Tag Archives: golf resorts

Grand Traverse Resort & Spa

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

There’s no shortage of great golf courses in Northern Michigan competing for your golf dollar. With three championship courses on property, The Bear, The Wolverine and Spruce Run, Grand Traverse Resort & Spa is an easy first choice for a golf getaway.

Gary Player's The Wolverine at Grand Traverse Resort
Gary Player’s The Wolverine at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, Michigan

The newest course of the trio, The Wolverine, is the only Gary Player-designed course in the state of Michigan. Appropriately named for the cunning Michigan forest-dweller, Gary Player’s signature course, The Wolverine, offers a true north woods golfing experience where each nine presents its own challenges. The course winds through water and wetlands on the front nine, and highland terrain with hardwoods and views of Grand Traverse Bay on the back nine.

Thanks to the versatility and playability of the track coupled with four sets of tees on each hole, more players can enjoy golfing this certified member of the Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program.

After playing The Wolverine, the helpful attendants will store your clubs overnight so you can tackle the famously tough Jack Nicklaus’ Bear course the next day.

Hole One on The Bear at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa
Hole One on The Bear at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa

The first hole on The Bear, a 364 yard par 4, is an easy par if you stay out of the moguls but after that, pars are hard to come by. Visually intimidating forced carries and water hazards on 14 of 18 holes make this course a challenge. The beautiful finishing hole plays downhill back to the clubhouse with another carry over water to a large green.

Even if you’re leaving the next day, the golf staff will store the clubs overnight so you can take off and grab a swim before dinner. The Grand Traverse Resort also offers a fast,free shuttle service to their private beach club on Lake Michigan, just minutes down the road.

The perfect antidote to a grueling workout on The Bear is the popular 100-minute Grand Traverse Body Renewal massage/exfoliation combo that starts with a gentle exfoliating scrub followed by a Vichy warm water shower. Next comes a relaxing massage, that combines hot stones with a signature massage oil, infused with the calming benefits of wild birch and wintergreen grown in Northern Michigan. As you drift away in a warm linen wrap, the therapist provides a soothing neck, scalp and face massage.

Spruce Run at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa
Spruce Run at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa

The third course on site is Spruce Run, designed by Bill Newcome and named for the many spruce trees lining its long fairways. The par 70 course, renowned as a Michigan Open tour venue from the early 1980s,  plays 6304 yards from the blues with a slope rating of 134.  All three courses are meticulously maintained and the Player Assistants keep the groups moving smoothly.

Grand Traverse Resort and Spa Packages and twilight rates offer exceptional value while themed golf events throughout the year add to the enjoyment of the rounds.

State Theater Traverse City, Michigan
State Theater Traverse City, Michigan

If you’re looking for a break from golf, downtown Traverse City is well worth a visit for good local dining, craft beers and shopping for local goodies. Further afield, check out the clear waters, high sand dunes and beautiful walking trails of Sleeping Bear National Park on Lake Michigan. If you’re a U.S. citizen over 62, pick up a lifetime US National Parks pass for $10.00.

Golf Horseshoe Valley

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Just as McBroom and Cupp took advantage of Muskoka’s natural gifts to create Deerhurst Highlands,  noted “hands-on” designer, Rene Muylaert and his protégé, Sean Watters, created two very different courses from a series of horseshoe – shaped hills near Barrie, an hour south of Deerhurst.

Horseshoe Highlands, on the Globe and Mail’s “Top 50 Best Courses in Canada” list, hosted a Canadian Tour championship in 2006. The course reflects the minimalist design esthetics of both men who planned the holes very carefully to move as little soil as possible.

Hole 1 Horseshoe Highlands
Hole 1 Horseshoe Highlands

The opening downhill par four, ranging from 286 to 316 yards, tempts big hitters to go for the green. The rest of the holes on this scenic front nine, completed by Watters in 2002, play longer thanks to sloping fairways, sprawling sand traps and perception – altering backdrops that challenge the most skillful player.

Excellent views of Barrie, Collingwood, Orillia and Georgian Bay await players at the par-4 elevated 5th tee, the hardest hole on the course. Most shots to the raised green will catch the elephant-backed fairway rolling balls off course.

Like most of these holes, length trumps accuracy; take more club than what your eyes and distance markers suggest. The par-4 14 th, the best hole on the maturing back nine, demands a shot to the right rough to outwit the hillside fairway that kicks balls sharply left into the trees.

Driving west on Horseshoe Valley Road from the Highlands Course you’ll see some of the best holes on the older Valley Course which, engulfed in maples, makes for a colourful autumn round. Opened in 1974, it’s a favorite with walkers who appreciate the parkland setting that backs onto Copeland Woods, home to curious moose, cougars, wild turkeys, deer and rabbits.

Horseshoe Valley Par 3
Horseshoe Valley Par 3

The tight fairways, lined with mature trees require strategically-targeted shots to avoid low-hanging branches on the many short, dogleg par fours. Players get a break on the scenic par-4 15th where all shots feed down to the hole. You’ll rarely see a straight putt on any of these greens.

The round ends with the best hole on the course, a par-5 played from an elevated tee, complete with panoramic views of the valley and a fairway that cuts sharp to the left and out of If you don’t have time to play both of these excellent tracks, play the front nine of Horseshoe Highlands and the back nine of the Valley course to experience the best of Horseshoe Resort golf.

When visiting the Simcoe region of cottage country, don’t miss the opportunity to play these beautiful and challenging tracks by notable Canadian golf course designers.