Gaylord Golf Mecca Comes in 17 Flavors
By Greg Johnson
1. Indian River Golf Club’s Pleasant Pistachio – They bill themselves at Indian River as the friendliest golf club in the north and then they pleasantly prove it over and over. This is a wonderful place, easy to access from I-75, and it has an excellent restaurant and a gem of a golf course.
2. Lakes of the North Golf Course’s Cookies & Cream – It’s a little off the beaten track, but worth the drive and sweet for all audiences. Two different nines designed by different people give you a great golf experience, and it serves challenge and playability to fit your game.
3. Michaywe’ The Pines’ – Creamy Caramel – This is one of the original courses in the Gaylord area and it is always one of the favorites. It is a traditional layout, strong enough to host the Michigan Amateur, yet playable enough to be the center of junior golf in the area.
4.. The Natural’s Moose Tracks – Escape to the true Northern Michigan golf experience. The Natural at Beaver Creek takes you over hills and through trees around bogs in a truly serene setting. Afterward, check out the deck or relax by a fire outside the Beaver Creek Resort cabins.
5. The Classic’s Brownie Fudge – It’s the original course at the Otsego Resort and it’s a great place for those who are not quite ready to play a 7,000-yard course with multiple bunkers. Beginners, seniors, juniors and those who just want to have fun have a lot of fun here.
6. The Tribute’s Rocky Road – This is the most challenging course at Otsego Resort and in the Mecca. It has dramatic terrain changes and incredible vistas that stretch for miles. The holes offer a wonderful mix of diverse looks and demand golfers use all their clubs.
7. Masterpiece’s Key Lime – The golf course that helped launch the Mecca marketing idea, the first at Treetops Resort, is a classic Robert Trent Jones Jr. design. A few of the tees are high in elevation, high enough to see a lot of treetops, and the challenge is up there, too.
8. Premier’s Banana Cream – This is the only course by cream-of-the-crop designer Tom Fazio in Michigan. Fazio gifted Treetops Resort and Michigan with a playable course designed for fun. Golfers enjoy the forgiving fairways that feed the ball back to the middle.
9. Signature’s Strawberry Cheesecake – This might be Rick Smith’s best design. The teacher/designer who used to call Treetops home wanted to build his version of a championship course for the resort. He pulled it off especially well. It’s a must-play course in the Mecca.
10. Tradition’s Cinnamon Apple – The Tradition is built with the greens close to the tees and allows walking, uncommon at most resorts. It fills a pleasing niche at Treetops. Rick Smith created a course with bigger fairways and greens and it is quite playable from the correct tee position.
11. Threetop’s Neapolitan – This famous nine is regarded as one of the best Par 3 courses in the world, and in the Mecca we think it is the best. Rick Smith used elevation changes as an artform in his creation of the course, and then invited legends of golf to play it. They loved it.
12. Fountain’s French Silk – Redesigned in 2010 by Michael Benkusky, this popular Garland Lodge & Golf Resort course mixes six par 5s, six par 4s and six par 3s smoothly, and risk-reward is built into hole after hole. Sound strategy is necessary on most shots, especially to undulating greens.
13. Monarch’s Mocha Almond – Garland’s longest course blends length and risk-reward, but also features large green complexes and wide fairways. Add in traditional dogleg holes and multiple bunkers and the golfer finds a true championship test of golf skill designed by Ron Otto.
14. Reflection’s Red Velvet – It plays to a maximum of 6,373 yards, but a golfer will not sense it is a short course because it is especially hard to overpower. It has six wonderful par 3 holes with pin placements protected by bunkers, and you need to think about your tee shots on every hole.
15. Swampfire’s Mango Sorbet – Water is visible on 15 of the 18 holes, but not all of it is in play. Still, the golfer has to handle some troubled waters. The tee complex at No. 5, a par 3 adds special flavor to the round. It horseshoes around and offers multiple tee settings and distances.
16. Black Lake Golf Club’s Black Cherry – Architect Rees Jones worked every feature on the incredible property into the course. Cranberry bogs, a small sand quarry, natural areas and thick stands of trees are part of holes that seemingly exist on their own like 18 little courses.
17. Gaylord Golf Club’s Mint Tradition – It’s all in the tradition of smooth, perfect greens at Gaylord Golf Club. Some of the best greens in Northern Michigan can be played on this classic course. This has been a favorite stop for wandering golfers who like it smooth for many years.