Sage Run Named Among Golf Digest’s Best New Courses

Sage Run Named Among Golf Digest's Best New Courses
The fifteenth at Sage Run is a 482 yard par 4.

Sage Run Golf Course at Island Resort and Casino in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has been named to Golf Digest’s list of Best New Courses of 2019.

I had the opportunity to play Sage Run last summer and thought it was terrific. It’s a worthy companion to Island Resort’s acclaimed Sweetgrass course. You can read The GolfBlogger’s Sage Run Golf Course Review at this link.

Both Sage Run and Sweetgrass are the creations of Paul Albanese, a Michigan-based architect who learned his craft under Jerry Matthews. Albanese, The courses are named after two of the traditional medicines of the Hannahville Band of the Potawatomi Nation.

Sage Run is routed along, and on either side of a drumlin — an elongated hill left behind by glaciers. Sweetgrass is more of a prairie course, relatively flat and windswept.

I would love to have the chance to go back and play again.

For golfers looking for a unique experience, a trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is worth a drive. If you establish your headquarters at Island Resort and Casino, you can play Sweetgrass and Sage Run as well as the acclaimed Greywalls and Timberstone courses. The latter two are within a hour-and-a-half’s drive of Island Resort. Read The GolfBlogger’s Greywalls Golf Course Review and Timberstone Golf Course Review.

The complete press release follows:

Sage Run at Island Resort & Casino Named Among Golf Digest’s “Best New Courses”
Bold, hilly Paul Albanese design earns kudos from magazine’s expert panelists

Harris, Mich. – The newest golf course in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Sage Run at Island Resort & Casino has been named to Golf Digest’s prestigious list of “Best New Courses, 2019.” Sage Run is the resort’s second course and Paul Albanese’s follow-up to his popular Sweetgrass design there.

More than 1,600 Golf Digest panelists across the U.S. and Canada played and evaluated Best New candidate courses, scoring each in eight evaluation categories: Shot Options, Layout Variety, Challenge, Distinctiveness, Aesthetics, Conditioning, Character and Fun. Sage Run was honored as one of the five Public layouts on the magazine’s always-anticipated list.

Sage Run plays around, over and through a scenic ridge that was shaped by glacial activity. Golfers experience winding holes through the trees and some open areas with tremendous variety of landscape and shot values. Natural long grasses edge the bunkers, and some of the short par 4s have blind shots to the greens. Albanese said Royal County Down in Northern Ireland, rated among the world’s top courses, served as inspiration for the course bunkering and overall “rough and rugged” aesthetic.

“We knew when we first laid eyes on this property, we had an incredible opportunity to create something very special. The routing that Paul Alabanese created turned out to be a dramatic yet very natural use of the natural, hilly features,” says Tony Mancilla, Island Resort’s General Manager. “To see Paul’s name in the same company with top designers like Gil Hanse, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw validates the brilliance we’ve seen in Paul’s work for a long time as well as the tremendous creative and strategic effort he put into Sage Run.”

Built in a thrilling natural setting, Sage Run showcases exceptional variety, including holes like the par-3 fifth, which plays significantly uphill or the short par-4 16th which dares you to take on an uphill shot to a blind landing area.

“It’s a great honor to have Sage Run recognized as one of America’s best new courses, especially considering the quality and depth of top architects and courses they had to consider,” Albanese says. “I think the natural flow and fit to the landscape and ruggedness of Sage Run is a fun contrast to the manicured, subtle and very bucolic course we created with Sweetgrass,” Albanese says. “To see golfers enjoying the way we navigated the dramatic natural features is very satisfying.”

Sage Run’s 7,375-yard par-72 design hosted the inaugural Island Resort Intercollegiate in August. Michigan State’s James Piot posted rounds of 68-70-69 (207) to slip past a trio of 210s posted by Nick Dentino and Joe Weiler of Purdue and Kieran Vincent of Liberty. Liberty edged Purdue by a single shot to take the team title.

For Albanese it was enlightening and gratifying to see the reactions Golf Digest’s panelists had to Sage Run:

“(Sage Run) is a combination of open prairie links and holes with wide corridors carved through trees. A dramatic piece of property in terms of elevation changes.”

“The architect used a massive ridge running through the property for tees, greens and even entire holes, like the uphill fifth and 16th. The third is an awesome par 5 with awesome bunkering in both the landing area and layup, reachable in two with great options off the tee, great options on your second and a cool small green perched on hill.”

“The course seems well balanced with holes being uphill, downhill, dogleg lefts and doglegs rights. This probably is its strongest attribute.”

“Sage Run surprised me. I was not expecting such dramatic elevations in comparison to nearby, relatively flat Sweetgrass. Sage Run is a breathtakingly beautiful course…”

“Built to be rugged.”

“A beast of a course that conjures visual comparisons to Shinnecock. Wide variety of green complexes and a number of unique holes. Exceptional conditioning for such a new course, and I expect this should improve.”

“This was worth the drive. The property is beautiful.”

For more information on how to book a stay at Island Resort & Casino to play Sage Run and Sweetgrass, visit

About Island Resort & Casino

Located in Michigan’s scenic Upper Peninsula 13 miles west of Escanaba, Island Resort & Casino is one of the Midwest’s largest golf, casino and entertainment resort destinations. The resort features over 300 guest rooms including elegant suites and a 42 –site RV Park. The 408,520 square feet casino offers slots, a poker room, craps, blackjack, Spanish 21, three card poker, let-it-ride, roulette and bingo.

The resort amenities also include the luxurious Drift Spa offering a variety of high-end spa services with access to the resort’s saltwater pool, steam rooms and sauna. Multiple dining options include the signature 5 Bridges Steak and Seafood House, 5 Bridges Pub, Firekeeper’s Restaurant, T.McC’s Sports Bar, Coral Reef Grille, Signature Subs & Pizza, The Coffee & Bakery Shop, as well as The Custard Shop. The Island regularly hosts headline entertainment in the intimate 1,315 seat Showroom, as well as weekly bands and comedy entertainers in Club 41. The Island Convention Center provides the perfect venue for special events, business meetings and weddings.

Award-winning golf has become the centerpiece of the Island Resort & Casino. Sweetgrass, ranked among Golfweek’s Best Courses, as well as recognition by GOLF Magazine and Golf Digest as a Best in State ranking, features an open layout with some of the game’s most fun greens to putt (Redan, Biarritz, Island, and Double-green). The Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass is part of the Symetra Tour – “Road to the LPGA” and the future of women’s golf. 2019 will be the first full season for Sage Run Golf Club, also designed by Paul Albanese (Sweetgrass) providing a different kind of golf experience where holes flow through the hardwoods and around a drumlin ridge. Golfers will find Sweetgrass and Sage Run are dramatically different, but equally exceptional.

For more information, visit

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