Great Lakes … great golf! There’s no other way to say it.
With more than 3,000 top courses to choose from (three times as many as Florida), a climate that doesn’t have you frying on the fairways, affordable rounds, strong Ryder Cup connections, and scenery that could prove a distraction to your driving, the Great Lakes states have it all.
Take Michigan, for example, one of the leading states in the country for the number of new golf courses. The National Golf Federation says Michigan has 825 courses to choose from, such as…
The Tullymore Golf Resort in Stanwood, central Michigan – which was named No 1 golf resort in Michigan by readers of Golf World magazine in 2010 – has two nationally-awarded golf courses, St Ives Golf Club and Tullymore Golf Club, with unique layouts and stunning scenery.
The Sweetgrass Golf Club in Harris, Upper Peninsula, is owned and operated by the Hannahville Indian Community and holes are named after, and pay homage to, Indian legend. And the Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Midwest Michigan, is a Jack Nicklaus Signature course that is located along the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan. The state also hosted the Ryder Cup in 2004, at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield.
Ohio, too, has more than 800 private and public courses. At the central-Ohio Longaberger Golf Club in Nashport, the 565yd-long, par-5 fourth hole drops 150 feet from tee to green, while the course itself combines panoramic natural beauty, rolling hills and immaculate playing conditions.
There are more breathtaking views at the 27-hole Shaker Run Golf Club in Lebanon, which is a big favourite with both locals and visitors impressed by the Bentgrass tees, fairways and greens. The Avalon Lakes course at the semi-public Avalon Lakes Golf and Country Club in Warren is a parkland layout designed by world-renowned golf-course architect Pete Dye.
There’s another Great Lakes Ryder Cup link in Illinois, where the event was staged in 2012, at the (private) Medinah Country Club in Chicago. Founded in 1924, it has staged many prestigious tournaments, including PGA Championships and US Opens, since then. With around 640 golf courses (approximately 450 of which are public), Illinois is certainly golfing territory. Visitors from Scotland will feel at home at the Conway Farms Club in Lake Forest, north of Chicago, which is ‘designed around the traditions of Scottish links golf’, while the Cog Hill Golf & Country Club, south-west of Chicago, has four championship golf courses.
Minnesota, too, has no shortage of courses (more than 500 at the latest count) and at the Brainerd Lakes Golf Trail – voted ‘one of the top 50 golf destinations in the world’ by one golf magazine – there are more than 180 holes to play.
There is another Ryder Cup link here, too, with the event scheduled to be staged at the magnificent Hazeltine National Golf Club in 2016. And as far as public courses are concerned, The Classic at Madden’s Resort in Brainerd, The Quarry at Giants Ridge in Biwabik, and The Wilderness at Fortune Bay, Tower, are reckoned to be the three best in the state.
Looking further into the future, Wisconsin also has a Ryder Cup connection, with the teams from the US and Europe going head-to-head in 2020 at Whistling Straits in Kohler, which has two courses – the Straits and the Irish.
North-west of Milwaukee, Erin Hills Golf Course in Hartford is a public course that will host the 2017 US Open, while Lawsonia at Green Lake, which dates back to 1930, has 36 holes of championship-quality golf – the Links Course, with gently rolling terrain and 90 steep bunkers, and the Woodlands Course, with tree-lined fairways and about 80 traps.