Tag: travel

Boyne Golf Resorts: A must play, must see experience Northern Michigan facilities boasts a wide variety of designs for every taste on 120 holes

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 Quarry par 5 approach over a pond, with a cliff backstop

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.

A dramatic drop from the crest of the fairway to the 16th green on Crooked Tree

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.

Boyne Highlands

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.

Quite a view from the 13th tee of The Arthur Hills Course

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.


18 on The Heather requires a demanding, into the wind shot over the water.

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.


9th green on the Donald Ross Memorial Cour
GEARS features sensors on a golfer that collects data and produces a 360 degree view of their swings.

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.

Boyne Mountain

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







× Featured

French Lick: Donald Ross and Pete Dye at their finest

If the golf courses at French Lick Resort aren’t on your must-play list, adjust it. The Indiana boyhood home of NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird also has two layouts that are turning the hoops hotbed into a golf playground as well.

Mayakoba has something for everybody Greg Norman design course is a challenge

A nasty, into the wind par-3 skirts the ocean.

If you’re looking for a top flight golf experience as well as a great family vacation location then the tropical paradise of Mayakoba, Mexico has it all.

There’s never a bad time of year to visit Mayakoba and eachf year in November you can catch the PGA in action.

The 260-acre Fairmont Mayakoba is the just a short drive from Cancun and boasts an all inclusive complex that includes the PGA caliber El Camaleon Golf Club and a bevy of family friendly activities including bleached-white sand beaches, five fresh water swimming pools and meandering, turquoise blue waterways that are home to abundant wildlife.

“Mayakoba is quickly earning the reputation as one of the best golf destinations for the golfer who also wants to bring their family along for a great vacation,” said Jorge Franssen, Director of Marketing for El Camaleon. “There are so many things for a family to do here; we have that rare combination of golf and extraordinary non-golf activities.”

There are also seven other golf courses located within a 30 minute drive of what is known as the “Mayan Trail,” including the TPC Cancun, Riviera Maya Golf Club and the Golf Club at Playacar.

El Camaleon has become one of the favorite courses among PGA touring pros since it began hosting the Mayakoba Golf Classic in 2007.

“We have one of the finest golf courses anywhere and a great practice facility,” said Yayoi Garcia, Golf Sales and Marketing Executive with the Greg

Norman designed El Camaleon course. “We have a 70 person fulltime grounds crew which means the golf course is in perfect condition year round.”

Surrounded by thick mangrove forests and tropical jungles, with crystal clear lagoons and canals lining many holes, El Camaleon is quick to please right off the first tee of the 500-yard plus par 5. Lurking just beyond driving distance for most amateurs is a humongous sinkhole or as they’re called in Mexico, a cenote, smack dab in the middle of the fairway. Because the golf course is built on limestone, there a numerous cenotes, but none as massive or menacing as the behemoth on number one.

With all of its natural beauty, it’s hard to stay focused on El Camaleon especially on the signature par-3, 15 hole, which is nestled adjacent to the beach of the Caribbean Sea. Hitting directly into a husky wind off the ocean ups the ante for the tee shot.

The mangroves and jungles, which protect Mayakoba from destructive hurricanes, are home to an array of wildlife including more than 270 species of birds, iguanas, crocodiles, monkeys and assorted other creatures that often sun themselves on the limestone rocks or frolic on the fairways.

Like most seaside golf courses, El Camaleon features paspalum greens that putt slightly slower. The greens feature subtle, often hidden breaks, but clean contact will produce an even roll.

Norman’s design has done an admirable job keeping the features of each hole interesting.

On the 5th, a par 5 at 554 yards, is bordered on the left by a sparkling waterway and once on the green, you see a gentle pond and a row of casitas of the Fairmont Mayakoba. Mangrove stands protect the hole all along the right side.

Number three is a short, 389-yard par 4 that challenges amateurs with two forced carries over water, making it the most intimidating hole on the front side. The entire hole is collared by mangroves and the green is elevated with large, deep bunkers on the right.

Hole 16 is a monster 450-yard-plus par 4 with mangroves lurking on both sides. A generous sized green sits left to right, but has bunkers both right and left so iron accuracy is a must.

Because of the dense jungle, mangroves and water features, be prepared to say ‘adios’ to a lot of golf balls on El Camaleon. Errant shots quickly disappear, with little prospect of being found.

For help with your game, El Camaleon is home to the Jim McLean Golf School that features a full driving range, putting greens and short game practice complex.

There’s no better place to decompress from the rigors of El Camaleon than the Fairmont Mayakoba resort. A gentle 40-minute cruise of the lagoons on an electric powered boat takes you thru limestone caverns and mangrove stands. On the banks of the canals you’ll see Pacific crocodiles and numerous freshwater fowl.

One of the best stress reducers is beer and chocolate. In Mayan culture, chocolate was one of their most value possessions so at the Fairmont Willow Stream Spa, the chocolate addict can be satisfied with the Chocolate, Food of the Gods full body treatment.

Follow the treatment with the Fairmont’s Mexican craft beer tasting activity that includes a selection of four “cervezas artesanales” that embody aromas of orange, vanilla and even chocolate.

“We have perfect golf and perfect days and nights of fine dining and activities.” Said Stuart McColl, Regional Director of Marketing for the Fairmont. “It’s all here.”

× Featured

French Lick: Donald Ross and Pete Dye at their finest

If the golf courses at French Lick Resort aren’t on your must-play list, adjust it. The Indiana boyhood home of NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird also has two layouts that are turning the hoops hotbed into a golf playground as well.

Court halts demolition of Ocean Links Golf Course Injunction blocks Omni from bulldozing greens, bunkers and fairways

By Mike Lednovich, Editor

A Nassau County Judge Friday has blocked the Omni Plantation from continuing to demolish the Ocean Links Golf Course which it began bulldozing last Monday as County deputies stood guard.

“Until this Court dissolves the injunction or modifies this Order, or until the (Amelia Island) Club and the Omni agree otherwise, the Omni is enjoined and restrained from further demolishing or altering the condition of the Ocean Links Golf Course,” the order stated and was signed by Judge Steven Fahlgren.

Attorneys for the 1,400 member Amelia Island Club had filed a complaint against the Omni Plantation saying the closing and demolition of the Ocean Links Golf Course violated the 99-year operating agreement between the resort and the club.

The hole is plowed under

“The Club also has a substantial likelihood of success on the merits in this case. Based upon the allegations in the Verified Complaint it appears that the Omni is in breach of the Agreement,” the order stated. “This injunction will also serve the public interest. Preserving the status quo will protect the rights of the Club, its members, and any other individuals owning homes adjacent to the Ocean Links Golf Course. And it does not appear that the Omni will suffer any harm if its efforts to convert a golf course into green space are delayed.”

Numerous green complexes, particularly those adjacent to the ocean, have been destroyed and leveled by bulldozers.

The court said the Omni’s actions has already caused damage to Amelia Island Club members.

“The Club will be irreparably harmed if the Omni continues demolishing the Ocean Links Golf Course, and (ii) there is no remedy at law for the Club’s loss. Each day during which demolition continues will exacerbate the condition of the Ocean Links Golf Course. It appears that this will make it more difficult to restore the course to the condition described in Exhibit D to the Agreement. And until the course is restored, the Club and its members are deprived of valuable real property rights that cannot be quantified,” the court stated.

View from the Ocean Links course at Omni Amelia Island

The court said the Parties (the Omni and the Amelia Island Club) had acknowledged and agreed that it is the intention of the Parties to allow continued usage of all the Resort Amenities and Club Amenities for the benefit of the [Omni], the Club, its Members and Member Guests accompanying Club Members, pursuant to the terms of this Agreement. The Agreement’s definition of “Resort Amenities” expressly includes the “Ocean Links Golf Course”

The agreement, established in 2010, also stated “The Omni agreed to operate Ocean Links course with general maintenance and operations standards of comparable first class semi-private golf courses of similar age, circumstances and with comparable resort golf fees located on the southeastern seaboard of the United States.”

The court noted that the Omni had breached its agreement with the Amelia Island Club by:

  • Not maintaining and operating the Ocean Links Golf Course in accordance with the standards identified in  the Agreement.
  • Undertaking to destroy the Ocean Links Golf Course; and
  • Not providing the Club members two 18-hole championship level golf courses.

The next step is for the Omni and Amelia Island Club to meet with a mediator.

The Omni had begun demolition of Ocean Links unannounced to the public, saying it was converting the property into green space and committing its golf resource to its other 18-hole course Oak Marsh.

× Featured

French Lick: Donald Ross and Pete Dye at their finest

If the golf courses at French Lick Resort aren’t on your must-play list, adjust it. The Indiana boyhood home of NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird also has two layouts that are turning the hoops hotbed into a golf playground as well.