The Michigan Golf Show in Novi, which I attended Friday night, is the area’s annual orgy of surplus golf equipment, golf course promotions and travel deals. There are more than 400 exhibitors spread out over 200,000 square feet of showroom.
The bulk of the footage seems is dedicated to retailers and course pro shops selling their surplus equipment and apparel. You won’t find much of the latest and greatest at the show, but last year’s gear is in great abundance. Retailers like Rock Bottom Golf and Michigan’s Maple Hill lead the way with this. The other major presence are golf couses, golf resorts and various travel bureaus trying to drum up business. Nearly every booth was holding a drawing for free rounds or stays in exchange for an email address. I’ve never won anything from these, but the follow-up emails usually contain a coupons which I find useful. The remainder of the space was occupied by a variety of internet-based golf services, chiropractors, jerky shops, home improvement companies and health hucksters who sold things like holographic wristband hucksters and laser neck treatment.
At the show I met a couple of old friends. The first were Todd and Michelle Grondin, who run the Bogey Golf Tour, which operates in Michigan and Ontario. I hope that I can get out to play one if their events this year.
The other was David Poole of GolfDotz. I reviewed GolfDotz back in 2008, and since then, the company has prospered, expanding its line. The current Dotz include some very nice looking metallic, including a set of skulls, which should please my friend Tony at Hooked On Golf Blog.
David Poole, the President and Founder also says that the new line has improved durability and color fastness since my original review. I’ll do a more full review later—as soon as the snow leaves the ground.
They’e also got a similar product for shoes, Footiez.
The Michigan Golf Show isn’t a product show like the PGA. Still, there were some interesting things there I haven’t seen before. One of them one the Magne Caddy, which is a large knob which attaches to the end of your putter. The knob is embedded with a very powerful magnet which allows you to pick other clubs off the ground without bending over. Here’s a video:
It’s a definite back-saving idea.
I also was intrigued by the imagolfer.com site, which manages your golf leagues online. At $7.50 a head, though, I think it’s overpriced.
I wasn’t looking for any new golf equipment, so I spent most of my time collecting brochures and cards from courses around Michigan. I find them useful in helping to remind me of places I’d like to play this next summer. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed quite a few that I would not have considered if I hadn’t seen them at the show.
Two courses this year were kind enough to extend invitations for me to play and do a review, so they’re on the must play list when the weather warms up: White Pine National in Spruce, Michigan, and The Captains Club at Woodfield in Grand Blanc.
Here are a few other courses and resorts that caught my attention. I apologize in advance if this seems like a laundry list. It’s as much to organize my own thoughts as it is meant for the readers:
I got a brochure for Oakland County Parks golf courses, and noticed that ever single one of them has the word “oaks” in the name: Lyon Oaks (a great one, review here), Glen Oaks, Red Oaks, Springfield Oaks and Whit Lake Oaks. If the others are half as nice as Lyon Oaks, I’ll need to visit them. You can find a lot of great Michigan golf in our municipal park systems.
St. John’s golf and conference center, a golf complex in Plymouth, Michigan—just a short drive from GolfBlogger World Headquarters—has been on my list for years. Maybe I’l lget there this summer.
I played Yarrow, in Augusta, Michigan last year; their booth has me thinking about a return trip. The best golf in the Augusta area, however, is at the five courses that comprise the Gull Lake group: Gull Lake East and West, Stonehedge North and South, and Bedford Valley. The’re well worth the drive from Detroit or Chicago.
The Mt. Pleasant area, in central Michigan, has a large number of golf courses that look like fun. The area has grown up around the Soaring Eagle casino and resort. Bucks Run in that area was at the show and looked enticing.
A bit further north, in Cadillac, McGuire’s Resort had some nice group deals. McGuire’s also looks like a place you could take the family. In addition to classic Michigan golf, they have tennis, swimming and nature trails.
Roscommon, in the upper middle of the state, brags of Forest Dunes (review here). The course is consistently ranked nationally as one of the best you can play. The course has had a bit of a checkered ownership issue, but now seems on solid footing and has expanded its lodging facilities. If they could somehow add a course or two, it could be the Bandon Dunes of the midwest—a pure golfing experience. There’s absolutely nothing else in the area—barely evidence of civilization.
The Natural, in the Gaylord area, apparently is under new management. They’ve teamed with Wilderness Valley, Black Forest (review here) and a place I’ve never heard of—Benjamin’s Beaver Creek Resort—for some nice packages. Looks like a nice place to park the family while the golfer takes off on his or her own.
Other Gaylord courses on my short list are Michaywe, the Classic and Tribute at Otsego Club, The Gaylord Country club looks like some nice, classic golf, since it dates to 1924. Interestingly, the Loon, also in the Gaylord area, has Butch Harmon and Natalie Gulbis as spokespersons/partners.
West of Gaylord is the Shanty Creek Resort. Their brochure has some terrific looking photos of their Tom Weiskopf and Arnold Palmer designed courses. They brag that they’re “Michigan’s Favorite Resort.” Also in the Bellaire area are The Chief and Hawk’s Eye, both of which look nice from the brochures.
To the east of Gaylord, Michigan is an attractive looking resort called Garland. They were offering a two nights, two rounds package for $199.
Still further North, several courses in the Indian River area have banded together for cross promotions. You can get coupons at the Indian River Chamber of Commerce website. The courses are Black Lake (review here), Cheboygan Golf Club, Chestnut Valley, Mullet Lake Golf Club and a personal favorite of mine, the Indian River Golf Club (which I have inexplicably not reviewed, but have a photo here.)
West of Indian River, in the Petosky/Harbor Springs area the Boyne Highlands resort has enticed me for several years. They have two courses there I really want to play: The Donald Ross Memorial, which has recreations of classic Ross holes, and the Heather, a walkable Robert Trent Jones design. The Heather was recommended to me by a guy I met at Bay Harbor golf course last summer. I think I missed my chance to play True North in Harbor Springs, though. They’ve gone private.
The Petosky area also has the Odawa Casino Resort, which has stay-and-play packages teamed with Black Bear, the Boyne courses, Dunmaglas Golf Club and Little Traverse Bay, among others. There also a course in the area called A-Ga-Ming, which looks like it has some of the best vistas outside of Arcadia Bluffs (review here). A-Ga-Ming had a two nights, hree days of unlimited golf package for $199.
Nearby Charlevoix, Michigan has a set of great clubs that includes Charlevoix Golf Club, which dates to 1896, and Belvedere golf club. Both were designed by Scottish architect Willie Watson. Antrum Dells brags about its vistas of Lake Michigan.
The Traverse City area was well-represented, headlined by what may be Michigan’s premier golf resort, The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. It’s well out of my price range, though. Rich folks only. The Leelanau Club may be more in the ordinary person’s price range.
Two Michigan golf experiences—both involving islands—seemed quite unique. Drummond Island Resort is located in Lake Huron, and you can only get there via ferry. In addition to golf, the Island has an incredible list of other activities. The other island experience is at Michigan’s world-famous Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island. It too, is accessible only by ferry, and there are no motor vehicles on the island. It’s much like stepping back in time.
Further afield from the state of Michigan, I have been enticed for several years by the French Lick Resort’s Donald Ross course. Walter Hagen won the 1924 PGA on that course. Indiana’s not that far a drive from GolfBlogger World Headquarters. I’d love to go there and do a writeup.
Tennessee state parks were at the show, promoting their Bear Trace Golf Trail. I picked up a couple of coupons.
Mygolfvacation.com, a golf travel booking company, caught my eye for their golf packages in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama—three states that I very much want to visit for a trip—perhaps later this spring. I also picked up a bunch of brochures for Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama golf.
From the Texas hill country was the Summit Rock course at the Horseshoe Bay resort. It looks amazing from the photos. I also admired the photos from the Mesquite, Nevada courses.