One of the great golf vacations available is the Wisconsin/Michigan extravaganza. I recently returned from a week of 36 holes a day in the upper Midwest. More information on this amazing golf vacation option will be described in a future post, however, some comments on the recent trip are in order.
The cornerstone of this extravaganza is the Kohler experience. Comparatively affordable, the Dye-abolical package is one of the most compelling available. The package includes rounds at the top 10 Straits and Blackwolf Run River courses, as well as unlimited play, subject to availability, at the Irish and Blackwolf Run Meadow Valleys courses; both top 100 venues on their own. If you need something different, The Bull at Pinehurst Farms offers a low cost, local top 100 (Golf Digest) experience. Unfortunately, due to next year’s PGA Championship at the Straits course, there is reportedly limited availability. You might have to defer to 2016, unless you are willing to risk the swing season. But wait, there’s more. Erin Hills, the devilish links course that is scheduled to host the 2017 U.S. Open, is only an hour away. This venue is a bit more expensive and you will probably need a caddie, but offers another awesome experience.
The truly remarkable thing about the Kohler Experience is the wide range of golfing options. The Straits and Irish courses at Whistling Straits are both links designs, with the former heavily influenced by Lake Michigan to the east. (This contrasts very well with Arcadia Bluffs in Michigan, which is bordered by this Great Lake on the west.) The Blackwolf Run courses meander through forests, farms and along wide rivers, with plenty of well-placed lakes. You will not lose very many balls on Straits or Irish, but plan to bring a few extra for the River and Meadow Valleys venues.
After the intensity of five great rounds in 2.5 days, we made a beeline for the S.S. Badger to ferry across to Michigan, where more intense golf awaited. First stop was the “must play” Arcadia Bluffs venue. This links design offers 18 holes, all with views of Lake Michigan. Our group had a split decision as to whether Arcadia Bluffs or the Straits course were the superior layout. Suffice it to say, each should be on the golfer’s bucket list.
After the early morning round, we headed north to check out several top venues in the Petoskey area. In order to satisfy our resident golf historian, we knocked it around in the afternoon at the Belvedere Golf Club, one of the oldest venues in Michigan, and reportedly where Tom Watson honed his skills during the summer months. Opened in 1927, the course has a rich history and plays surprisingly tough, however, did not match the dramatic morning round.
We then checked in at Boyne Highlands, which offers one of the best golf packages available. As part of the package we played the Links/Quarry nines at Bay Harbor Golf Club as well The Heather; a Trent Jones top 100 layout (Golf Digest). Unlimited golf at several other enticing venues were included as part of the package. You can also make a run to Forest Dunes deemed by many to be the top public venue in Michigan. This top 100 course is outstanding, however, Arcadia Bluffs and Bay Harbor are tough to beat.
It is impossible in one post to fully describe this amazing vacation opportunity. Additional information will be forthcoming as the 2015 season gets closer.
Weekly Observation: I feel bad for all of my Midwest and East coast friends who are now at the tail end of the golf season. What do you do for the next six months? My suggestion is to check out my Golf Addict’s Vacation Guide, posted on August 5, and book your trip to Hawaii.
By Paul Laubach
Paul Laubach is completely unqualified to provide expertise with respect to golf course rankings and design, however, he is a highly opinionated golf addict who believes everyone should be entitled to his thoughts. He is in the process of completing the story of his journey to play America’s top 100 courses. Please visit this website regularly for more (im)practical information.