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America's Summer Golf Capital

America's Summer Golf Capital

Northern Michigan is Buoyed by 7 Resort Properties and 22 Spectacular Courses

By Glen Turk

It only makes sense that a collection of courses in Michigan near multiple bodies of water should subscribe to the theory that a rising tide lifts all boats. So when three prominent resorts (BOYNE Golf, TreeTops Resort & Crystal Mountain Resort) started America's Summer Capital in the mid-1990s, their leaders knew the collective marketing power would be a huge benefit.

"Working together allows us to develop more meaningful partnerships with local visitor bureaus, regional airports, and the State of Michigan to attract golfers to Northern Michigan," began Ken Griffin, Boyne's director of golf sales and marketing. "Michigan has over 650 public courses and the quality of these courses make each of our members work hard to stand out in a state that is fortunate to have so much incredible golf. Make no doubt we are competitors for each golfer choosing a trip, but if we can increase the number of golfers looking at our America's Summer Golf Capital courses as an option, we all win and so does the golfer choosing to play our courses," concluded Griffin.

Today, America's Summer Golf Capital (ASGC for short) consists of the above charter members plus Grand Traverse Resort and Spa and A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort. When viewed in totality, ASGC's scope is dominant, as local and traveling golfers can experience 360 holes over their 22 combined courses. And trust me, after a whirlwind 4-day late summer trip, I can tell you no two properties are remotely the same.

Our journey began at BOYNE Golf's newly renovated The Highlands resort and a round at the Grand Dame of Northern Michigan Golf, The Heather. Designed by Robert Trent Jones. Sr., was named the National Course of the Year by Golf Course Owners Association in 2019. The 56-year-old gem has stood the test of time and in my humble opinion is the best walk-in-the-park experience BOYNE Golf has to offer. Plus, the 482-yard, par-4 18th is as photogenic as it is exhilarating! Plus, it's the only hole I know of where a local rule has been enacted to give golfers a free drop if they hit their tee shot in the massive pond. (If you don't believe me, lift up the bench on the tee box.)

We then ventured to Bay Harbor Golf Club, another prominent BOYNE Golf property located 15 miles southwest in nearby Petoskey. Bay Harbor GC consists of 27 holes divided into three nines, The Links, The Quarry, and The Preserve, designed by Michigan State Alum Arthur Hills. The Links and The Quarry were showcased on Shell's Wonderful World of Golf in 1998 and serve as the property's signature 18. Incomparable views of the coastline on the front nine Links course are then followed by bold vistas
and elevation changes within an old quarry, hence the course name. The stunning culmination of this juggernaut is the 155-yard, par-3, 17th hole, a longer,
just as memorable version of the 7th at Pebble Beach Golf Links. The adjacent Inn at Bay Harbor is one of the most impressive structures in all of Michigan and provides multiple lodging options for couples and buddies trips.

Our group then headed back to The Highlands for a thrilling round on the Donald Ross Memorial course, which serves as a living tribute to the architect's finest holes. Boyne's staff and architect Ray Hearn have been busy the past couple years, as holes #1 and #15 have received facelifts and now rival the originals at Seminole GC and Aronimink GC respectively. If you are a golf architecture history buff, then a round on the Donald Ross Memorial is a must!

Speaking of prominent designers, The Bear at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa was designed by Jack Nicklaus and has maintained its reputation for difficulty and brilliance since it opened on June 17th, 1985. "Thepeople who play here are going to have a challenge and also have some fun, whatever level of golfer they might be," Nicklaus said at the time. "With rolling land, trees, lakes, streams and flatland, you have a mixture of different features that you rarely see on one course. That's what makes this course unique," concluded the 18-time Major Champion.

After The Bear came The Wolverine, a thoughtful Gary Player design, and Spruce Run, an underrated William Newcomb masterpiece. Plus, Grand Traverse Resort & Spa is known for its 17-story hotel and conference center that rises above the prairie to boast epic views of Little Traverse Bay and some of the finest sunset viewing in the world.

A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort, which is Native American for "on the water" or "on the shore," overlooks the 3rd most beautiful lake in the world, Torch Lake, per National Geographic Magazine. Our group enjoyed Sundance, a links-style gem that is only one quarter of the great golf found at the resort. Incredibly, A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort has grown from a 30-room, single course facility in 1996 to its present day four course, 170-room, multi-dining property thanks in large part to their affordable stay and play packages and topnotch amenities.

40 miles southwest of GTRS resides Crystal Mountain Resort, complete with 36 holes, and over 250 hotel rooms, suites, condominiums, and townhomes you can call home during your visit. Both courses, Mountain Ridge and Betsie Valley, are Northwoods gems that offer stunning vistas in all directions. Betsie Valley has never looked better, thanks to a $1 million dollar plus renovation by noted architect Paul Albanese.

An hour straight south of The Mackinac Bridge is Treetops Resort in Gaylord, with its 81 holes of golf led by Michigan's only Tom Fazio designed course, The Premier. Former resort owner Rick Smith designed three of his own courses on site (Signature and Tradition) including the popular and nationally acclaimed Par 3 course - Threetops. Like Boyne Resorts and Crystal Mountain, TreeTops is a yearround sports playground featuring some of the most thrilling ski options in the Midwest.

In conclusion, America's Summer Golf Capital features strength in numbers and the opportunity for golf groups to plan multiple mini 1-2-day vacations while all being in close proximity to a legion of courses in beautiful Northern Michigan.

For more information on ASGC, please visit or by email at

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Revised: 09/27/2022 - Article Viewed 2,796 Times

About: Glen Turk

Glen Turk Glen Turk is a Wisconsin native and is the Senior Writer/Editor of Midwest Golfing Magazine. Midwest Golfing Magazine was formerly known as Pub-Links Golfer's Magazine and is a free publication distributed four times per year throughout Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, and Ohio.

His duties at MGM include writing course features, facilitating product testing, and overseeing the overall content and look of the magazine. But clearly his most important task is playing as much golf as his wife allows. Fortunately for him, she plays also and loves out-driving him even with a 60 yard head start.

Glen plays to a 6 handicap but once set a record by having his ball retriever regripped 15 times in one calendar year. It was a December trip to Guam that ultimately did him in. Finally, if you haven't caught on by now, the two most worthy weapons in Glen's writing arsenal are self-deprecating humor and pithy one-liners.

My signature line, "Be A Force on The Course" and now more recently, "Hit 'Em Where They Mow!" can be reused at no charge.

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