By Charlene S. Mixa
Enjoyable Golf Atop the Mountains of Northern Michigan!
It’s not all about snow! Starting as the Otsego Ski Club in 1939, the Otsego Club in Northern Michigan grew into a four-season resort facility. The Spring, Summer and Fall months feature golf on two world-class courses, the Tribute and the Classic. Winter is all about snow with 27 ski slopes and miles of cross country ski trails.
Our visit is all about golf! A sunny day with bright blue, cloudless skies, a light breeze and temperatures in the low 80’s, it is a terrific day for golf. Driving into Otsego Club the log cabin type lodges and rustic buildings welcome us with Alpine charm. Most fitting for its location outside of Gaylord, MI as the entire town is decked out in a Swiss Alpine décor. Arriving early, lunch at the Logmark, adjacent to the Pro Shop, is highly recommended for their Panini’s. The Panini is delicious!
Boasting two world-class courses, the Classic, built in 1955, was designed by premier golf course architect, William H. Diddle. In 2001 the Tribute opened as a Top 10 Best New Courses by Sports Illustrated Magazine. Rick Robbins and PGA Tour veteran, Gary Koch, designed the course that spreads over the famed Sturgeon River Valley.
Locating the practice range, a short drive among the rustic lodges, we warm up and practice putting before heading out to play Tribute. The cart path winds around open areas of ski slopes, chair lifts and even an oil well pumping, then through a forested area before ending up at the No. 1 tee of Tribute. The first hole, a gentle hole with no major problems, sports a wide fairway uphill to an open green. As a lady golfer, I am thrilled to see large elevated tee boxes for the forward tees. In fact nearly every tee is elevated giving stunning views of the hole and beautiful horizon. The course predominantly stays along the top of the hills among towering hardwoods with spruce trees sprinkled among them. Many holes play downhill with wide fairways, edged by bunkers and tall natural grassland areas. Beware of errant shots as the hillsides or valleys quickly snatch what appeared to be a solid shot. Crazy bounces also result in balls appearing to leap out of the fairway.
An exciting downhill hole, No. 2 is fun. Our shots land in the center of the fairway and continue to roll down the hill toward the green, giving the feeling of super long drives. Choices are necessary at No. 4 a par-5 with its double fairway and the extra challenge of the hidden green below a ridge. The left fairway provides a better angle for the approach to the green. Short shots end up in thick downhill rough. Only two holes, No. 8 & No. 9 have water hazards that cross the fairway. The graphics card is important here to determine distance to the hazard and to carry it on your second shot. A par-4, No. 18, is all uphill to a hidden well bunkered green tucked to the right side. My second shot is less than 100 yards to the green above. Changing from my initial club to a hybrid for this uphill shot, I am on the green in two and with two putts make my par. A great way to finish the day!
Tribute is a fun course to play with plenty of challenge but not overly demanding for the average golfer. This is a great course for ladies playing at 5,085 yards. Seniors will find it a good choice as well as the long hitters.
If you go: Otsego Club & Resort, 696 M-32 East, Gaylord, MI 49734; 1.800.752.5510; www.Ostegoclub.com