(Harris, Michigan) – It was 10 years ago that the Island Resort & Casino, located in Michigan’s scenic Upper Peninsula just outside of Escanaba, developed the award-winning Sweetgrass golf course and began a journey toward becoming a leading golf destination.
In mid-July the Hannahville Indian Community, led by its Tribal Chairman Ken Meshigaud, Island Resort General Manager Tony Mancilla, and golf course designer Paul Albanese opened Sage Run, the resort’s second golf course, in a ceremony with community members and leaders.
“We are very excited to be opening our second golf course on the 10-year anniversary of our first course Sweetgrass,” Mancilla said. “Sage Run is exactly what we wanted – something different from the other courses in the region. It has a very rugged feel that was inspired by a trip Paul Albanese and I took to Royal County Down, including tee-boxes that are natural to the ground on simple land forms similar to how they built them back in the late 1800s.”
Albanese, too, is elated with the final product.
“This was an inspiring project to work on,” he said. “We spent months on different routings allowing us to experience the different landscapes including the drumlin.”
The natural drumlin – an elongated hill or ridge formed by glacial ice long ago – is the primary feature on Sage Run. The golf holes meander over and around the hill offering a scenic variety of shots and creating a fun thrill ride for golfers.
“Sage Run has a very rough and tumble feel to it,” Albanese said. “As Tony indicated, our trip to Royal County Down was very inspirational in this design and we incorporated some of the rugged design philosophy into it. Golfers will experience great holes through the trees, some in open areas and just a lot of variety in terms of landscape and feel.”
Celebrating 10 years of excellence this year, Sweetgrass, also designed by Albanese, features masterfully crafted rockwork with a prairie links style. The course boasts an island green on No. 15 and a pair of breathtaking waterfalls that greet golfers as they play up the ninth and 18th holes to an enormous, shared green.
A Biarritz and a Redan green, and bridges rescued from other areas in the state are other compelling design components and part of the story of the course. Sweetgrass is also home to a future of women’s professional golf tournament, the Symetra Tour Island Resort Championship.
“Not very many architects get the opportunity to come back and design a second golf course at a resort destination like Island Resort,” Albanese said. “It was a wonderful opportunity to be able to design this second golf course and now have two very unique designs for golfers of all levels to experience.”