By Charlene S. Mixa
Spectacular Golf in Northern Michigan!
Seeking a golf resort with multiple courses, good lodging, golf school, and activities other than “just golf”? Treetops Resort in Gaylord, MI has it! Rated the “Best Golf Resort in the Midwest” by Travel & Leisure Magazine, Treetops is a truly a haven for golfers. With bragging rights on five spectacular golf designs by three outstanding golf architects of Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Tom Fazio, and Rick Smith, Treetops offers a challenge for golfers of all levels. Four courses are rated 4 ½ stars by Golf Digest in 2008!
Pursuing the exciting courses of “Pure Michigan”, my husband and I take on Tom Fazio’s course, the “Premier”, and Rick Smith’s “Threetops”, rated the “No.1 Par 3 Course in America” by Travel & Leisure Magazine. Driving in, the immediate impression is Treetops is a well maintained resort. The entrances to the lodges and golf courses are magnificently landscaped teaming with blooming foliage. Dropping off our clubs, we are rewarded by a spectacular view from the mountain top where the clubhouse for the Premier, Tradition and Threetops sits. Following check in, we take full advantage of the driving range while enjoying the fantastic vista of rolling hills, farmlands, and woodlands. The weather is perfect with clear skies, cool temperatures and a light breeze.
The “Putting Course”, a practice putting green, has extreme undulations and tiers in preparation for the dramatic greens on the courses. Now to tackle the “Premier”, the only Tom Fazio designed course in Michigan. We recently played another Fazio course, Champion Hills in North Carolina that was truly diabolical. Checking in with the starter we are able to get out ahead of several foursomes. The score card has good graphics and “Pro Pointer” for each hole and the Green Sheet has detail information on the pin placement for each green. The “Premier” is a terrific course in excellent condition. Its vast, rolling fairways are often bowl-shaped to corral errant shots. On several shots, we believe we are in the thick rough along the fairway to find the ball in the fairway or on the green, thanks to a favorable roll or kick. Michigan continues to surprise us with the elevation changes of many courses and the “Premier” offers numerous holes with dramatic elevation changes. Some fairways are all uphill or downhill.
The greens are super challenging! Huge, multi-tiered, fast greens make for many 3 putt greens. Additionally, the greens are elevated 25 to 35 feet surrounded by thick rough, where balls are quickly lost. The fallaway, sloping, contoured greens are hard to read. A very soft touch is required. Par 3’s have vertical drops of 40 feet on No. 4 and 80 feet on No. 8. Clubbing down is critical to not over shoot the green. While the course is lady friendly, often having the tees forward of hazards it still has lots of challenges. Some Par 4’s are deceptive in their shorter yardage. Overall we enjoy our round, the great condition of the course, varied terrain and some great views.
After a light lunch, we are off to “Threetops”, home of the annual TV event, the “Par-3 Shootout” begun in 1999. Preparing to tee off, we are reminded of the times we watched greats of Nicklaus, Palmer, Trevino, Couples and Mickelson play this course. Trevino’s ace on #7 won him $1,090,000! FUN! FUN! FUN! “Threetops” is the most unique Par-3 course. Each hole has a name to match its dynamics. No. 1 is Plateau requires a drive over a valley to a Plateau green. Devil’s Drop is No. 3 with a 145 foot vertical drop. Proper club selection is demanded on each hole. Richard is excellent with his tee to green shots but I consistently over club. The greens are fast, multi-tiered with lots of contours. A great course to play with a group! Earn points for hitting the green as well as low scores.
It is a great day of golf at Treetops! As we leave the Resort, we stop by the clubhouse for the “Masterpiece” course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. Also rated 4 ½ Stars by Golf Digest in 2008; it looks like an excellent course to play. Maybe on our next visit? Playing both the “Premier” and “Threetops”, we end our terrific day of golf with dinner in the Alpine town of Gaylord, MI.
If you go: Note: Treetops is 230 miles, north of Detroit, off I-75. It is the easiest most direct course to get to of many of the Resorts. Located just outside the town of Gaylord, MI which has nice restaurants and shopping. As always check their website for specials when making your travel plans. Treetops offer a “Ladies Golf Escape” and a “couples golf school”.
Treetops Resort & Golf, 3962 Wilkinson Road,Gaylord, MI 49735;989.732.6711 or 1.888.TREETOPS; www.treetops.com