When folks think of Mackinac Island, the first thing that always comes to mind is fudge. And then, of course, memories of horses, forts and bikes when contemplating this lovely slice of Pure Michigan paradise. But there are many other sites and activities to behold on this island jewel.
We’re looking forward to finding time to pick up some golf clubs and put down our fudge paddle for an afternoon on the links. Here, we offer some insider insights straight from two who are in-the-know when it comes to teeing up on the island.
Wawashkamo Golf Club
Located on British Landing Road in the middle of the island, the historic Wawa (the local nickname) is a nine-hole (that you can play twice, differently), links-style golf course that was designed by Alex Smith in 1898. It is one of the oldest continuously played golf courses in Michigan and was named one of America’s historic Golf Landmarks by Golf Digest.
Club professional Chuck Olson recently found some time to share with us his favorite parts of the course.
Q: What should one know about the first tee box?
A: “The cannon is really neat. It’s located just about where the British cannons would have been placed during the 1814 battle between the Americans and the British. It’s a great place to take some pictures.”
Q: As we approach the 6th green, what should we be looking for?
A: “To the right of our 6th fairway we have a historical plaque located where American soldiers were buried after that 1814 battle. That really brings the battle to life and makes us think about how many soldiers lost their lives during the battle.”
Q: And as we get to the 3rd green, is there something special there?
“Check out the circus ring that runs around most of the green. I have never seen another green with long fescue grass a foot from the green. That’s a neat, old- style feature that is Wawashkamo’s alone.”
Q: Everyone talks about a hickory stick event. What exactly is that?
A: “Every year, we hold the National Hickory Stick Classic Tournament, a celebration of golf and a fundraiser for the club. This summer’s event was Aug. 12-13 at Mission Point Resort.” (Hickory wood, incidentally, was the material used in the early 1800s for club shafts. Hickory was more durable than other woods and became the standard until steel shafts were introduced in the 1920s.)
Grand Hotel Golf
The Jewel includes The Grand front nine, located across the street from the legendary hotel, with views of Lake Huron and Round Island. Its The Woods back nine runs through the interior of the island near the airport and offers great vistas of the Mackinac Bridge and the Upper Peninsula.
The Grand nine was built in 1901 and redesigned in 1987 by golf course architect Jerry Matthews. He also designed The Woods nine, added in 1994. Grand Hotel Executive Vice President and Managing Director Ken Hayward recently found some time to share with us his favorite parts of the course.
Q: We know we should keep our eyes on the ball, but we hear you can’t help but look up at various views. What shouldn’t we miss while golfing The Jewel?
A: “Absolutely, the views. From the 7th tee, you can see the entire Straits of Mackinac and the Mackinac Bridge. From the 10th green, you can see both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas — and the bridge!”
Q: Besides those fantastic views, what else might a golfer get a kick out of?
A: “The horse-drawn golf shuttle from The Grand nine to The Woods nine portion of The Jewel. It’s about a mile and a half to The Woods nine. The 15-minute ride includes parts of the island unseen by many visitors.”
Q: Any advice for those of us not used to golfing on an island? Does the topographical location make much difference at all?
A: “Well, yes … all the putts break toward the lake. Of course we are on an island so that advice is always correct.”
Q: Where’s a good place to enjoy a beverage as we tally up our scores?
A: “The 19th hole at Bobby’s Bar at The Woods or The Jockey Club at the Grand Stand near our pro shop.”
Both men share that there are definitely some challenges awaiting golfers at each course. So just remember, there’s no fudging it when it comes to tallying up those scores!
WHEN YOU GO
- For more information, visit Wawashkamo Club Club or The Grand’s Jewel.
- You can bring your own clubs or rent a bag at either clubhouse. Reservations are requested. There are putting greens to warm up at each course. Prepare to lose some balls!
- Arrange to bring a box lunch. Refreshments are available at the clubhouses.
- The Wawashkamo course is nine holes configured with 18 different tees so you play around twice with different yardages. At The Jewel, you’ll travel by carriage to experience two totally different courses. Most visitors are surprised.
- You’ll use all of the clubs in your bag to enjoy golfing the elevation changes on Mackinac Island. Have fun! And let us know what you think of our courses by posting a comment below.
Posted Aug. 25, 2016