By Charlene S. Mixa Top Ranked Golf in Michigan’s Palm
Michigan is truly a golf Mecca. Golf courses of every venue abound offering challenge and excitement for all golfers from the low handicapper to seniors and ladies. Many of Michigan’s courses are rated among America’s 100 Greatest Courses by Golf Digest. The state’s ads on “Pure Michigan” could easily be titled “Pure Golf in Michigan”. On the top of our list of courses to play is Tullymore, ranked No. 15 in the Top 100 Greatest Public Courses by Golf Digest.
Opening in 2002 Tullymore was hailed No. 1 by Golf Digest’s for being the best upscale course in America. The Resorts of Tullymore & St. Ives welcomes us as we begin our tour of Michigan golf. Located in Stanwood, MI a couple of hours plus from the Detroit area, we arrive at the Inn at St. Ives in the late afternoon. The Inn offers standard hotel accommodations and is perfect for the weekend golfers or golf groups, who come for the golf. Tullymore & St. Ives have several choices of housing from the standard room at the Inn to luxury condominiums to custom houses. The staff is most gracious and quickly assists with any questions.
Exploring the property we go next door to the St. Ives Club House. The St. Ives Sports Club and Grille is a casual eatery with the St. Ives patio offering outside dining. The deck is a good spot to relax, watching golfers on the first tee of the St. Ives Golf Course. A putting green is just off the deck. Golfers can wind down and then practice their putting for the next round. The Pro Shop at St. Ives has a wide selection of golf apparel for men and women. It’s a great time to shop! There area sales on clothing and shoes. As we enter the Pro Shop, Bernice warmly greets us. She assists in our shopping purchases and questions regarding the resort. With a twilight rate after 5:30PM for only $25.00 many golfers are heading out to play the St. Ives Course. Michigan’s longer summer days allow for later rounds. Picking up a sheet of detailed directions to the Tullymore Clubhouse we easily locate it. Bright red and yellow flowers bordered by stone with a bronze statue of a young golfer mark the impressive entrance of Tullymore. A waterfall flowing over the “Tullymore” sign is elegant at the upscale clubhouse. The Pro Shop staff is very helpful confirming our tee time for the following day and giving us information about the course and area. The clothing selection at Tullymore is also excellent.
Dinner on the grand patio at Tullymore is perfect with a picturesque view of the No. 18 hole. An awesome finishing hole, a Par 5 that follows a lakeshore to a sloping green. From the deck we can see the fairway and green as golfers make their final approach shots. Watching their successes and misses, inspires us on how to best play the hole. A sunny evening looking over the golf course and the lush landscape is a beautiful setting for our relaxing tasty dinner. A quick complimentary continental breakfast the next morning at the St. Ives Clubhouse prepares us for our day of golf. At the Tullymore Bag Drop area as the assistants quickly take our clubs, we admire several floral landscaped islands with bronze statues of a man, a girl, and a little boy golfer. The practice area and putting green are convenient and well maintained. Checking in with the Starter, we are gladly paired with another couple. Even better they are from Florida and we have lots in common.
Tullymore, designed by Jim Engh, a nationally known golf architect, offers five sets of tees with the Silver Tees at 7,148 yards with an impressive 148 slope rating. The men choose the Blue Tees playing at 6,210 yards (135 slope rating) and the ladies select the gold tees at 4,668 yards (115 slope rating). The “Tullymore Pro Pointers” sheet has detail suggestions on playing each hole with distances to targets from each tee.
Quickly we learn the importance on reading the “Pointer” and checking the score card graphic before playing a hole. The course is in excellent condition and is a woman friendly course taking out several of the numerous hazards and wetlands. The front nine has three Par 3’s with Par 35 but the back nine makes up for it with three demanding Par 5’s with Par 37. Men, need their power game to carry the numerous wetlands, marshes and hazards. Women prepare for shots over wetlands and hazards. Some holes especially the Par 5’s sport wide fairways but lots of problems for missing the fairway from long bunkers to nasty tall grasses that take power to get out. Blind shots to greens add extra challenge. Missing a green even on short Par 3’s, results in lies in nasty, thick rough or club grabbing, tall grassy areas. Tullymore is usually not forgiving for errant shots. The course requires good course management and smart play. Paying attention to the “Pointer” sheet with good shots will assist in a lower score.
The four of us enjoy the course and are very pleased with our scores for playing the course the first time. Of course we take into consideration that the difficulty of the course changes dramatically when playing from other tees than the Championship tees with the highest rating. From the tees we play, the course offers enough challenge but is not so demanding that it is frustrating. On many holes we chuckle that Engh just stuck some tee boxes and a green in a marsh, as these appear to be islands in the sea of grass. It is a fun day with each of us having special shots and holes to recall later. Following our round, we visit over lunch on the Tullymore deck, reliving the game and getting to know our new playing companions.
If you go: The Resort offers two courses – Tullymore and St. Ives. They have numerous accommodation choices so determine what works best for you. The Inn truly has basic hotel rooms. We liked that it included the continental breakfast. Since the Resort is remote, it is perfect for golfing groups of men, women or seniors whose goal is to only golf. We found the staff to be excellent in answering questions and offering assistance. The varied restaurant and eating options are good. For a little diversion, about 30 minutes away is Mt. Pleasant with more restaurants and the Soaring Eagle’s Casino. The Resorts of Tullymore & St. Ives, 9900 St. Ives Drive, Stanwood, MI49346, 1-800-972-4837; www.tullymoregolf.com