion Media. “They’re Ross inspired designs from those holes that were fit into the Northern Michigan typography. It’s a very special golf course.”
Hole 9 (pictured below) replicates Hole #11 Bob O’Link Golf Club in Highland Park, Illinois. The trademark Ross elements include a beach bunker, a long grassless ribbon of sand which parallels the right side of the green and slopes sharply down to the edge of a lake.
Get Your Swing In GEARS
The Boyne Golf Academy at Highlands offers the GEARS Club and Body Tracking System. Dubbed as the ‘MRI for your golf game,’ data is recorded through a series of 26 sensors strategically placed at key spots on the body, and six more sensors on the club, along with eight high-speed cameras running at 360 frames per second. What golfers see is a 360° visual of each swing they take. Boyne Highlands is the only golf resort facility in the Midwest that offers GEARS.
Our tour didn’t include the Alpine Golf Course at Boyne Mountain. But one of the writers with us, Tom Lang, Editor/Publisher of Michigan Golf Journal had this to say in a recent review of the Boyne properties:
“Sometimes forgotten in the bevy of great course selections is the Mountain’s original Alpine Golf
Course. Try not to skip it; what a fun and playable treasure that is both challenging and attractive with views of Deer Lake, and is host site of the annual Michigan PGA Tournament of Champions. Alpine combines all the ideals of golf and spending time outdoors that golfers will want to try it again and again.
The Monument is equal to the task while starting at the top of the mountain on the backside of the ski runs and ending with its signature 18th island green in the low lands.
Accommodations and very family-friendly activities include condos, cabins, the Grand Lodge, Avalanche Bay indoor water park, beach and water sports galore at Deer Lake and a recently renovated spa where my wife kept using words like “awesome, best ever” on
several occasions.” – Tom Lang
You can read Tom’s full review of the Boyne Resorts here http://michigangolfjournal.com/2018/January/
Getting to the Boyne resorts is fairly painless with best connections from Detroit or Chicago. There’s lots of micro climates around so you’ll need to pack for sunny days, winds or chilly rounds when the winds howl in from the lake. Plan on spending a week and you’ll come away as I did wanting more of Northern Michigan Boyne golf.
For full details and packages go to http://www.boynegoff.com