Island Resort and Casino in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula already has a terrific course in Sweetgrass (see my Sweetgrass golf course review here) and is now adding a second: Sage Run.
Like Sweetgrass, the name pays homage to Potawatomi tribal traditions:
“We selected sage because we wanted to highlight another of our four traditional tribal medicines – along with cedar, tobacco and sweet grass,” says Tony Mancilla, Island Resort and Casino General Manager and a tribal member. “The word ‘run’ in the name references the 10 holes that traverse significantly downhill on the course.”
Also like Sweetgrass, Sage Run is designed by Paul Albanese, whose firm, Albanese & Lutzke is building the course. The pan is to have a soft opening in the Fall of 2017 and a grand opening in 2018.
The course is built over and around a drumlin — a glacially formed geographical formation typically shaped as an elongated oval hill.
“Our goal was to use the drumlin so that golfers interact with it throughout their round,” says Albanese, a Harvard graduate who has designed and helped build courses worldwide. “We’ve been able to do that by routing down the drumlin in a number of places, and they’ll be really dramatic holes we believe players will enjoy immensely.”
Mancilla says Sage Run “will be a resort-style course with Sweetgrass being more of a championship-style design. Golfers who play both will experience two very different designs with very different terrain. Whereas Sweetgrass is a prairie-style course with rolling, fescue-lined fairways, Sage Run is 75-percent tree lined with holes running up and mostly down the drumlin.”
Sweetgrass is host course of the Island Resort Championship, a Symetra Tour “Road to the LPGA” tournament.
Some of Sage Run’s more noteworthy design aspects include furry-edged bunkers, a number of short par-4’s – some with blind shots to greens that can be reached by tee shots carrying past the rise in front of them – and single-row irrigation, which elicits changing turf as it nears fairway edges and into the rough.
“When we discussed what style and character we wanted to create at Sage Run, we used Royal County Down as our original inspiration,” says Albanese, referring to the acclaimed Northern Ireland golf club that is rated among the world’s finest. “Sage Run will have that kind of rough and tumble appearance, with lots of earth tones, browns and tans – it’s what the landscape calls for.