Full Throttle: Preparing the Courses for a Record Golf Season | GT scene

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Call it the “COVID-19 effect,” but over the past two years the number of beginner golfers has reached record highs.

According to the National Golf Foundation, three million newcomers took to the game in 2020 as people sought out safe outdoor activities to do with friends and family. This resulted in a record 3.2 million Americans reaching the links for the first time in 2021.

Although this season started late due to a wet and cold spring, compared to last year, the golf industry expects the growth trend to continue around the Grand Traverse area. this summer.

“The last two seasons have been off the charts. It reminds me a bit of when we bought the course in 1997 and Tiger Woods burst onto the golf scene. We’ve seen an increase in interest and play around this time, but the last two years have overshadowed that,” said Mike Brown, co-owner of A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort overlooking Torch Lake in Kewadin. “This spring has not been as beautiful as last year. We opened a month later, but despite that, I expect it to be another banner year. Advance reservations are ahead of last season.

The resort features a new pro shop, wagon barn and new wagons ready for the season, as well as 200 beds in various accommodation options throughout the property.

A-Ga-Ming will host the Michigan Junior State Amateur Championship July 11-14 at the Sundance Golf Course, further boosting business.

Across Lake Torch in Bellaire is Shanty Creek Resort, which has five golf courses, including the new Hawk’s Eye Golf Course which opened last season. It also has Arnold Palmer’s Legend Golf Course and Cedar River Golf Course designed by Tom Weiskopf. All of its courses combined offer golfers 90 holes at a single destination, which ranks it among the largest golf resorts in North America.

“We’ve made many improvements to the overall look of Hawk’s Eye. Last year was our first season with. Advance bookings for all five courses are ahead of last year,” said Marketing Director Lindsey Southwell.

South of Shanty Creek is the Grand Traverse Resort in Acme, and it’s also gearing up for another great season.

“We had our best year ever in 2021,” said Tom McGee, the resort’s longtime director of golf operations. “It was a record and advance bookings are again ahead of last season. What’s encouraging is that a lot of new golfers are getting back into the game, and many are coming back after giving it up a while ago. several years. The beauty of the courses and the fact of being outside. People are discovering that it’s a winning combination.

About 20 miles south of Traverse City is Crystal Mountain. It has two golf courses, Mountain Ridge and Betsie Valley, which total 36 holes. Betsie Vally was recently renovated, offering a whole new look, according to Brittney Buti, public relations manager at Crystal Mountain.

The fairways have been widened, some of the tee boxes have been modified and trees have been removed as part of forest management which has created a links type waste area with exposed sandy ground. More fescue was also planted, she said.

“It will be a whole new experience for golfers. We are expecting another busy golf season with outings and tournaments. Many events are already scheduled,” she said. “We’ve added TrackMan 4 technology (a golf launch monitor) to the resort’s teaching curriculum, which will benefit students of all ages and skill levels.”

Crystal Mountain will host the prestigious Michigan PGA Women’s Open Tournament June 27-29, always a popular event with spectators.

The Bay Meadows family golf facility, in addition to providing a nine-hole par-three course and a full nine-hole course, also offers a learning center with “state-of-the-art” video cameras, Trackman 4 and K-Motion body monitors for their PGA instructors. teach throughout the year.

“Our mission is to make golf a fun family event,” said owner Mike Husby.

The Interlochen Golf Course also made improvements and removed several old trees, which will help the turf and condition the golf course, says owner Brad Dean.

“It paved the way for visibility and aesthetics, which will improve playing conditions,” he said. “We are expecting another very good year. It has gotten better every year since I bought it four years ago. We’ve seen more and more new golfers enter the game every year, and our local rates for area residents have helped a lot. They just show their ID and get a special local rate.

The Elmbrook Golf Course in Traverse City will be open again for 18 holes of golf, new golf course general manager Jamie Doriot has said. They are revamping the clubhouse and pro shop. They also have a full league game schedule, including night golf and golf and dinner outings scheduled throughout the summer and fall.

At Suttons Bay, just north of Traverse City, is the Bahle Farms golf course which came into operation under new ownership last year. It was a successful first season while learning a lot about the golf industry, said Melissa Orb, Marketing and Events Manager.

“It was a success despite getting into the business from the start of last season. We learned a lot along the way,” she laughed. “Last year, we didn’t have a liquor license for a good part of the season. This year the bar is open again, the beverage cart will be running and we will have more food and drink offerings in the clubhouse. We will organize several fundraising outings in addition to league matches. »

Mike Terrell is a columnist for the Traverse City Record-Eagle. He is also a member of the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA) and has been writing about area golf courses for 30 years.

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