Reasons why the Upper Peninsula is the mecca of golf in Michigan

Psssst, attention all hardcore golfers, come a little closer.

I’ve got a little secret to share with you.

It’s actually one I don’t want to share, because well, I prefer to have to keep this secret so I can enjoy it all to myself.

But since we’re all brothers and sisters in the golfing community, I’ll be nice and share it anyway, so are you listening?

Ok, here it goes.

Uh-hem.

The mecca for golf in the state of Michigan is the Upper Peninsula.

Yes, you heard that right.

The same Upper Peninsula that is widely known for cold weather, more cold weather, and well, even more cold weather throughout a calendar year.

But in addition to delicious pasties, smoked whitefish, beautiful acreage, waterfalls and coastline, the UP also does golf better than any region in the state.

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And this is coming from someone who has played nationally-known courses in the Lower Peninsula such as Arcadia Bluffs, Bay Harbor and the Heather Course at Boyne Highlands.

Here are the reasons why, with the reasons namely being the unique and breathtaking courses that reside north of the Mackinac Bridge.


Sage Run

Photo by Keith Dunlap. (GMG)
Photo by Keith Dunlap (GMG)

Named one of the country’s best new public courses by Golf Digest in 2019, this is located in Bark River, roughly 20 miles west of Escanaba.

You certainly don’t feel like you are going anywhere special driving along a two-lane road in the middle of nowhere before turning into a parking lot and roughly 1,000-foot clubhouse that are nondescript at best.

Photo by Keith Dunlap (GMG)

But the course is an entirely different universe.

With immaculately groomed fairways and greens, rapid changes in elevation, challenging shots and incredible views, it’s no wonder a college tournament is held there each year in August/September and it’s so acclaimed already.

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Sweetgrass

Photo by Keith Dunlap (GMG)

Located on the property of the Island Resort and Casino in Harris (Sage Run, its sister course also owned by the resort, is about a 10 minute drive from the Sweetgrass course), Sweetgrass was named as the 2022 Golf Course of the Year by the National Course Owners Association.

Photo by Keith Dunlap (GMG)

It is flatter than Sage Run, but is a scenic prairie type of course that has lightning-fast greens, well-maintained fairways and require precise approach shots into elevated or turtle-backed greens.

The signature hole is the 15th, which is a par-3, island hole where you have to cross a bridge to get to the green.


Greywalls

Photo by Keith Dunlap (GMG)

This is the signature course in the Upper Peninsula — and arguably the state — and for good reason. It’s annually ranked by Golf Digest as one of the country’s top public courses (it checked in at No. 65 this year).

Much like Sage Run, it has dramatic changes in elevation with fast greens and impeccable fairways. It’s known as Greywalls because of the constant sight of rock formations in hills and the turf that surrounds greens and fairways.

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Photo by Keith Dunlap (GMG)

At its highest point, there are also views of Lake Superior in the distance.

It’s also located in the thriving community of Marquette, so there is plenty to do and see when your round is over.

Others

There is a highly-acclaimed course in Iron Mountain (which the author hasn’t gotten to yet, but plans on soon), Timberstone. It was ranked as the No. 16 public courses in Michigan in 2022 by Golfweek.

If you want a course with some views of Lake Superior, Wild Bluff Golf Course located at Bay Mills Resort & Casinos in Brimley is another good option.

Gladstone Golf Club, The Rock Golf Course at Drummond Island Resort and Pine Grove Golf Club in Iron Mountain are other courses with scenic views.

Is there a golf course in the UP that we missed that is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.

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