The sun never sets on the lakeside Inn at Bay Harbor in northern Michigan
PETOSKEY, Mich. - It’s days like this one that remind me why Northern Michigan is arguably the nation’s most overlooked golf destination.
Golf magazines and writers like me continue to tout its beauty, but so few golfers outside of the Midwest venture this far north to actually experience it. It’s like the southern golfers think grass ceases to grow above the Mason-Dixon line and those spoiled brats on the left coast think the Rocky Mountains divides the haves from the have-nots.
Everything about today was a travel writer’s dream (except of course my erratic golf game). I awoke from my slumber at the Inn at Bay Harbor to a buffet breakfast that was an embarrassment of riches: make-your-own waffles, fresh fruit, an omelette station and sausage-gravy and biscuits that would make any southerner squeal.
By 8 a.m., the sun was already high in the sky with just a slight breeze off of Little Traverse Bay. The views of Lake Michigan stretch for miles from the Bay Harbor Golf Club, home to 27 holes by Arthur Hills and Boyne USA Resorts President of Eastern Operations Stephen Kircher. There are some rugged par-5s and even more scenic par-3s (see above) on the Links, Quarry and Preserve nines. I toured all 27 holes with a pair of birdies and bunches of bogeys (or worse) in a little more than four hours. Sweet, right?
The greens were as fast as I’ve ever seen them and the rough thicker than usual just in time for an upcoming member event. There’s talk of Hills coming in to shave down some of his more penal mounding, which was all the rage when the course opened in the late 1990s. The player-friendly renovations could be the key to making a very good golf course even better.
After an afternoon lounging by the pool back at the Inn, dinner on the patio at The South American Grille and Wine Bar was followed with a dessert of s’mores by fireside along the lake. The colors displayed by the sunset reminded me of Maui. People were snapping photos and just hanging out on the lawn, soaking up the pink and purple hues.
It’s moments like these that Bay Harbor feels like a luxury oceanfront retreat, thankfully one without the usual surcharge for the fresh air and the waves lapping the sandy shores.
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