The Gaylord Michigan area is a golf destination with unmatched natural beauty, spectacularly designed golf courses, great accommodations, and friendly and warm hospitality. Located in the heart of the northern Lower Peninsula with easy access off I-75, the Gaylord Golf Mecca is a gorgeous rustic woods and water paradise where long, summer days continue into the evening – the sun sets around 10pm, allowing for extended play on 17 of the finest golf courses in the Wolverine State. What it lacks in playable days the rest of the year, the Mecca makes up in quality golf.
Located in Otsego County, Gaylord, the county seat, and the surrounding area have a plethora of outdoor activities. During the summer, the many lakes and rivers throughout the area are the place for great family fun excursions. Whether relaxing on a lakefront beach, fishing on the many waterways, kayaking on the narrow streams, or rafting down the Sturgeon River, it is the perfect summer experience location. You can visit an Elk Farm, go biking, hiking, walk the streets of the Alpine-styled village of Gaylord, or just kick back and enjoy the comfortable weather. And they have golf where the greens stretch as wide as the sky. What could be better?
In the winter lake-effect snowfall allows visitors and residents the fun of snowboarding, tubing, cross-country skiing, enjoying the local ski slopes, ice fishing, and snowmobiling across the countryside.
This was my first pilgrimage to the Gaylord Golf Mecca, but I hope it is not my last. I had the opportunity to enjoy extraordinary golf, savor the flavors of awesome local restaurants and meet some very nice and hospitable folks.
Here are just a few of the 17 reasons to visit and play the Golf Mecca:
Treetops Resort is home to 81 holes of exciting and challenging championship golf; the nine-hole Himalayas putting green, the stunning Threetops 9-hole par-3 course, probably the most challenging and beautiful of any in the country, and four-18 hole magnificently designed layouts by Robert Trent Jones Sr., Tom Fazio, and Rick Smith. I played the stunning Masterpiece Course by RTJ. It could be a host site for a PGA Tour event – that is how good it is. What it lacks in length, it makes up in superior challenges that even the pros would cringe at.
At the end of July, Hall of Famer Lee Trevino will be back to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his hole-in-one at the Threetops Par 3 Shootout, where he won a cool $1 million+ and shared half with St. Jude Children’s Hospital. The resort, which has a variety of accommodations and dining options, hosted me for a few days and is a perfect spot to enjoy the Mecca.
The Natural at Beaver Creek is one of Northern Michigan’s best-kept secrets and sits along the shore of Otsego Lake blending itself into the beautiful surroundings. Designed by long-time Michigan golf course architect Jerry Matthews, the course, which is rated Four Stars by Golf Digest, winds through elevated forested terrain and scenic wetlands and is one of the best values in the northern lower peninsula.
The Lakes of the North is located in Mancelona where I played one of the finest 18-hole tracks in northern Michigan with Head Professional Rob Diroff. The course opened in 1968 as a nine-hole country club design by another Michigan architect, Bill Newcomb. Jerry Mathews finished the deal in 1980 cutting through forests with rolling well-bunkered fairways and fantastic bent grass greens. This layout which stretches to 7,000 yards from the tips is all about keeping it in the short grass and dry with smart approach shots. The course comes complete with a landing strip for small planes where a guy’s group can fly in, play golf, and make it home for dinner.
Garland Lodge & Golf Resort in Lewiston offers four superb and uniquely different 18-hole courses to enjoy. Friendliness abounds from the owners to the staff at Garland. My morning round was on the newest of the four, the Fountains, which ranked #12 in Michigan by Golf Advisor. Originally designed by Roy Otto in 1995, the course was reimagined by Michael Benkusky in 2010 and has a 6-6-6 layout with an equal number of par 5s, 4s and 3s. Beyond the merely famous there are legends, and the Fountains is indeed a treasure of golfing art.
Michaywe Pines, a founding partner of the Gaylord Golf Mecca, opened in 1972 and was totally renovated in 2004 by Don Childs, the original designer. The classic and playable course is known for its impeccable conditions weaving through forests along the Au Sable River. The Pines can be enjoyed walking through its corridors playing into smallish greens. Judy Mason, LPGA, is Director of Golf at Michaywe and also Chairperson of the Gaylord Golf Mecca, which is in its 34th year of promoting golf in the northern lower peninsula.
Otsego Resort is located just on the outskirts of Gaylord and home to 36 holes of championship golf. It began as a private ski club in 1939 and is still a gathering place for winter sports enthusiasts and members with a Swiss Alpine theme throughout its lodging and dining offerings. The Classic course is walkable and a great venue for fun family outings and plays around the front of the Resort. I played the Gary Koch designed Tribute golf course with the headwaters of the Sturgeon River meandering through the layout. I stayed in the lovely Hilltop Lodge for two nights with a very spacious and comfortable accommodation and dined at their Pontressina Restaurant with great service and delicious food.
The Gaylord Golf Mecca has 21 Lodging partners with over 1,400 rooms in the area. You can dine in your choice of over 40 restaurants. For great local fare may I suggest Bennethum’s Northern Inn, Hunter’s Grille at Treetops, and Big Buck Brewery where I enjoyed some extra special meals and friendly service. Make your summer a Mecca Summer.
For more information on the Gaylord Golf Mecca, click HERE.