Welcome to our first issue of 2022!

Congratulations to the winner of our December 1, 2021 Golf Up North Newsletter

Ed DiFilippo

You gave the correct answer for how many par 3 holes does The Bluff course has – 5

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We made it through 2021 and the countdown starts for the first course to open Up North for the 2022 season.

Although my last time on a course is less days than my next time on a course will likely be, there is something about hitting the new year. I know it does not make much sense, but spring feels considerably closer on January 1st than it did on December 31st.

In October I was able to check a few courses off my bucket list. This issue we will share our weekend at The Grand Traverse Resort and golfing Spruce Run and The Wolverine. We decided that The Bear would not be a good course for me to golf based on my skill level. We did not want to slow down the pace of play and definitely did not want to make other golfers mad.

 

The Grand Traverse Resort

 

Because we wanted to play a couple of rounds, we decided to make a weekend of it and booked a stay and play at the resort. We arrived Friday and was able to check in early before our 2:00 tee time at Spruce Run. With COVID affecting all aspects of the hospitality industry we were pleasantly surprised to find that The Resort still offered a wonderful experience in addition to our golfing. From dinner at Jack’s Taproom, breakfast at Sweetwater Bistro and an evening at Turtle Creek Casino down the road, we had a blast. Fortunately, my partner won back what I lost at the casino. 😊

It was a great weekend and a fantastic way to wind down an Up North golf season.

 

Spruce Run Course

Per The Resort’s website, Spruce Run was originally a nine-hole public golf course and was expanded to 18 holes in the 70’s. The course was redesigned by former U of M golf coach William Newcomb in 1979 and renamed The Resort Course.

The name was changed in 1992 to Spruce Run and modified to a par-70 course during the development of The Wolverine. The course hosted The Michigan Open from 1981 through 1984. This course is considered the easiest of the 3 courses at The Resort, perfect for a golfer with my experience.

We arrived at the starter shack a few minutes early. One of us had played the courses at the resort many times and the other one (me) had never played there. The starter explained changes to the course that my partner may not have known and gave me a few tips for trickier holes.

He also let us know that the course was hosting a scramble with a shot gun start that would be starting about 30 minutes after our tee time. He assured us that the scramble would not interfere with our play and that we would barely notice it. Other than seeing a lot of carts headed to their starting hole, the scramble was not a significant factor.

Sand AND Water Oh No!!

Most of the holes have sand and water hazards which normally does not bode well for me. Maybe because it is a par 70 course or that it was chilly and rainy, this course was kind to me.

The course is laid out differently than most of the courses I have golfed at. There was not a natural flow to the next hole. I am guessing that it starting out as a 9-hole course may play into that.

The course also did not have the typical front nine and the back nine that most of the courses I have played have. The first hole is a short distance from the clubhouse. Along the way you pass a food/beverage station and then through a little wooded area to the starter shack next to the tennis courts.

Holes 2-12 are all past the tee box of hole 1. It is until hole 13 that you have “turned the bend” and it is not until hole 18 that you are near the clubhouse again.

They have 3 restrooms spaced well in the first 14 holes. The beverage cart was out and made the rounds often. The reasons I like to have a place to stop after the first 9 were a non-issue even with the different layout.

How we did

Overall, we had a lot of fun playing Spruce Run. My partner who has golfed for a lot more years than I have found the course to have some challenging holes, but mostly an ego boost for him. For me, it was what I was expecting other than one hole that required driving over a natural area. There were a few holes that I had to drive over water. All things that usually mean a tough score. Surprisingly, I did pretty darn good and was under 100. A solid win for me. 😊

My only complaint is that the signage directing you to the next hole was not always clear. With the different layout it would have been easy to miss a few holes if I had not been with someone who had played there before.

The Wolverine Course

The Wolverine was designed by Gary Player and was his first signature course in Michigan opening in 1999. There are 4 sets of tees which allows the course to accommodate golfers of all abilities.

We began at the same starter shack as the day before, just headed off in a different direction. This course has a true front and back 9 with a clubhouse stop possible as you round the corner.

I was a little nervous about playing this course. Knowing it was a Championship course and I worried about maintaining pace of play. My fears were unfounded, I found nice open fairways, water and bunkers that were avoidable in the front 9. Hole 4 had an elevated tee box with a mess down below to hit over and my first thought was this was going to be a double-digit hole. My panic was soon replaced with some smack talk. The Ladies tee was down below and 100 yards closer to the green.

Frustrating golfers

As much as I like this course there were some frustrations. We were stuck behind 3 guys hitting multiple balls and not teeing up until the group in front of them was off the green. Very frustrating, mainly because we play “golf ready” rounds and this was painstakingly slow.

The ranger was on them and would move them along, but once the ranger was out of sight, they were back to their old ways. Short of him staying with them the entire time there was not a lot he could do.

By the time we reached the 10th tee we had been playing for almost 3 hours. I know we were upsetting the couple behind us because they kept playing up on us. It was going from what a great course and I am having so much fun to we need to get this round over with. When the group in front of us decided to have a sandwich instead of teeing up, I was over it. I am also an avid football fan and watching college ball seemed like the better option at the time. The first time I have ever left before finishing my round.

In hindsight

If I could do over again, I would have stuck it out. It was cold and rainy which did not help my mood. The annoying and slow group in front of us added to it and I over-reacted.

Reading reviews of all the courses at The Resort on various platforms the majority are positive. There are some slow play comments, but those seem far and few between. I will be back and play both courses again, our experience was one of those rare instances.

Both courses have areas that run along major roads (US31 & M72) and I was surprised that the traffic noise was minimal. The only place it was really noticeable was when we played Spruce Run. Part of the course runs along the old clubhouse on 72, but it was short lived.

The staff at the course and in The Resort were attentive, friendly and a pleasure to interact with. Because of restrictions and staffing issues not all amenities were available, I look forward to booking a stay and play package again when things return to normal.

Remember that The Resort is a destination for vacationers, corporate events, and fundraising golf outings. There are also locals who play the course, leagues and members, the course can be busy at times. People on vacation or attending the events letting their hair down and relaxing. They may not always be on their best behavior. The locals we ran into were great and showed a lot more patience than I did.


 

If you would like to find your perfect Up North golf course visit Golf Up North and if you are looking for fun things to do after your round visit Up North Entertainment for dining, lodging and things to do Up North.

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Disclosure: We never tell a course who we are when we book and play a course. We do not ask nor accept free rounds to write about a course. We pay full price for our rounds for everyone in our group.