By Charlene S. Mixa A Lakeside Town That Has It All!
Perched on an isthmus between Lake Michigan and Round Lake is the historic resort town of Charlevoix, Michigan. Promoted as “Charlevoix the Beautiful” the town lives up to its name with flowering petunias bordering the roadside all the way through town. Quaint yet sophisticated, Charlevoix welcomes visitors to stop and enjoy its beauty. The main street offers plenty of upscale and trendy shopping, excellent restaurants, and a lush park overlooking Round Lake. Just outside of town are some great golf courses for those who bring along their “sticks”.
Golfing DUNMAGLAS – On our visit to northern Michigan, we find ourselves in Charlevoix on several occasions including golf. On each visit we learn something new about the town, its history, and always find great food. Under blue skies and cool temperatures, our goal today is golf at Dunmaglas located a few miles from Charlevoix. Checking in at the clubhouse, we chat briefly with the Pro about the course. Initially a private club for an exclusive group, the primary focus was to build a demanding course which earned Dunmaglas the reputation as one of the country’s best golf courses. When the course changed ownership many golfers found the course too demanding. Undertaking changes to “soften” the course, it is now friendlier to the golfer while still maintaining much of the drama for which it was originally known. The new owners have spent considerable monies to bring the course to its excellent condition. Other amenities such as the Pro Shop, Halfway House, etc. are currently very basic.
After warming up on the driving range, we head to No. 1 to discover if Dunmaglas lives up to the claim of being “Northern Michigan’s Masterpiece.” From the elevated tee box this par 4 hole offers a beautiful wide fairway, bordered on the left side by a creek and woods on the right. The green is tucked off to the left. The course offers five sets of tees. Richard opts for the White Tees at 6359 yards (70.3/128) and I select the ladies Gold Tees at 5175 yards (65.9/117). This well maintained course is stunning. The bent grass greens are excellent with lots of tiers and undulations. I love putting on these greens and only one-putt or two-putt for the entire round.
The rolling terrain, woodlands and some wetlands all add to making this a great golfing experience. Holes are often uphill or downhill bordered by woods or grasslands. As we reach No. 7, we are at the pinnacle of the rolling hills with fantastic views of Lake Michigan. We can see for miles on this clear day. Atop the hill, it is very windy and the temperature drops. Putting on our windbreakers, we prepare to see how the wind will impact these holes. The front nine is demanding while still enjoyable. On the back nine, the course has more hillsides of heather and the finishing holes add extra challenges of water hazards and wetlands. No. 14 a Par 4 has a major vertical drop from the elevated tees and spectacular view of the countryside and Lake Michigan. As the course returns to the valley, No. 18, a par 4, has the drama of two hazards to cross with one just before the green. Finishing up, we both agree Dunmaglas is a special golf experience with its spectacular layout, breathtaking views and great condition.
Belvedere Golf Club and Charlevoix – A rainy Friday morning we are off with cousin, Gail, and friend, Sue, for a round of golf at Belvedere Golf Club in Charlevoix. The weather for Gail and Sue’s golf weekend has only been rain. Pulling into the parking area by the Pro Shop, the skies open up. It’s pouring! Golfers in carts and walkers are rushing in and unloading their clubs. Still optimistic we check in with Marty at the Pro Shop. Looking at the radar, Marty tells us to come back in a few hours when the weather has passed.
With a few hours to kill, we head to downtown Charlevoix. The rain has subsided making it easy to walk down the main street. The main shopping area is south of the canal connecting Round Lake to Lake Michigan. Shopping, relaxing in the park, watching the boats in the harbor either from the park, a restaurant and a local watery hole are all readily available in Charlevoix. Offering several boutique shops for women and men, we enjoy our window shopping and find a few great sales. A must stop is the Cherry Republic, which invites shoppers to “graze”. From dried cherries, to cherry salsa, chocolate covered cherries, jams, jellies, and even wine, they have done everything imaginable with cherries. Come hungry to sample their many products! Not to be out done, American Spoon is also a local favorite to visit for eclectic cherry and fruit products and lots of sampling.
Walking the street of Charlevoix we admire this town with its beautiful harbor, hanging floral baskets and of course the petunia lined streets. On the recommendation of a shop keeper, we walk across the bridge to the Edgewater Bistro for lunch. The Bistro is a small restaurant with views of Round Lake. With two small rooms off a small main area, we are seated in the smaller room. The lunch menu features a White fish plate for only $10.00 which includes a salad, the whitefish entrée over potatoes, and asparagus. AWESOME! The fish is fantastic! The servings are huge! Everyone is thrilled with their lunch, the quality, presentation and of course the cost.
Now with full tummy’s it’s back to Belvedere for golf. The skies are still gray but no rain is forecast, according to the radar. A traditional style course opened in 1927, Belvedere is like taking a walk into history. No. 1 is the most elevated with all tee boxes above this vertical drop to the fairway. Wide open fairways predominantly in the valley await us at Belvedere. The course is very well maintained and enjoyable to play. Large greens with some bunkering are in good shape and challenging to putt. A creek runs through the course on the front nine bisecting the fairways on several holes.
Seeing Gail retrieve her ball from the creek, we note she has a retriever. It’s not Gail’s! Each bridge across the creek has a retriever mounted to it! What a nice touch! No. 4 a Par 3 overwhelms us. A long par 3 for ladies of 150 yards requires a long high shot to an elevated green. Our shots land short or roll off the front of this raised green with its back into a steep hillside. Trying to pitch or putt to the green is futile. Balls roll off the back or if not landing high enough on the slope roll back past where the ball was initially. UGH! A squall comes through on #6 but luckily passes. As the front nine winds back toward the clubhouse, No. 7 is a slight uphill slope to a huge sloping green, causing many 3 putts or more. As we tee off on No. 9, the rain returns. There are no windshields on the carts, making it harder to keep dry. Richard and I complete the ninth hole, despite the rain. Rushing to the car and unloading golf clubs, we accept that golf is over for the day.
Sorry, we won’t get to experience the back nine of Belvedere which we hear has some great holes. Now, for dry clothes and pray for clear skies on Saturday.
If you go: Other recommendations for downtown Charlevoix is Stafford’s Restaurant which has good food, historical building and design. For “Happy Hour” we especially enjoy Whitney’s Bar with great hors de oeuvres and sitting on their 3rd floor deck looking out over the Park and Round Lake.
Be sure to also check out the “gnome homes” designed by Earl A. Young (March 31, 1889 – May 24, 1975). Over a span of 52 years, he designed and built 31 structures in Charlevoix, Michigan that look like mushroom houses, or Hobbit houses.
We also enjoy walking on the shore of Lake Michigan when visiting Charlevoix
Edgewater Bistro, 100 Michigan Avenue, Charlevoix, 49720; 231.547.1700; www.edgewaterbistro.com