By Charlene S. Mixa
An exciting links course in Northern Michigan
Two unforgettable courses welcome golfers to A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort. The initial course, A-Ga-Ming, was a nine hole course. The expansion to an eighteen holes in 1986 moved the course to the next level. Creating a challenging golf layout, A-Ga-Ming (now Torch) has the most spectacular views in northern Michigan of the majestic blue Torch Lake and its surrounding countryside. Growth continued at A-Ga-Ming adding guest lodging, real estate development and golf course improvements with the course earning Golf Digest’s 4 star status.
Sundance, an outstanding links style resort course officially opened to rave reviews in 2005. Nestled on bluffs between Torch Lake and Lake Michigan, the course features some holes with magnificent vistas. One of the premier courses in northern Michigan, Sundance delights the scratch golfer to the beginner. Having played A-Ga-Ming’s Torch many years ago with its fantastic views of Torch Lake, we look forward to playing Sundance.
With a cousin, Gail and a friend, Sue, we head out under overcast skies. Rain, rain go away is our mantra today. Due to rainy weather, our past two day’s attempts to golf all ended in only playing nine holes. On the drive, we search the sky for a ray of sunshine. Clear skies are not to be. Hey, it’s not raining!
Cloudy skies greet us at A-Ga-Ming, so it’s on with rain gear. With rainy days, a golf cart amenity of a windshield is important. Yes, A-Ga-Ming carts have a windshield! Our first time playing Sundance, we find the scorecard graphics for each hole very helpful. Offering five sets of tees, Richard plays the White Tees at 6,252 yards with rating and slope of 69.5/124 and we play the Red Tees at 5,172, 70.1/124. Standing on the first tee, we admire the beautiful scenery of this links course. A picturesque par 4, No. 1 is a downhill hole with a wide fairway bordered by bunkers and hills of tall heather. Drizzling rain starts just as we tee off.
Sundance’s front nine features the traditional links-style course with a water hazard on only one hole, No. 3 a par 3. A par 5, No. 9 is a dramatic hole with a hazard to carry, huge hillsides of heather, a dogleg right and uphill fairway to a well bunkered elevated green. Thick heather along the hillsides snatch poorly played shots, slices or hooks. From various holes the view looking back over this open links-style course is awesome.
Greater elevation changes on the back nine add to the beauty of the course as it winds through woodlands. Uphill or downhill fairways and hazards of wasteland on the back nine add a new challenge. Arriving at the granite marker with graphics for No. 14, a long par 5, sitting on top the marker are six miniature bottles of Jack Daniels. Earlier golfers have clearly been enjoying themselves. Richard states, “This must be a six shot hole!” As the course ascends to No. 16 a par-3 the highest point on the course, we enjoy this beautiful view of Torch Lake and the countryside. A great photo opportunity! This par 3 has a major vertical drop to a huge green below. A dramatic finishing hole, No. 18 a long par 4 is dogleg right with a peninsula green bordered by a lake and a long narrow bunker protecting it on the front and hillside of thick rough on the back.
Despite rain showers, we really enjoy Sundance’s links-style with wide fairways, sculpted greens, wind swept bunkers and heather-clad mounding. Fun on a rainy day, it would be spectacular on a sunny day. Finally we played eighteen holes! Even with the rain the course is crowded on this Saturday so the pace of play is slow making for a five hour round.
Starved from a long day of golf in wet weather, we head to nearby Elk Rapids for dinner. The Riverwalk Restaurant is an excellent setting on the edge of Elk Lake. More of Michigan’s delicious seafood is the fare. Toasting the day we share stories of each hole with the excitement and fun of playing Sundance.
If you go:
A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort, 627 A-Ga-Ming Drive, Kewadin, MI 49648; 231.264.5081 or 800.678.0122; www.a-ga-ming.com