By Charlene S. Mixa
Everything you need for a great northern Michigan vacation!
Seeking a great destination resort for golf, for families, relaxation or just for fun! In the search of cooler weather! Wanting a place to get away! Northern Michigan offers this and more! Shanty Creek Resorts, a mountaintop destination, features four challenging golf courses, various types of accommodations and convenience to small quaint towns, blue bays, and stunning lakes of northern Michigan. A Golf Digest Silver Medalist Resort, Shanty Creek is a great destination for golfers, families or anyone wanting to enjoy a relaxing setting.
Cooler summer weather and great golf courses attract my husband, Richard, and me to northern Michigan for a month. Researching various resorts in the Grand Traverse area we select Shanty Creek Resorts at Bellaire, Michigan. Factors in our decision are its central location to the northern Michigan area, accommodation options, and the Shanty Creek golf courses. It is less than forty miles to Traverse City, Charlevoix/Petoskey area, and Gaylord, where we anticipate golfing. Shanty Creek is an excellent choice for us.
The Resort: The Shanty Creek Resort is a year round resort covering a 4,500 acre mountaintop. Offering golf, spa, ski and conference facilities, Shanty Creek has three unique villages. Schuss Village with its Alpine buildings sits at the base of Schuss Mountain and is the primary ski area. Schuss Golf Course winds through the valley and hillsides of the mountain. Cedar River is on the North face of Schuss Mountain with the Cedar River Golf Course. Summit Village features The Lakeview Hotel and Conference Center plus the Legend and Summit Golf Courses. Each of the villages offers facilities from rooms and suites to multi-bedroom condos, villas and homes.
Summit Village is our choice for a month. Having stayed previously at Summit Village we are familiar with the village and all it has to offer. It has more activities during the summer months. Using a vacation club website, we are referred to an owner for renting directly for our one month rental. The Legends Cottage is excellent! A two-bedroom unit overlooking the No. 1 Hole on the Legend Golf Course features a large master bedroom with a king bed, master bath with shower and a whirlpool tub, a living room with a fireplace, couch and chairs, dining and kitchen areas all meet our needs. The second bedroom is a suite with a king bed, couch, chair, microwave, refrigerator and bath also with a whirlpool tub. It can actually be closed off to rent separately. Sliding glass doors open out to an awesome veranda with comfortable, white rocking chairs. The perfect place to relax, read, or just watch the golfers teeing off below! The Legend Cottages are built on a hillside so the front entrance, for our second floor unit, is a few steps up to the front porch. The back porch is high above the golf course with great views looking down the fairway. Now to play golf!
Shanty Creek’s four courses, set among the Michigan Northwoods, meet every golfer’s passion. During our trip we play three of the courses finding each in very good condition, enjoyable and challenging.
Cedar River Golf Course: Overcast skies greet us, as we tee off at Shanty Creek’s newest course, Cedar River, designed by Tom Weiskopf. Rated a top 100 Courses in the Country by Golf Digest, the beautiful course meanders through hardwood forest with tree-lined fairways, rolling terrain, and wonderful bent grass greens. Offering the longest course and the largest greens at Shanty Creek adds to the excitement. The White Tees are 5,963 yards (69.3/126) and the Red Tees are 5,315 yards (70.5/128). As a resort course it is very well maintained and has good practice facilities. The course features hills with some elevation changes and water on only a few holes. We love the rolling terrain on the front and the charm of the course as it winds through the woodlands. The greens are terrific, big yet great to putt!
On the back nine, Cedar River sports two “unique” holes. No. 13 a short Par-4 (272 White Tees/260 Red tees) has a split fairway with big fairway bunkers, a tree between the bunkers and more bunkers protecting the green. Paying attention to the distances and playing precise shots is a must. We each comment about the strange hole layout. Then No. 14, a Par-3, is from a very elevated tee to a green protected by bunkers and the hillsides below us of heather type grass ready to snatch short shots. Long shots roll off the green into thick rough. Ugly! No one in the foursome scores well on this hole. Rumor is that Weiskopf’s initial design was to cross the Cedar River on these holes. Due to environmental restrictions, this was not possible, thus, two “quirky” holes. No. 18, a long Par-5, starts with a carry over a hazard to a winding downhill, side sloping fairway to a huge green with the right side protected by a lake. The hillside fairway, for approach shots, feeds balls from left to right, quickly taking the ball and funneling it into the lake. Richard plays it perfectly for his Par. A blind shot for me, I play the ball left and it rolls off the slope onto the green and I make my bogey. A great way to finish for both of us! We really enjoyed this course with the terrific greens, friendly staff and well stocked Pro Shop.
The Legend Golf Course: Rated 4 ½ stars by Golf Digest, the Legend was designed by Arnold Palmer. An older more mature course, it is the most challenging and demanding of the Shanty Creek Courses. The Legend offers more terrain as it cascades from mountain tops to valley holes. Tight fairways, formidable doglegs, exciting natural hazards and challenging greens add to its excitement.
With an early tee time, we are off to Legend’s Clubhouse, across the street from the Legend Cottages. Playing as a twosome we prepare to tackle the “King’s” Legend. No. 2, a dramatic hole, welcomes us with hazards easily grabbing poorly hit shots. Exact shots are required to play the hole or suffer the consequence of a lost ball in the hazard. As the course moves up the hillside, there are stunning views of Lake Bellaire from No. 3 and No. 4. Don’t be fooled! No. 7 gives the impression of an easy par-5 at 432 yards for Richard from the White Tees and 391 yards for me from the Red Tees. The #1 handicap hole, a creek crosses the fairway twice. Selecting the proper club is mandatory for hitting the landing areas. Richard pars it! No. 10 is a great hole for us with Richard getting a birdie and me a par on this par-4 hole. A more complex course, the Legend, has water bisecting fairways, hazards to cross, thick club-grabbing rough along fairways and on the edge of the greens. Fast, tiered, sloping and undulating greens are a standard. The course calls for precise shots and paying close attention to yardage for carrying hazards and water. We like the course and find it much different from the Cedar River Course. Each is unique posing different demands and challenges. Its Pro Shop has good selection of golf attire and serves both Summit and Legend Courses.
Schuss Course a fun enjoyable course for golfers of all levels is designed to showcase nature’s splendor as it cuts through northern Michigan hardwoods. Women will especially enjoy the course from its terrain but may be challenged with its length of 5,383 yards. Playing on a Sunday morning after a rainy day, we find the front nine fairways extremely wet and soggy. The front nine runs along the valley with fairways meandering among woodlands. Several fairways have 90 degree doglegs but no water providing enough challenge but a more relaxing course on the front. The greens on the front allow for easy chip and runs.
New adventure awaits us on the back nine with elevation changes and valleys to carry. A demanding hole, No. 11, a par-5 has a double dogleg fairway along a hillside, requiring smart course management to play the hole well. From some holes we spot the idle ski runs and ski lifts on the hillside of Schuss Mountain. Returning to the valley, No. 18 is a par-4 dogleg right with water on each side of the fairway and a bunker protected green. My final hole for our Michigan golf expedition, I finish with a par! We both enjoy the Schuss course finding it demanding and fun. Schuss just gets no respect with having to compete with highly rated Legend and Cedar River courses. It brings a good balance to the resort in offering course variety for all level of golfers to Shanty Creek.
Places to Eat: Shanty Creek has various food options for eating from the upscale dining room at Lakeview Hotel at Summit Village to Ivan’ssports type eatery, at Schuss Village. The Lakeview Hotel is a must for lunch, dinner, brunch or cocktails to enjoy the spectacular view of Bellaire Lake from the “summit”. Ivan’s is a more casual restaurant with plenty of TV’s and arcade machines to entertain the kids or adults. After golf, we take our score card to Ivan’s since it advertises that our beer or wine is only the cost of our score on one of Shanty Creek’s courses. The Cedar River Lodge also has dining and a very nice outside area to watch golfers coming in on No. 18.
Just a few miles down the road from Shanty Creek is the charming town of Bellaire. Offering a few shops and several great eateries, it is convenient for a change of pace. The Bellaire Bar & Restaurant is a down home bar with some great food, especially the hamburgers and wet burrito. Lulu’s Bistro is more upscale with a diverse menu. Moka is a terrific gourmet sandwich shop. Short’s Brewing Co. a Micro Brewery, of course serving their own beer, is a hectic setting but good food. Don’t expect to have table service, here you order at the counter. On the outskirts of Bellaire is The Dockside with great view over beautiful Torch Lake. The Blue Pelican Room in Central Lake is only a few miles north off M-88. Their bar is perfect for enjoying drinks and appetizers. Dinner reservations are recommended for their dining room and porch seating. Offering a diverse menu, this is a special place to eat for this area.
Northern Michigan is a great golf destination!
Our month in Michigan is terrific. The cooler weather in the 60’s and 70’s made golfing 18 and sometimes 36 holes a day very enjoyable. The Legend Cottage exceeded our expectations for accommodations and became our comfy hide-a-way immediately. Shanty Creek with its golf courses and central location works out for us on this golfing expedition. We play sixteen exciting golf courses in northern Michigan, loving each of them for their uniqueness. Love golf, love cooler weather, the Grand Traverse area truly is a “perfect destination”!
If you go: Check out the golf packages at Shanty Creek. While we didn’t use these, there are some excellent golf packages to meet the golfer’s needs. If you are planning a longer visit then consider using the property rental website. We feel there is plenty of opportunity to negotiate on property rentals. Plus there are several other courses close to Shanty Creek that are fun and challenging to play, too.
Shanty Creek Resort, One Shanty Creek Road, Bellaire, MI 49615; 1.800.678.4111; www.shantycreek.com
Vacation Properties Network, 5820 Shanty Creek Road, Bellaire, MI 49615; 1.800.968.0129; www.vpnupnorth.com