Michigan's Gaylord Golf Mecca
The Perfect Golf Getaway
By Dave Daubert
Having traveled around the country to many fine golf resorts, I was quite amazed at the amount of golf and the quality of the courses when I made my pilgrimage to the Gaylord Golf Mecca. This golf destination in Otsego County, Michigan with unmatched natural beauty, spectacularly designed golf courses and friendly and warm hospitality is situated on the northern part of the lower peninsula and is second to none. Count 'em, 17 golf courses with over 100,000 rounds, 21 lodging partners with over 1400 rooms and easy access from Interstate 75.
Starting in late April through October, the Gaylord Golf Mecca's gorgeous rustic woods and water paradise is home to the best in recreational activities where the summer days continue into the night(the sun sets at 10 pm). What it lacks in playable days the Mecca makes up in plentiful golf. You don't celebrate 35 years without doing a lot of things right. This cooperative marketing association of courses and a variety of accommodations all works for the benefit of golfers who come to visit and play.
Here are some of the 17 reasons to visit and play the Gaylord Golf Mecca:
Treetops Resort is home to 81 holes of exciting and challenging championship golf; the nine-hole Himalayas putting green, Threetops 9-hole par 3 course-probably the most challenging and beautiful 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 by RTJ which could easily host 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.
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 longtime Wolverine State 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 finest values in the northern lower peninsula.
The Lakes of the North is located in Mancelona where I played one of the best 18 hole tracks in northern Michigan with PGA Head Professional Rob Diroff. The course opened in 1968 as a 9 hole country club design by another Michigan architect, Bill Newcomb. Jerry Matthews 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 the ball in the short grass and dry with smart approach shots. The course comes complete with a landing strip for small planes where buddies' groups can fly in, play golf and make it home for dinner.
The Garland Lodge & Golf Resort in Lewiston offers 4 superb and uniquely different 18 hole courses to enjoy. Exceptional friendliness abounds from the owners to the staff at Garland. My morning round was on the newest of the quartet, the Fountains, which is ranked as #12 in Michigan by Golf Advisor. Originally designed by Roy Otto in 1995, the course was reimagined by Mike Benkusky in 2010 and has a 6-6-6 layout
with an equal number of 5s, 4s, and 3s. Beyond the merely famous, there are legends, and Garland is indeed
a treasure of golfing art. I really wanted to play more here.
The Gaylord Golf Club was founded in 1924 and is one of northern Michigan's oldest courses. This semi-private club's course meanders through the hills and hardwoods featuring strategic bunkering and arguably the best greens in the state. With a healthy membership, the course is a classic parkland design reminiscent of the early 20th century Ross designs featuring close proximity from greens to tees. This piece of green velvet is probably the best-conditioned layout in the Mecca.
JT Aude, a 40 year PGA veteran, is the head professional at Gaylord Golf Club and the newly elected CEO of the Mecca. JT commented, "2020 & 2021 have been exceptional years for the Mecca with golf being the perfect recreational activity during covid. Our visitors have come from Florida, Texas and different places around the country." With easy access from the Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, golfers can get flights on American, Delta, United and Allegiant and be in Gaylord in less than an hour. Aude added," Especially direct flights from the hot climates sending us golfers who want to play 2 rounds a day in comfortable summer weather and extended hours."
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 Hilltop Lodge for two nights with a very spacious and comfortable room and dined at their Pontressina Restaurant with great service and delicious food.
The Gaylord Golf Mecca won't empty your wallet. The cost of golf at the different courses is similar to what I would pay at home for a quality round at my local clubs. They have fine local fare in your choice of 40 restaurants and golf clubs. We enjoyed some extra special meals and friendly service at Bennethum's Northern Inn, Hunter's Grille at Treetops and Big Buck Brewery.
Take your next golf vacation to the Gaylord Golf Mecca. You won't be disappointed.
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Revised: 01/25/2022 - Article Viewed 1,049 Times
About: Dave Daubert
David has been writing about golf since the turn of the century. He was Managing Editor at a regional golf magazine for 11 years, published in Canada, the IAGTO and a Staff Writer for The Georgia Golf Trail. His insightful perspective brings golf to life.