Boyne Golf offers 3 resorts, 11 golf courses and 171 holes designed by renowned course architects including Arthur Hills, Robert Trent Jones and Bruce Matthews.
Boyne Highlands, Boyne Mountain and The Inn at Bay Harbour are the three resort destinations offered by Boyne Golf located within easy driving distance of each other and they each offer something different to the golf traveler to the upper peninsula of Northern Michigan.
The Heather Course at the Boyne Highlands Resort and the Bay Harbour Links and Quarry nines at the Inn at Bay Harbour in Northern Michigan were my familiarization destinations on my latest visit to Michigan last September.
BOYNE HIGHLANDS RESORT – Harbor Springs, Michigan
Tee times should not be a problem at the Boyne Highlands Resort as they have five golf courses to choose from including the Arthur Hills, Donald Ross Memorial, Heather, Moor Golf Clubs and the Hidden River Golf & Casting Club.
I played BOYNE’s very first golf course on this trip. The Heather by Robert Trent Jones has stood the test of time as an elite, best of the best, championship course. Wide tree-lined fairways, sculpted bunkers and daunting water hazards await your game. On the course, you are seldom in contact with other golfers but the variety of wildlife is abundant and you will experience many “one with nature” moments.
The Heather played host to the 100th Michigan Amateur in 2011.
Although we didn’t have the opportunity to play the other golf courses at Boyne Highlands on this trip, I can tell you from my past experiences that they are up to the standard envisioned by Mr. Kircher.
The Arthur Hills Course takes you on an exciting journey through dramatic changes in elevation on the highlands property. Generous landing areas on the rolling terrain punctuated with natural wasteland and waste bunkering off the tee are a staple, and Mr. Hills has also provided generous but tricky green complexes.
The signature hole on the course is the par 5 – 13th measuring 570 yards from the back tees. The 3-minute drive through the woods seems to be never ending as you climb to the highest point on the property, but the spectacular view that awaits you is well worth the trip. A sweeping fairway with out of bounds on both sides is the target for your golf ball if you can tear yourself away from the breathtaking view.
The Donald Ross Memorial is a composite of classic golf holes designed by Donald Ross in the early part of the century and re-created at BOYNE from some of the architect’s most renowned golf courses, including Oakland Hills, Seminole Golf Club, Pinehurst #2, Inverness, and Oak Hill.
The Moor features numerous doglegs, marshes and water holes along its 6850 yards. A well designed course for players of all levels. The Moor was the second course built at Boyne Highlands and is host to many exciting events, including the AJGA’s Coca-Cola Championship, Kircher Cup, and Harbor Cup.
Designed by architect W. Bruce Matthews III, the Hidden River Golf & Casting Club offers a demanding but fair test of golf amid beautiful northern Michigan surroundings. The course is enjoyable with minimal forced carries and a true northern Michigan gem that will be enjoyed by golfers of all skill levels.
THE INN AT BAY HARBOR – Bay Harbor, Michigan
Bay Harbor Golf Club – The Links, Quarry & Preserve Nines
Golf Course Architect Arthur Hills has created three exciting nine-hole layouts at the Bay Harbor Golf Club overlooking Little Traverse Bay on Lake Michigan. The combination of 9’s featuring shoreline bluffs, rugged rock formations, wetlands, and lush woodlands gives golfers three outstanding 18-hole championship golf courses; each with dramatic finishing holes.
A rocky coastline along the cliffs is the feature attraction on the outgoing four holes on The Links nine-hole course. With the winds blowing and the waves pounding into the sand dunes along the shore, golfers can take in some breathtaking views of Bay Harbor as a back drop, but they do have to focus on their shots from undulating fairways to slick, putting surfaces. On the seventh hole, golfers will see a flag in the distance appearing to be floating in the sky as the green is not visible for long approach shots. Don’t wander too far right on this hole or you could be playing off the beach.
Play on the first few holes through a healthy forest doesn’t really reflect what is coming on The Quarry Nine. On the third tee, golfers notice a large bunker guarding the left side of the fairway and along the right a massive drop-off into an old abandoned shale quarry. Care has to be taken on second shots to set up the approach shot to the green situated far below the fairway backed by a wall of natural woods hiding quarry rock. This is where the entertainment begins on a unique golf experience along and through the stone walls of the quarry, complete with natural ponds and a waterfall. An interesting and picturesque par three and four along Lake Michigan provide a strong finish to my favourite nine holes on this Boyne adventure.
A more traditional golf course, The Preserve is cut through a hardwood forest featuring rolling fairways, natural wetlands, large undulating greens and a memorable finishing par-three along Lake Michigan
Crooked Tree Golf Club
Across from The Inn at Bay Harbor and perched on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan is The Crooked Tree Golf Club. The majority of its golf holes are routed through a natural forest of old-growth trees with a variety of elevation changes. At the turn, the golf course opens up with stunning views of Little Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan which enhance the stunning layout recently enhanced by Arthur Hills and his team of architects.
Each resort destination on the Boyne Golf tour in Northern Michigan offers a variety of attractive accommodations year round as well as a variety of dining options from room service to snack or fine dining experiences.
At Boyne Highlands, you can choose to stay at one of their hotels, a private condo, a cottage unit or one of their many home rental units. Wherever you stay, you will have access to all of the amenities offered including Zip-line Adventures, skiing, horse-drawn sleigh rides, golf, dinner theatre, pools, spas and exercise rooms.
The Inn at Bay Harbor is a Renaissance Golf Resort is situated on the shores of Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay offering a variety of rooms, suites and lakeside cottages as well as cottages at the Crooked Tree Golf Club.
Apart from the amazing variety of golf experiences Boyne Golf has to offer in Michigan’s Northern Lower Peninsula, winter activities are also available giving visitors a truly year round vacation experience.
The Boyne Resorts’ portfolio currently includes Michigan’s two premier mountain and golf resorts, Boyne Highlands and Boyne Mountain; and The Inn at Bay Harbor – A Renaissance Golf Resort in Michigan; Big Sky Resort in Montana–founded by the late Chet Huntley in 1970; Brighton Ski Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City, Utah; Crystal Mountain near the Mt. Rainier National Park in Seattle and The Summit at Snoqualmie in Washington; Loon Mountain in New Hampshire; Sugarloaf and Sunday River resorts in Maine; Cypress Mountain near Vancouver, British Columbia–official freestyle skiing and snowboard venue for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games; Gatlinburg Sky Lift near the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
That’s quite an impressive portfolio for a company that began in 1947. The land now known as Boyne Mountain was purchased for $1 and developed by the late Boyne USA Resorts Founder Everett Kircher. Mr. Kircher was primarily interested in ski resorts and eventually began developing golf courses as a means to keep his staff between ski seasons. His first course was a nine-holer at the foot of Boyne Mountain Lodge carved with his family farm tractor.
BOYNE GOLF bills itself as having some of Michigan’s finest golf courses and after my visit to two of their three resort properties on this trip I would have to agree with their claim.