HARRIS, Mich. – Sage Run at Island Resort & Casino will be the third new golf course to open in Michigan in the last three years when it comes online next June 2018. The construction, shaping, and seeding have all been completed and now it’s just eagerly waiting and watching it transform into Michigan’s next great modern classic.
It might not sound like a lot of openings when compared to the mid-1980s to mid-1990s golf course construction boom, but it is a lot in the current era and indicates the golf economy is rebounding and that Michigan remains one of the leading golf destinations in America, and in the case the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a fast-growing golf destination.
“When we first built the Sweetgrass course, we wanted to have golf as an amenity for our resort guests,” said Tony Mancilla, the resorts general manager. “But over the years we have had more and more golfers coming to the resort and have evolved into a top golf destination. Adding a second golf course was a natural move for us and something that our golfing guests were demanding.”
The Sage Run course at Island Resort is part of an $8 million renovation aimed at enticing visitors to stay for a few days. It also includes the creation of a full-service spa, renovation of the bingo hall and a new sports bar.
Contrasts With Sweetgrass
Sage Run joins the celebrated Sweetgrass course at the resort for the Hannahville Indian Community, and offers a contrasting style and design by Paul Albanese, the architect of each course.
“Sweetgrass has been everything we hoped it would be and it has been very good to us,” Mancilla said. “Paul Albanese is an architect who lets the land dictate what the course will be, and at Sage Run the land is 180 degrees in contrast to the land where Sweetgrass was created.”
Sweetgrass, a flowing prairie links style course with gentle rolling hills, fun and challenging greens and beautiful fescue grasses has been a big hit since opening in 2008.
“Sage Run is 75 percent through great trees, very dramatic up and down through the hills with some great long holes going down the hills and some great short holes going up the hills; It’s a lot different,” Mancilla said.
Albanese said his company’s design philosophy is to never try to force a design.
“The property is much different than the property where Sweetgrass is located even though it’s a short few miles away by shuttle,” he said. “The only thing that will be similar is that it fits well with the land it is on like Sweetgrass, but it just so happens this property is very different.”
A natural drumlin, or elongated hill or ridge formed by glacial ice long ago, is the primary feature on Sage Run. Golf hole’s meander off of and around the hill offering a scenic variety of shots creating a fun thrill ride for golfers.
“It is a pretty prominent land form that is featured on the site,” Albanese said. “The holes go around, over and through the drumlin. Golfers will experience great holes through the trees, some in open areas and just a lot of variety in terms of landscape and feel.”
Natural long grasses edge the bunkers, and some of the short par 4s have blind shots to the greens. Albanese said Royal County Down in Northern Ireland, rated among the world’s top courses, served as inspiration.
“Sage Run has that same rough and tumble look with earth tones natural to that landscape,” he said.
The Sage Run name pays homage for the Hannahville Indian Community to the Potawatomi tribal traditions.
“We selected sage because we wanted to highlight another of our four traditional tribal medicines – along with cedar, tobacco and sweet grass,” Mancilla said.
Be sure to check www.islandresortandcasino.com for further announcements about the exact opening day.