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True Spec Golf – A Club Fitting Experience Like No Other

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I used to think that club fitting was only for the touring pros, or for golfers who took the game way too seriously and had more dollars than sense. It was the last step in the process. First, you take lessons until you perfect your swing. Then hit a lot of balls until you find the perfect set of clubs. Then you have them fit so you can make that perfect swing every time. Then you play them until your swing changes and you start the process all over again. Boy, was I way off base.

Regardless of whether or not my feelings were correct – odds are they weren’t – the entire golf equipment industry has come a long way. I always thought that when drivers hit their maximum allowable size (460 ccs) that would be the end of it. But actually, that was just the beginning!

Nowadays we can change the loft, change the lie and in some cases, change the length of our golf equipment with just the turn of a screw. It seems the only thing constant anymore is change.

Much like a tailormade suit makes you look and feel your best, the same is true for golf equipment that is custom fit. A few years ago, I was approached about having a set of woods and irons custom fit and I jumped at the chance. In fact, over the years I have been fit for everything but wedges, which are perhaps the most important scoring clubs in the bag. So, when the folks at True Spec Golf offered to fit me for wedges, I jumped at the opportunity.

True Spec Golf has been around since 2014 and is based in Scottsdale, Arizona. In the past couple of years, the company has grown significantly and now has nearly 30 studios around the world. They offer just about every golf club head, shaft, and grip available. With more than 35,000 combinations of shafts and heads from more than 30 of the industry’s top brands and manufacturers, if they don’t have it, you probably couldn’t hit it well anyway!

Something else you should know, the people that are fitting you are most likely PGA professionals who know a thing or two about the game. This proved invaluable when trying to figure out the right bounce on a sand wedge to improve my bunker play.

I arrived at the David Ledbetter Academy at ChampionsGate in Orlando, FL to meet with my club fitter Ryne. We reviewed my pre-fitting survey and discussed what I expected to get out of our fitting session. We talked about my wedge play, how I liked to flight the ball, spin (or lack thereof), etc., and then started talking about club heads and shafts. Ryne took my wedges back into the shop to get some measurements while I went to the range to hit some balls and get loose.

Ryne returned to the range loaded with data and what he thought were some better wedge options than what I currently had. I hit some more balls with him and the TrackMan unit with my clubs and then started hitting the wedges he had put together: Vokey 52, 56, and 60 degrees with Nippon Modus shafts. We changed the heads a few times, Cobra Snakebite and Edison, and tried some different shafts – Project X, True Temper, and KBS – but in the end, the Vokey/Nippon combination was the combination that felt the best, sounded the best, and had the tightest shot dispersion. We moved over to the green area and hit some short chip shots, working on spin control and then over to the bunker to see what performed best out of the sand. In the end, the Vokey wedges with Nippon Modus shafts performed best in all three areas making the choice easy.

Once this process was completed, my “specs” were sent to the home office in Scottsdale where all of the clubs are assembled. They go through a pre-build phase where all of the components are inspected by a master club builder. Each club is then “dry built” to ensure proper CPM and swing weighting, among other details based on Ryne’s recommendation. Because no golf shaft is perfectly straight or perfectly round, all new orders are put through the SST PUREing process which analyzes the structure and identifies the shafts most stable bending plane or neutral axis. This process is typically used by touring professionals and low handicappers. Then each club is carefully assembled and is once again tested and measured for CPMs and swing weighting. The whole fitting/building/shipping process usually takes 4 – 5 weeks.

Once my new Vokey wedges arrived, I immediately headed to my local club to try them out and put them through their paces. I hit several buckets of balls working on distance control, ball flight, and spin and they were everything I expected. I see lower scores in my immediate future!

If you want to take your golf game to the next level and be custom-fitted for golf clubs, give True Spec a call. They have locations across the USA and around the world. Visit them online at www.truespecgolf.com.

MCC PLUS 4 Align Golf Grips – The Best of Both Worlds!

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Golf Pride is probably the best-known grip in golf. The company has been around for over 70 years and is considered by many to be the global leader in golf grip innovation. After all, they invented of the slip-on grip and introduced groundbreaking advancements in cord technology with their new Brushed Cotton Technology (BCT®) and the introduction of the hybrid category of grips.

Today, more than 80% of Tour professionals choose to play Golf Pride grips and no one is paid to do endorse them.

A few years ago, Golf Pride introduced the MCC Plus4 grip, which was a “hybrid” of their popular Multi-Compound grip, with 4 extra wraps on the lower part of the grip. The MCC PLUS4 was the first new grip model to win a Major. I believe Phil Mickelson was involved in the design, the premise being that these extra layers of tape allow for lighter grip pressure and more power. I played them on my irons for a couple of years, until the ALIGN grips.

A few years later, Golf Pride introduced their new ALIGN technology, a thin raised strip on the underside of the grip. This strip aids in more consistent hand placement to square the clubface and improve your swing consistency, every time. It’s a brilliant innovation – as long as your grips are put on straight, you should have the clubface in the right position. I played them until last weekend.

This year, Golf Pride did me a huge favor; they incorporated the ALIG technology into the MCC PLUS4. It’s the best of both worlds. This new grip also has Golf Pride’s exclusive Brushed Cotton Cord, which fuses moisture-wicking cotton fibers into a new soft rubber material for added stability in all kinds of weather conditions. I cut off brand new grips because I couldn’t wait to put them on. I’ve played with them several times and love the feel and different textures. I can’t see ever playing with another grip.

Golf Prides MCC PLUS4 ALIGN grips are available in standard and oversize as well as a variety of team colors. See them all at www.golfpride.com.

Lake Tansi Golf Course – Arguably Cumberland County’s Best Collection of Par 3s

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I have been blessed to play a lot of golf around the country. Our travels include playing at daily fee courses, private clubs, and resorts. Without naming names, we have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly and there have been a handful of courses I would consider joining if I lived in the area. Given all of our travels, I would have to say that the best-conditioned and best-maintained daily fee course I have played just so happens to be my home course: Lake Tansi Golf Course in Crossville, TN.

Crossville is considered the “Golf Capital of Tennessee,” but I’m guessing they were given that moniker because of the five courses at Fairfield Glade. I don’t get out to play them much. Not to mention, I live 3 minutes from the Lake Tansi clubhouse so to me there’s no reason to go anywhere else.

The Lake Tansi Golf Course is always in outstanding condition and the course is green year-round. According to Course Superintendent Todd Matthews, the grasses at Lake Tansi are a mixture of Bentgrass, Kentucky Bluegrass and Fescue, although the exact percentages of each are as closely a guarded secret as the Colonel’s secret recipe. “Lake Tansi lies at an elevation of 1,900 feet, making the daytime temperatures considerably cooler than other areas of the state. The grasses don’t lose a lot of their color when they go dormant in cooler weather.”

That’s just one of the positives about the course. Another would be that the course is very playable, regardless of your ability. If you’re new to the game, play from the White or Green tees, you won’t be over-powered, and you’ll have a good time. From the back tees, there are a couple of holes that will challenge the best of players. Most notably Number 13, which plays over 100 yards longer from the Blue tees than from the Green; the same is true on the 18th hole as well.

To me, the holes that set this course apart from other area golf facilities are the par 3s. They may not have the pizazz or elevation changes that some other area par 3s have but believe me, they can make or break a great round. Number 3 is the first par 3 and plays 151 yards from the White tees. A back pin placement can have the hole playing anywhere from 165 – 170 yards. It’s handicapped #11. The green slopes pretty severely from left to right with bunkers on either side. Find the bunker on the left off the tee and par just got that much tougher, especially if the pin is on the left. In the event you fly the left-side bunker, the long grass behind it will have you wishing you were in the sand. I learned from one of the guys in the league I play in that your best bet with a back pin is to hit a low shot and let it run to the back of the green. It worked well for him and won him a closest to the pin that day!

Number 6 is a 172-yard par 3 and your first real encounter with water, although for most players it shouldn’t come into play. It plays over a pond and uphill and seems to play about a club longer. Out of bounds can come up quickly out to the right. Once again, there are sand traps on either side of the green which slopes back left to front right. Regardless of pin placement, up and down from either bunker can be a daunting task. Playing from the grass mounds around the bunkers is no easy task either. You’re best to just find the green off the tee and two-putt. It’s rated the toughest par 3 on the course and is handicapped #5.

Number 12 is the (supposedly) easiest par 3 on the course, coming in with a handicap of #16. From the White Tees, the hole plays 150 yards. It’s all carry over a deep valley; you can’t see the bottom of it from the tee. Out of bounds lurks on either side and the road behind the green is out of bounds as well. There’s a sand trap in the front right and a large oak tree back left that has blocked out many shots from that side. The green slopes severely from back to front so anything over the green is a tough up and down. It’s hard to stop the ball once it starts rolling. Because of the size and slope of the green, three-putts are fairly common.

Although it’s not reflected on the scorecard a lot of the golfers I play with feel that Number 15 is the toughest par 3 out here. From the White Tees, the hole plays 160 yards with a deep bunker short right and another back left. Out of bounds comes up quickly on the left; anything that side of the cart path spells trouble. The green has two distinct tiers so if you have to chip onto the green, it’s important to be on the right level.

If you find yourself in the area and are looking for a great, well-conditioned golf course that will challenge you and not empty your wallet, be sure to consider playing a round at the Lake Tansi Golf Course. Better yet, book one of their fantastic stay and play packages and make a weekend out of it. You can get more information or even book your round online at www.laketansigolf.com.

PUMA – Apparel for Everyone

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PUMA has recently added a number of pieces to their Volition Collection which pays tribute to America and supports the Folds of Honor Foundation. This patriotic organization provides educational scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service-members. The new MATTR Volition Flanked Golf Polo features PUMA’s new MATTR Fabric. MATTR stands for Materials, Technology and Research and is a performance fabric designed for the highest level of comfort no matter what the weather has to offer. It’s feature-rich with moisture-wicking, fast-drying, breathable, lightweight, and has four-way stretch. What else could you want in s golf apparel fabric? The Volition Flanked Polo also features UPF 50 sun protection woven into the fabric. The all-over camo print is sure to turn some heads. On the back of the neck there’s PUMA’s iconic CAT logo, the Volition logo and the word “America” running down the middle. This could quickly move up the ranks of becoming your favorite golf polo. The MATTR Volition Flanked Polo is available in sizes s – 3XL and in three colorways: High Risk Red, Navy Blazer, or PUMA Black.

Continuing within the Volition line, the MATTR Volition Banner Golf Polo pays homage to this great country with a Red, White, and Blue color scheme and patriotic stars and stripes. It has all of the performance features you’d expect from the MATTR fabric and the flag graphic on the chest may just have your playing partners standing at attention and saluting. Purchasing any Volition America apparel honors and supports the families of our military heroes through the Folds of Honor Foundation. This great looking polo is available in Bright White (Red/White/Blue) and Quiet Shade Gray/Black. It’s available in sizes S – 2XL.

What is more patriotic than a golf polo that pays tribute to Betsy Ross? The MATTR Volition Betsy Ross Pocket Golf Polo features all of the great technology of the MATTR fabric and adds a very subtle feature, a pocket with an American Flag on it. It’s available in sizes S – 3XL and in either Bright White or Quiet Shade. There’s a Volition Lockup logo on the back of the neck.

For those looking for something less patriotic, PUMA’s MATTR Fine Stripe Golf Polo features the ultimate in fabric technology. The stripe pattern is available in 6 different stripe color combinations and in sizes 3 – 3XL. There’s a CAT logo on the left sleeve to identify the brand.

If you want to add something a little more daring to your golf wardrobe, the Sabbatical Golf Shorts may be just the thing! They feature a bold, all-over leafy print, making them the perfect choice for everything from vacations to golf to just hanging around out on the patio. For golf, the four-way stretch fabric moves with you through every phase of your golf swing and the moisture-wicking fabric keeps you cool and dry. They are very lightweight and the elastic waistband is quite comfortable. The zippered stash pockets are big enough to hide your golf necessities and the zipper ensures you won’t lose your stuff. These great looking shorts are available in sizes S – 3XL and if you want to complete the look, there’s a matching Sabbatical Polo.

To many, Arnold Palmer was a symbol of golf. His umbrella logo is iconic. PUMA’s Arnold Palmer Collection pays tribute to the King and their AP Full Circle Short features a stretch waistband with an all-over circle print and the iconic AP Umbrella logo. These shorts are sewn from PUMA’s 73% Cotton-Woven/23% Nylon/4% Spandex fabric with plenty of stretch and good moisture-wicking properties. The color palette is nostalgic with colors of Khaki, Legion Blue, and Future Blue. Whether you’re playing a round at Bay Hill or your home course, your playing partners and those around you will get the picture. They are available in waist sizes 28-42, and 33.

PUMA has given the ladies a number of options for this upcoming golf season. PUMA’s Pounce Shorts have been around a while, which proves the point if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! These must-have Bermuda shorts are packed with style and will go perfectly with just about any top you have hanging in your closet. They have a 9.25″ inseam for extra sun protection and a half elastic waistband for added stretch, comfort and unrestricted range of motion. PUMA’s DRYCELL Technology helps wick moisture away from the skin to keep you dry and comfortable. The Women’s Pounce Bermuda Shorts are available in sizes XXS – XXL and in 8 vibrant solid colors.

The CLOUDSPUN Colorblock Golf Crew delivers an ultra-soft feel with four-way stretch, moisture-wicking and all the performance needed to play 18. And it will keep you warm on those cool mornings. It’s sewn from a Jersey material with added sun protection woven into the fabric. The Cat logo on the left hip lets your playing partners know your favorite brand. The Colorblock Crew is available in sizes XS – 2XL and in 4 color combinations: White/Navy, Blue Spruce/ Cloud Pink, Navy Blazer/Scuba Blue, and Lavender/Navy. It’s also available in solid colors. The Women’s CLOUDSPUN Golf Crewneck is also available in sizes XS – 2XL and in Bright White, Navy Blazer, PUMA Black or Light Gray Heather. Same great look. Same great feel. Cat logo on the left hem.

The Juniors Volition Camo Golf Polo is not your average camo. For starters, it’s sewn from a high-performance fabric that will keep you dry, comfortable, and protected from the sun. Secondly, the camo pattern will easily make you the best dressed in your group. Thirdly, the support you are giving the Folds of Honor cannot be beaten. Proceeds from this purchase will support the families of our American military heroes. This snazzy camo polo is available in sizes XS – XL and in a Blue/Gray camo design.

Gull Lakeview Golf Resort – Six Courses That Offer a Little Bit of Everything

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When golfers think of Augusta, their first thought in all likelihood is The Masters and Augusta National on a bright sunny day in April. I doubt it’s that small town in Michigan, midway between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. But maybe it should be because Augusta, Michigan is home to one of the largest golf resorts in the country: Gull Lake View Golf Resort. There are 108 holes within a 12-mile radius of Augusta, Mich., and offers more holes than Bandon Dunes, PGA National, or Pebble Beach Resorts. It is among the five largest golf resorts in the country. Five of the six courses have been certified as Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries since 1995.

Gull Lake View Golf Club and Resort has been owned and operated by the Scott family for over 50 years. Every day, four generations of Scotts go to work at the resort in one capacity or another. There were no big-name golf course architects called in to build the golf courses; no Tom Fazio, no Pete Dye, no Ron Garl. Gull Lake View is a did-it-themselves golf resort. Except for Bedford Valley – which was purchased by the Scott family in 1988 and with a little help from Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design on Stoatin Brae – the golf courses were designed and built by the Scotts. Renaissance helped out with the bunkering and greens on Stoating Brae, as well as doing some of the labor. The shaping and contouring of the golf course were done by the Scotts.

Darl and Letha are the matriarch and patriarch of the Scott family and were the first generation of Scotts to be involved with the property. Darl used to be the superintendent at nearby Gull Lake Country Club and the couple also owned the Gull Lake Motel. The Scotts sold the motel to get the funds to build their first course, Gull Lake View West, which opened in 1965.

Darl and Letha began work on the first of Gull Lake View’s golf courses in 1962 and three years later, Gull Lake View West was opened for public play. Gull Lake View West plays through fields and valleys, up and down hills, and around woods and ponds. You’ll encounter several blind tee shots, so course knowledge is at a premium. The back nine plays much harder than the front with considerably more elevation changes. It’s not often that a par 3 is the #1 handicapped hole on a golf course but that’s the case with Number 6. From the Back Tees, the hole plays 192 yards. The small green is protected by bunkers on either side. Your best bet is to hit your tee shot short and right of the pin as balls tend to bounce hard left. Gull Lake view will have you hitting every club in your bag at least once.

The success of their first course gave the Scotts a vision of how lucrative a Michigan golf resort could be. Knowing that they need more than one golf course to be a successful golf resort, they purchased the land across the street, and Darl and his son Charles started on their second course. Ten years later Gull Lake View East opened and has consistently earned high praise from golfers and raters alike; it has been ranked as high as Michigan’s 10th best course. At only 6,032 yards (68.9/124) from the back tees, Gull Lake View East isn’t going to overwhelm many players. Length isn’t the big factor out here, in fact, on at least 5 or 6 holes you’ll likely hit something less than driver off the tee. It’s all about playing for position and leaving yourself a clear shot and a manageable distance into the green. Number 8 is a good example. From an elevated tee box, you’re playing downhill to a small landing area. The water on the left comes into play at about 235 yards with trees on the right. Water comes into play again, guarding the front of the green. It may be one of the shortest par 4s out here but it’s also a good test of golf. Director of Golf, Dean Kolstad feels that number 18 is the toughest finishing hole of any of the Gull Lake Resort courses. It’s a dogleg right that plays slightly downhill off the tee then at least one club extra into the green, which is protected on the left side by a bunker. There’s nothing wrong with a par to end your round.

With two courses under their belt, the Scotts believed that their dream of a fabulous Michigan golf resort was well within reach. Now they needed a place for golfers to stay so Darl and Letha designed and constructed the Fairway Villas, located across the street from the East and West courses. These 2-bedroom, 2 bath villas boast fully equipped kitchens, spacious living areas, and patios overlooking the golf course. They are the perfect accommodations for groups of four to relax and enjoy everything Southwest Michigan’s finest golf resort has to offer. Since then, about 24 2-bedroom, 2-bath villas have been added which has increased the number of lodging options to 67 units.

At this point, there is no stopping the Scotts! Their next course would be located about three miles down the highway from the original two courses. Stonehedge South was built by Darl’s son Charles and opened in 1988. Stonehedge South has been included in Golf Digest’s list of the top 75 most affordable courses in the United States. There are several tight tree-lined holes to keep you honest off the tee and thinking about your next shot. The greens are well-undulated and worthy of a look from more than one angle. Although it’s ranked as one of the easier holes on the course, Number 17 has a lot of character. It’s a 478-yard par 5 double dogleg right with a fairway bunker on the left side off the tee. Woods and out of bounds on the right. A good drive down the left side past the bunker will give you the green light to go for the green in two. You’ll need to hit it high as a large tree sits about 100 yards from the green. There’s a very deep bunker that guards the front of the green, which is long and well sloped. Hit it over the green and par becomes difficult. Like all the courses at the resort, the South is well-maintained and staffed by truly friendly people. It’s part of what makes this family-owned resort so popular.

Bedford Valley was the fourth Gull Lake View course and is the only course not on the Augusta property. It’s located about 20 minutes away in Battle Creek and was designed in 1965 by William Mitchell. Bedford Valley was purchased by the Scott Family in 1988 and is known for its fairways lined with majestic oak trees, oversized bunkers, and large, sweeping greens. Since purchasing the property, the Scott family has added a complete practice facility with a full-length driving range and large putting green.

I’ve spoken with several golf pros who are familiar with Bedford Valley, and they all seem to agree that Number 13 is the hole that can make or break a round. In most cases, at least for them, it was break! From the back tees, the hole plays 496 yards; 456 from the White Tees. With water on the left and a large tree on the right, most players will not be able to hit a driver. Longball hitters may have a chance but it’s about a 275 carry over the water from the White tees. To complicate matters, the fairway is only about 10 yards wide where the trees meet the water in the landing area. A “safe” tee shot will leave about 250 yards to the green, which is guarded by a large, deep bunker about 30 tards short of the green as well as another trap front left and a third trap back right. The green slopes left to right so play your approach shot accordingly. Play smart and par or better is a possibility.

Gull Lake View’s fifth course, Stonehedge North, was designed by Charles and Jon Scott and opened in 1995. If you like golf courses with a lot of trees and dramatic elevation changes, you will fall in love with Stonehedge North. The course is made up of six par threes, six par fours, and six par fives and is wide open compared to the South Course. The front nine is relatively open and flat, while the back nine is wooded with significant elevation changes. The greens tend to be on the large side and can leave some long putts on poorly hit approach shots. The course ends with an interesting par 5; a 527-yard dogleg left. Calling it a dogleg is an understatement; the hole turns 90 degrees to the left at the top of the hill. The fairway bunker on the left side is about 200 yards off the tee, so if you can carry it off the tee, you can shave some yardage off. Fairway bunkers also come into play on your layup shot on either side of the fairway. Navigate them successfully and you’ll leave a short pitch into a green. A back-left pin position may pose a problem as you’ll have a large tree and bunker to contend with. Par is a great way to end your round.

Stoatin Brae is not only the newest course at Gull Lake View but also their crowning jewel. The course was built by the Scott family with a little input and help from Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf Company. Translated from Gaelic, Stoatin Brae means Grand Hill and since the course sits on the highest point in Kalamazoo County, it just makes sense! The course can be described in 4 words: fast, firm, and wide open (and doesn’t count)! When the wind is up, you’ll have a good idea of what it’s like to play golf in Scotland. The course plays 6,667 yards from the tips with a course rating of 71.5 and a slope of 122. You’ll have to shoot a 71 if you want to play par golf here. And it’s priced right too. It’s probably one of the best golf values in the country. There are no water hazards at Stoatin’ Brae. But what it lacks in water, it makes up for in strategically placed bunkers and challenging green complexes. And if the wind’s blowing, you’ll forget all about the lack of water. At 336 yards, the 10th hole is relatively short however as you stand on the tee, you can’t help but wonder where is the best place to hit your tee shot? As it turns out, a long drive down the left side and over the hill provides the best angle into the green. If you can see your tee shot when it lands, you’ll probably have a tougher approach shot. Several rugged bunkers guard the green.

Although the majority of Gull Lake View’s guests come from Detroit, Chicago, and Toledo, it’s not uncommon to meet golfers from Cincinnati, and Wisconsin, and Canada while you’re there. Golfers may come out to just play Stoatin Brae but once they get a feel for one of the other courses, they’re hooked! And at Gull Lake View, there is something for everyone. For more information or to book your next golf outing or vacation at Gull Lake View Golf Resort, visit them online at www.gulllakeview.com.

Tee It Up in the Greater Fort Lauderdale Area With Plenty of Options for Daily Fee Golfers

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For many, the mere mention of Greater Fort Lauderdale conjures up images of the beach, sandy shores, and spring break. And rightfully so; after all, there are 24 miles of beach with sparkling turquoise water, sun-kissed white sand, and tall palm trees waving gently in the ocean breeze.

Golf enthusiasts will be happy to know that the Greater Fort Lauderdale area is also packed with a plethora of golf courses that are accessible to the public. Deer Creek Golf Club in Deerfield Beach is one such course. Deer Creek is an upscale public golf facility with an 18-hole championship course designed by Arthur Hills. Deer Creek is known for its undulation and rolling landscape and the consistently fast and smooth TifEagle putting surfaces. The course opened in 1971 and has hosted many prestigious professional and amateur golf tournaments including the 2003 USGA Senior Open Championship, 2002 USGA Amateur Championship, and the LPGA Tour’s Mazda Classic from 1979-1984. Other accolades include “Best Golf Course in Broward” (South Florida Sun Sentinel), “Four Stars” (Golf Digest Magazine), “Top Two Golf Courses in South Florida” (Golf Magazine), and “Top 100 Courses for Women” by Golf for Women Magazine.

In addition to a challenging golf course, Deer Creek has one of the best practice facilities in the area with a full-length driving range, putting green, sand traps, and chipping areas. Deer Creek offers several challenging holes, but nothing can make or break a round quicker than the last two. Number 17 is a short par 4 that plays 335 yards from the White tees and features a large pot bunker in the middle of the landing area off the tee. If you can fly it, by all means do so but don’t push your tee shot right, or you’ll be faced with a small cluster of palm trees about 120 yards out. Your approach shot is to a small angled and elevated green guarded in front by a bunker. A back-left pin position can be tricky because the green is tough to hold and slopes to the back left. Anything long will be a tough up and down.

Number 18 is a great finishing hole and if you can hit a draw off the tee, now’s a good time to do it. From the White tees, the hole plays 388 yards. There’s a lake that guards the front of the green about 85 yards out, so choose your approach club wisely. There’s a couple of sand traps left of the green as well as water and more sand right and long. Par is a great way to finish your round.

Ever since its opening in 1971, Colony West in Tamarachas been one of the most popular public access golf facilities in South Florida. Originally designed by Devlin and Von Hagge, the Championship Course opened for the Jackie Gleason Classic – since renamed the Honda Classic – as a monstrous 7,553-yard, par-72 track. Colony West has been rated by Golf Digest to be among the 50 top courses in the United States. Shortly after the tournament’s completion, Jack Nicklaus and the Tournament Committee said the course was too tough, so the maintenance crew set about removing 52 of the 137 bunkers. The course was shortened, the nines were flipped, and the Championship Course became a 6,648-yard, par 70. In 2018, Colony West underwent some big changes including renovation of all 18 greens on the Championship Course and the practice green, as well as the renovation of all greenside bunkers.

Strategically placed bunkers protect small, well-manicured greens, requiring players to think their way around the course to take advantage of scoring opportunities. The difference between the Blue Tees and Gold Tees is almost 1,000 yards but even from the shorter distance (5,462 yards) you just can’t bomb away. Water and sand hazards force you to think about your shot or pay the penalty.

Off course renovations continue. The Clubhouse has been torn down and replaced with a 107 room Fairfield Inn and Suites that is scheduled to open in the fall of 2021. The old cart barn has been replaced with an 11,000-square-foot state-of-the-art clubhouse with banquet and meeting facilities for 250 people. The new restaurant – The View at Colony West – is open to the public, golfers, and hotel guests alike. The new pro shop recently opened and has all of your favorite logoed apparel and everything else you need for a great round of golf.

In 2013, the city of Pompano Beach brought in renowned PGA TOUR superstar turned golf course architect Greg Norman to do a renovation of the Pompano Beach Municipal Golf Course. The Greg Norman Signature Pines Course – which borders the Pompano Beach Air Park – was originally a Bruce Devlin/Robert von Hagge design. Norman did a great job and made the course very playable and enjoyable. The course currently features Celebration Bermuda grass fairways and Platinum Paspalum putting greens. The city has been grappling with the prospects of re-grassing the Pines course and has been experimenting with several types of Paspalum turf. So far, the leader is Platinum Paspalum which can be seen on the greens and the 18th fairway from about 100 yards into the green. Look closely and you can see where the Bermuda ends and the Paspalum begins. The city is also involved with The Capillary Concrete Company in the development of a sub-surface irrigation system for greens. The city has already utilized this company’s technology in other areas of the golf course and has been pleasantly surprised. If everything goes according to schedule the city plans on using the Capillary Concrete program for the Pines bunkers during the re-grassing project. Once the city completes the re-grassing project for the Pines, they will turn their attention to the Palms course.

Galuppi’s Restaurant – located at the clubhouse of the Pompano Beach Golf Club – is destined to become not only one of the area’s best eateries but also one of the most popular entertainment venues. The vision of proprietor Grant Galuppi is to create a space where visitors and people within the community can eat, meet, and mingle and enjoy some live entertainment. There’s live music just about every night and everything we ordered off the menu was delicious. Once everything is completed – sometime in probably 2025 – the Pompano Beach Golf complex will rival any other public golf facility in the state. Get out early and do a before and after and see for yourself!

Oceanic at Pompano Beach Pier is dedicated to capturing the energy of the Pompano Beach revitalization. Oceanic is owned by LM Restaurants who also own the Beach House next door. Oceanic offers indoor and outdoor seating and the ocean liner-inspired design provides an open interior with expansive and uninterrupted ocean views. Oceanic offers superior steak and seafood dishes. Their Brussels Sprouts appetizer with a horseradish and maple sauce is a must-try. After your main course, be sure to try one of Oceanic’s fabulous desserts including Key Lime Crème Brulee or Fat Elvis Pie, an interesting selection that combines all of the King’s favorites: peanut butter (ganache), banana (cream filling), and chocolate, all on a graham cracker crust.

Celebrity Chef Fabio Viviani now has his own restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Riviera by Fabio Viviani is located in Hotel Maren on A1A and is part of Hilton’s Curio Hotel Collection. The food is considered coastal Italian cuisine; to me, it was simply delicious, probably the best meal I have ever had in almost 20 years of writing about golf travel. The signature meatball appetizer (Polpetti Di Fabio) was incredible, the Salt Spring Mussels were plump and delectable and my wife’s Mishima Reserve Wagyu Steak was the best I’ve ever tasted. I’m surprised she let me have a bite! If you’re there for Sunday brunch be sure to try their new Tootsie Roll drink. It’s the perfect breakfast drink.

While in the area, you’ll need a place to lay your head at night. I strongly suggest Cottages By The Ocean on SE 3rd St. in Pompano Beach. Not only are they centrally located to several public-accessible golf courses, but they’re also a block and a half from the beach and all kinds of restaurants and nightlife. These 1940s-era cottages and one-bedroom bungalows offer full kitchens with range, refrigerator, and microwave, a complete living room, and a king-size bed. They’ve also got you covered if you’re headed to the beach with beach chairs, wakeboards, and beach toys. Owner Elaine Fitzgerald likes to greet each guest personally and when you see her ask her for some restaurant recommendations. She’s been in the area a long time and is well-connected. She has several similar properties in the area so if the Cottages By The Ocean are booked, check out her other locations.

For more information on golf in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area, go to www.visitlauderdale.com. You’ll find enough courses to keep you busy for your entire vacation and well into the next!

Hanging Rock Golf Club – The Roanoke Area’s Best Public Course

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Hanging Rock Golf Club is a challenging and fun golf course located in Salem, Virginia, about 10 minutes from downtown Roanoke and eight minutes from the Roanoke Regional Airport. The course was designed by Russell Breeden and overlooks the beautiful Roanoke Valley of Virginia. It’s surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty and guarantees golf enthusiasts of all skill levels a pleasant and exciting round.

Over the years, Hanging Rock has earned numerous Roanoke golf and national accolades, including a 3 1/2-star rating by Golf Digest’s “Best Places to Play” and one of the top 100 Must Play Courses in the Mid-Atlantic by Washington Golf Monthly magazine. Seventeen of the last 21 years, Hanging Rock has been voted “Best Golf Course in the Roanoke Valley” by readers of The Roanoke Magazine.

Hanging Rock plays 6,602 yards from the Black tees with a course rating of 72 and a slope of 137. In all, there are 4 sets of tees: White (6,007/69.7/124), Gold (5,425/66.8/118) and Red (4,519/66.6/109). Everyone, regardless of skill can find a suitable yardage and have a good time.

A lot of the fairways at Hanging Rock are tree lined, forcing either control off the tee or a good recovery game. There are five par 3s and five par 5’s which can help you gain some strokes as a couple of the par 5s are reachable.

Most Memorable Hole: Number 14, Par 4, 369 yards (upper green). This is the most unique golf hole I’ve ever played. Before teeing off players choose which green to play to. The original hole is a straight par 4, that plays longer than the 369 yards stated on the card. Tee off from an elevated tee box over a creek. There’s water on the right and if the hill on the left doesn’t bring your ball back into the fairway, it will leave an interesting lie. Your approach shot is blind and straight uphill to a triangular two-tiered green that slopes back to front and is protected back right by sand. Option 2 involves the aforementioned water on the right. Hit the same tee shot, but instead of going up the hill, the green sits on a peninsula surrounded by that water. The kidney shaped green is a lot deeper than it is wide. It’s a significantly shorter approach shot to the lower green – 100 – 120 yards – if you aren’t afraid of the water. Most of the members I spoke with prefer the original green for two reasons: they’re afraid of the water and they’re afraid of snakes. I looked and couldn’t find any.

Favorite Par 3: Number 9, 179 yards. An interesting par 3 that plays 2 or 3 clubs less because of the elevation drop. Come up short off the tee and you could easily find the creek; anything right could easily find one of two bunkers. Your best bet is to just hit it on the green, which could also win you the side.

Favorite Par 4: Number 17, 291 yards. This risk/reward hole could be your opportunity to get back in the game or put your opponents away once and for all. If you’ve got the length to go for the green off the tee, hit into the mounds just to the right of the green. Beware, there is out of bounds lurking on the left and right side. Find yourself OB and all your opponent needs to do is lay back off the tee and leave a full wedge into the fairly flat green. This is a great place for you – or your opponent – to make a birdie.

Favorite Par 5: Number 18, 466 yards. An interesting double dogleg par 5 with a blind tee shot, although there is a lot more room in the landing area than you think. Favoring the right side of the fairway is the preferred line off the tee; just not too far or you’ll never see that ball again. The lone pine tree in the distance is a good line. From there, you’ll need to decide how long of an approach shot you want to hit and play your layup shot accordingly. The green is wide and shallow and slopes from back to front. It’s protected by bunkers front right and back left. A great finishing hole.

Before your round, spend some time on Hanging Rock’s full length driving range. You can hit every club in the bag, which is good because you’ll be using them all on the course. There’s also a practice bunker and chipping is allowed on the practice green. It’s a popular place with locals to hit balls. After your round, stick around for some great clubhouse grub from the grill. They make tasty burgers and sandwiches and have all of your favorite post-golf libations.

With such stunning views of the mountains, it’s hard to believe that Hanging Rock is so convenient to Roanoke. There are a good variety of holes; each one of the five par 5s is unique and there is a good deal of elevation change. Hills on the sides of a few holes can make for some unordinary lies meaning you may need a certain amount of creativity on these shots.

A bevy of weekly golf specials make Hanging Rock affordable for anyone. “Super” Tuesdays are a 2 for 1 day; just $44 for a twosome, including cart after 11 AM. Juniors, age 17 and under are free with paying parent on Saturdays after 12:00PM and if both parents play, the second is half price. Sundays are Jack and Jill Sundays. couples play for $44.00 for 18 holes, including cart after 11:00 a.m. After 3:00PM the rate drops to $30.00 per couple. And every day is Senior Day, where seniors 55 and older receive a $3.00 discount off Hanging Rock’s normal green fee and cart rate until 12:00PM. They also receive a 15% discount on fountain drinks and prepared food in the grill.

Hanging Rock has some great membership options that will let you take advantage of this great course as often as you like. The Hanging Rock Player’s Card gets you reduced green fees throughout the year as well as ½ off on range balls and more! The Hanging Rock Play Pass gets you unlimited complimentary green fees all year, reduced cart fees and unlimited complimentary range balls. For younger players, Hanging Rock’s Junior Play Pass gives juniors age 17 and under the same benefits as the adult’s Play Pass. A Couples Play Pass is also available. Just call the pro shop and they can give you all the details.

Hanging Rock Golf Club prides themselves on a high quality golf course that is magnificently maintained, superb amenities and outstanding service. Their goal is to be recognized as the region’s premier golf experiences. From your first drive to your last putt, you’ll enjoy great golf conditions and fantastic views at Hanging Rock Golf Club. To find out more about the course, lessons and camps, the pro shop staff or how to have your next business or personal Roanoke golf outing at Hanging Rock, visit them online at www.hangingrockgolf.com.

Rarity Bay Country Club – There’s Nothing Else Like It!

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Over the past 10 years, I have been blessed to visit, play, and write about some incredible golf courses, resorts, and destinations. While each has had its elements of beauty and challenge, nothing matches what we experienced at Rarity Bay Country Club in Vonore, TN a few weeks ago.

The 18-hole championship golf course is just one of many amenities available within this exclusive gated community. Rarity Bay sits on a 960-acre peninsula on Lake Tellico and is considered one of the premier lakefront developments in Eastern Tennessee. Within the community, there are 1,600 homesites and 10 miles of shoreline set along the clear waters of Lake Tellico, with the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains serving as a backdrop.

Homeowners here seemingly have it all: a gorgeous home in a gated community with a well-manicured and challenging golf course on one side, Lake Tellico on the other, and beautiful views of the Great Smoky Mountains. In addition to golf and boating, there’s an equestrian center with professionally maintained stables, and a lighted show arena, both managed by a staff of trained professionals, 125 acres of biking and hiking trails, and several racquet sports courts. You will be hard-pressed to run out of things to do!

The magnificent 18-hole championship golf course was designed by D.J. DeVictor and Peter Langham and is set on over 150 acres of rolling terrain. As you make your way around the layout you’ll encounter mounded fairways, significant elevation changes, and challenging putting surfaces, all while enjoying the spectacular views of the Great Smoky Mountains and Lake Tellico. No matter how good or bad you play, the views will keep you in a positive frame of mind.

From the back tees, Rarity Bay plays 6,799 yards with a par of 72. The course rating is 72.3 with a slope rating of 129 all on Bermuda grass. Our group played from the Blue/White Combination Tees (5,985/67.9/124) and found it to be very challenging from that distance. In all, there are 9 playing distances on the scorecard for you to find a yardage that suits your game. With only one par 5 on the front side compared to three on the back, the front nine is considerably shorter.

Rarity Bay has several memorable holes. The layout starts with the best view from any course I have ever played in Tennessee. Standing on the tee box, you see the golf course, Lake Tellico, and the mountains all laid out right before your eyes. It is so beautiful I couldn’t tell you much about the first hole other than it’s a short downhill par 4!

Number 2 is a picturesque par 3 over water that plays 188 yards from the Gold Tees. The green is very wide and not real deep. The water is beautifully framed by large rocks. Hit into the rocks and you can say goodbye to that ball.

Number 4 is probably the most interesting hole on the golf course and if I were naming holes it would be “Where’s the Green?” From the Blue and Gold Tees, it’s a long par 4, dogleg left. Move up to the Whites and it’s a 288-yard hole that plays straight away, once you figure out that the green is sitting significantly below the fairway things start to change! There’s a periscope to help see the group in front of you. Hit a good drive followed by a good pitch shot and this is a fun little golf hole!

Number 8 is another short par 4, playing 314 yards from the White Tees. It’s a slight dogleg left and you can’t see the pin from the tee because this green sits below the fairway. A good drive will leave a short chip shot into a green protected on the right by sand. Number 8 is a good place to make up a stroke on your partners.

Number 9 is yet another picturesque golf hole. The hole plays 518 yards from the Blue Tees, downhill the entire way. Beware of the deep valley directly in front of the green. A good drive followed by a solid layup shot down the middle will still leave an interesting uphill chip shot.

Number 10 is a reachable 486-yard par 5 that plays downhill from the tee box. A good drive will leave a decision of whether or not to try and get home in two. It will be a long iron or hybrid that is all carry into a green that slopes back to front with two bunkers guarding the right side. Come up short on your approach shot and you’ll be left with a challenging pitch shot significantly uphill.

For most players, the par 5, 528-yard, 18th hole is a three-shot hole. The hole plays around water which shouldn’t come into play until your second shot. Keep your second shot out to the left; a good aiming point is the two bunkers on the left side of the fairway. You’ll find a lot of undulation in the green which slopes back to front left. Trouble lurks around the green too; lay up short and you may still have the water in play. There’s a large swale and deep bunker behind the green if you go long so your best bet is to find the green!

Rarity Bay also has some pretty impressive practice facilities to help you keep your game tuned up. There’s a full-length driving range where you can hit every club in the bag as well as a short game area complete with sand traps and a well-manicured putting green. There’s no reason not to play your best when you hit the first tee.

After your round, you’ll want to venture inside Rarity Bay’s well-stocked pro shop to pick up some logoed gear to commemorate the occasion. They have all kinds of apparel for men and women and all of the necessities you’ll need while playing such as balls, gloves, and towels. If you’re hungry, Rarity Bay has some great food, and the Bay Bistro is a great place to grab a bite to eat before or after your round. After a complete renovation and remodel the dining room is open to members and golfers until 3 pm, after which it is available only to members. The menu is interesting, with such dishes as a Chicken and Waffle Sandwich, Breakfast Pizza, and Blackened Barbeque Salmon. If you enjoy the food, it’s just another reason to join the club.

The Rarity Bay’s Recreation Center sits adjacent to the Clubhouse and is home to several lighted tennis courts, four pickleball courts, a fitness facility, and a swimming pool. The Rec Center offers a casual atmosphere that is ideal for spring and summer activities and the perfect setting for private parties and barbecues.

Pickleball is probably the fastest growing sport in America and Rarity Bay is no exception. And why not enjoy a game while enjoying breathtaking mountain and lake views. In November 2017 Rarity Bay Country Club (RBCC) built four dedicated pickleball courts. The Rarity Bay Pickleball Club (RBPC) has created a Thursday evening event called “Dink & Dine” which is a great way to get some exercise and meet new members.

If you’re considering a move to Tennessee and love golf and boating, there’s nothing more scenic and serene than what you will find at Rarity Bay. To experience all that Rarity Bay has to offer, consider booking a Discovery Tour which includes accommodations, dinner at the Bay Bistro, and a round of golf. For more information, you can schedule a visit by giving them a call at (423) 884-3020 or visit them online at www.raritybayliving.com.

Thunder Bay Golf Resort – A Lot More Than Just Championship Golf!

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The Thunder Bay Golf Resort in Hillman, Michigan is a unique piece of property; even if you don’t play golf, you won’t run out of things to do. The entire resort encompasses about 400 acres including the 160-acre wooded Elk Preserve. The golf course was designed by property owner Jack Matthias who, by his own admission, knew nothing about building a golf course at the time. Needless to say, the course has survived since the front nine was built over 50 years ago (the back 9 was added in 1990 and the lodging in 1991), so he obviously did something right. From the Back Tees, the course plays 6,712 yards with a slope of 73.2 and a course rating of 131. Move up to the White Tees 6,346/71.5/127) and the distances are a lot more manageable. The golf course was cut from a mature pine forest and has Bluegrass and Rye fairways and tee boxes. As you make your way around this layout, you’ll see how picturesque it is. You’ll encounter some typical golf course hazards in the form of sand and water; surprisingly in Northern Michigan, water hazards seem to outnumber sand traps.

Several holes will stay in my memory bank for quite some time, starting with the first hole. This 352-yard (White Tees) par 4 starts with a semi-blind tee shot. It’s a soft dogleg left and if you push your tee shot right off the first tee, there are several trees to deal with. Left off the tee is no bargain either as there is a pond at the turn of the dogleg and a second just short of the green. A good drive down the right side of the fairway will leave a mid to short iron into a wide, shallow green that slopes back to front. Par is a great start.

Number 9 can be interesting. The hole plays only 303 yards and calling it a “dogleg” is an understatement; it’s more like a left turn. For golfers not familiar with the course, you don’t want to hit your tee shot any longer than 165 yards. Any further and you’ll be in the pond. If you don’t know any better and hit driver, you may find what used to be the tennis courts or worse yet, bounce one off the clubhouse. According to my playing partner that day, Head Golf Professional John Kuzewski, that is a reality.

The par 3 holes at 3, 12, and 18 are relatively short – 134, 122, and 115 yards respectively – and play over or around water. The par 3, 6th hole is a completely different story. From the White Tees, the hole plays 194 yards, slightly uphill, to a green protected on the right side by a large oak tree. This par 3 will test your mettle.

The back-to-back par 5s at 10 and 11 can help propel you to a great start on the back nine if you play them well. Number 10 is a dogleg left that for many will take a driver out of your hand because of the bunker at the dogleg, about 225 yards from the White Tees. It’s pretty much tree-lined from tee to green. A good drive will still leave two well-struck shots into the green. Water surrounds about 75% of the green and only the front is open. It’s a great hole to start the back nine.

Number 11 will allow you to air out your tee shot. It too is tree-lined and at 465 yards, fairly short. A good drive up the left side will leave the best angle into a green with water short and left. For pins set left of the center, add one club; right of the center hit one less.

Number 14 is my favorite hole on the golf course. It’s a 388-yard par 4, dogleg left that plays uphill all the way. A good drive that carries the pond and trees on the left will leave a long to mid-iron into a two-tiered green protected on the right by sand. The difference between a front and back pin can be as many as three clubs.

Number 17 probably has the most photographed approach shot on the course.  It’s a 365-yard par 4 dogleg right so a good drive down the left side will reward you with a clear look into the green and the opportunity to snap a picture of your own. A good drive will leave a mid to short iron approach into an elevated green with a small pond and rock garden short of it. As I found out, you get a free drop from the rocks; either that or John was being extremely nice that day.

Not many courses end on a par 3, but it is a nice change. Number 18 plays 115 yards over a water-filled ravine. Choose your club wisely, hit the right level of this two-tiered green, and make a par (or better). Anything over the green is trouble.

The accommodations and lodging at Thunder Bay Resort are second to none. They offer 34 luxury and whirlpool suites, 2-bedroom golf villas, and 3-bedroom golf chalets with 1450 sq. ft of space. All have nice views of the golf course. We stayed in one of the suites which was plenty big enough for a foursome. The front door (off the parking lot) opens to two double beds, much like a standard hotel room. Beyond that room is a separate “kitchen” area with a full-size coffee pot, kitchenware and utensils, microwave, and a mini-refrigerator. Behind that is a living room area complete with a pull-out couch, murphy bed, recliners, fireplace, flat-screen TV, and dining area. These are the perfect accommodations for a foursome! In case you have your own home with you, there is a small, full-service, RV Park just off the parking lot and only a few steps from the first tee.

Compared to other parts of the country, the golf season in Northern Michigan is relatively short. To compensate and keep a year-round cash flow, many Northern Michigan golf resorts make the transition to ski resorts as the weather changes. Being on the eastern side of the state presents several challenges. The majority of Northern Michigan golf and ski resorts are in Northwest Michigan – a natural snow belt. Much of this is lake effect snow off of Lake Michigan with prevailing winds from the west and north. While snow-making can now overcome this obstacle, the “Sunrise Side” lacks the terrain to do a successful downhill skiing facility in Northeast Michigan.

Desperate to find a solution and keep the business afloat, owner Jack Matthias and his staff came up with a unique solution: Elk Viewing! Thunder Bay’s Elk Viewing Package includes a sleigh/carriage ride (depending on snowfall), a gourmet dinner prepared by Jack’s son and a world-class chef in his own right, Spencer, and a wine tasting. The Elk Viewing Package began strictly as a winter sleigh ride event, but because of its wild success, is now offered from mid-May through the summer, fall and winter until late March. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the event.

Thunder Bay Resort has teamed up with a couple of other notable courses in the area including the Arthur Hills designed Red Hawk Golf Club and the Rees Jones designed UAW course Black Lake to create the Sunrise Challenge golf package.

When you combine a round of golf with elk viewing, a carriage ride, gourmet dinner, wine tasting, and a night’s lodging at the resort, you’ve got the most unique couples golf package available. For more information or to book a visit at Thunder Bay Resort, visit them online at www.thunderbayresort.com. If you’ve fallen in love with the area on your visit, Thunder Bay offers homesites; some are on the golf course while others are located on a mile of frontage bordering the Thunder Bay River. Give Jack Matthias a call at (989) 567-6996. Reservations can be made by calling 800-729-9375 and golf can be booked by calling the Pro Shop at 989-742-4875.

White Pine National Golf Resort – An Incredible Journey Through the Forest

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You could say that golf course design was in their DNA. Brothers Bruce and Clem Wolfrom, the designers and shapers of White Pine National Golf Resort in Spruce, MI come from hardy stock. Their father, Clarence was a longstanding superintendent at Maple Lane Golf Course in Sterling Heights, MI, and a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame. He also helped found the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation and assisted many turf professionals to get their start in the industry.

Bruce admits he has always been intrigued by the possibility of taming Mother Nature. Before building White Pine National, Bruce served as Superintendent of Treetops in Gaylord, MI, and Clem was hired as superintendent of the private Detroit Golf Club.

The biggest challenge the two faced in realizing their dream of building and owning a golf course was finding the right piece of property. Their goal was to find land that was “naturally laid out” and had the right soil and elevation. They looked at hundreds of sites and finally found a 400-acre site located in Hubbard Lake, MI. The land featured majestic white pine and oak trees, high terrain, and light sandy loam soil. The brothers purchased the property in 1991 and, after 21 months of construction and renovation, opened White Pine National Golf Resort in September 1992.

At 6,762 yards (73.0/127), White Pine National isn’t going to overwhelm many longball hitters. Move up to the White tees if you’re looking to simply enjoy yourself and have a good time: and the yardage drops significantly to 5,896 yards (68.6/118). The Bentgrass fairways and greens feature a lot of undulation and the greens run at a 10 on the stimpmeter year-round. Four sets of tees provide suitable distances for every level of player.

With all of the trees, sand bunkers, and smallish greens to keep your shots honest, the one thing you won’t find out here are water hazards, and with good reason. Bruce, who also serves as the Golf Course Superintendent at White Pine National, says that the course does not require any type of drainage system. Because of its high terrain and what Mother Nature has already provided, the turf is protected from disease and damage caused by heavy downpours and flooding. The course has only been closed once because of heavy rains since it opened, and that was only for a few hours.

The first four holes consist of 2 par 5s and 2 par 3s and can help you get off to a fast start. Or not! The course follows the contours of the surrounding terrain and the greens have been placed in very natural settings. As you make your way around the layout, you’ll be presented with shots around and through majestic hardwood and pine trees. Don’t be surprised when you see deer grazing in the fairways, songbirds singing a tune for you, and eagles soaring overhead. It’s golf the way nature intended.

Inside White Pine National’s pro shop you’ll find some of the latest equipment and logoed apparel from the top manufacturers in the golf industry for both ladies and men as well as balls, markers, and tees for your round. Consider a new polo, hat, or towel to commemorate your round!

Whether it’s a quick warm-up before their round or some solid practice time, golfers from all over the area come to White Pine National to take advantage of their practice facilities. In addition to 3 target greens on the driving range, there’s a practice putting green and a 9-hole putting course to test your skills with the flat stick. Be sure to loosen up before heading over to the first tee!

Most Memorable Hole: Number 12 is far and away my favorite hole on the entire layout and is one of the most unique driving holes I have ever played. For starters, it’s a long hole – 402 yards from the White Tees – with tall pine trees scattered throughout the landing area. If you can get through the trees off the tee, you’ll be left with a long, downhill approach shot into one of the course’s largest greens. Get used to it; you’ll also encounter a tall pine tree in the middle of the 18th fairway!

Favorite Par 3: White Pine National’s second par 5 is followed by the second par 3. Number 4 plays 132 yards according to the scorecard yet it is significantly longer because it plays uphill. The green sits well above the fairway and anything hit short will likely funnel down to a collection area. The two-tiered green is long and narrow and anything over the green or in the bunker behind it spells trouble.

Favorite Par 4: Number 16 is a fun par 4 and a great risk/reward hole Hitting it straight off the tee can pay large dividends. It’s a very narrow driving hole with trees on either side and at 251 yards from the White Tees, it is reachable. Once you reach the green and look back, you’ll notice that the hole plays downhill and that the green is surrounded by bunkers. Avoid the bunker off the tee and you should be able to post a good score.

Number 11 is a scenic par 4, and a strong runner-up for Favorite Par 4. It’s a dogleg left that plays 371 yards from the White Tees. A good drive down the middle of the fairway will leave a mid-iron into a very wide green with little depth to it. The bunkers short of the green add to the aesthetics of this golf hole. The green has two distinct tiers and if you are putting uphill to a left pin, be sure to hit it hard enough or it’s coming back to you.

Favorite Par 5: Number 3 is the second par 5 at White Pine National. This dogleg left plays 461 yards from an elevated tee box downhill to an awaiting fairway. You’ll need to be careful with your layup shot and playing it out to the right is a safe bet. On the left side of the landing area is a lot of mounding and bunkering that can add a lot of difficulty to the hole. The bunkers start about 80 yards from the green. Two successful shots will leave a short pitch shot into the green and set up a good birdie opportunity.

The RoadHouse Restaurant is a great place to unwind after your round with your favorite libation or a delicious meal. RoadHouse is open for breakfast too and their Pulled Pork Hash and Eggs are delicious as is the breakfast flatbread. Lunch and dinner selections include your usual burgers and sandwiches as well as such novelties as Smoked Chicken, Smokehouse Pork and Peppers, and a Ribeye Steak. Whatever you choose, you’re sure to be pleased.

White Pine National provides seasoned golfers with a formidable challenge and beginners with a great place to learn the game. They offer lodging on a limited basis in some tremendous local homes. Best to contact them for more information. You can reach them by phone at (989) 736-3279 or visit their website at www.whitepinenational.com.