Destination: Lansing and Mt. Pleasant
by Kelly Hill
Scores of ancient Roman philosophers spent their lives searching for the peace they believed they would find at the "center."
Scores of Michigan golfers are spending no time finding their peace_in the center of the state_Lansing and Mount Pleasant. Some of those golfers also find the Soaring Eagle when searching for their elusive birdies. Here is a quick look at some of the golfing peace to be found in the center of the state, Lansing and Mount Pleasant:
The state's capital often is a golf destination found by players headed further north, or headed to the Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant. People from the Detroit area often play here on their way up to the casino or on their way back," said Dru Mitchell of ROI Golf Management, Inc., which operates three courses_Eldorado Golf Course, Hawk Hollow Golf Course and Timber Ridge Golf Course in the greater Lansing area. "People might need an emergency nine holes on their way up so they can play here and still get up there in plenty of time to go to the casino." The ROI Golf Management courses also package play with several Lansing area courses. "We offer great discounts on golf with our 'Destination Lansing ' packages," Mitchell said. "And the hotels we work with offer great rates."
Eldorado Golf Course
A "very friendly course," as described by Mitchell of ROI Golf, Eldorado is a 27-hole layout which had its third nine holes added four years ago. Eldorado is located at 3750 W. Howell Rd. in Mason. In addition to Eldorado, ROI Golf manages Hawk Hollow in Bath and Timber Ridge in East Lansing. "All three offer golfers a good challenge but they all are playable courses," Mitchell said. "From a difficulty standpoint, Eldorado probably is the easiest to play." (517-676-2854).
Hawk Hollow Golf Course
Another 27-hole track, with 18 holes that measure almost 7,000 yards, Hawk Hollow features numerous water hazards and vistas, as it was constructed around gravel pits which are no longer mined. "Played from the tips, this course is extremely challenging," said Mitchell, who said Hawk Hollow was the most difficult of the three courses managed by ROI Golf. "Hawk Hollow has a lot of water. It was constructed around the gravel pits but when the course was cut, care was taken to take full advantage of the water, to make every hole as scenic as possible. This is a very scenic course." (888-411-4295).
Timber Ridge Golf Course
Carved out of a former tree farm, yet opened up enough to provide friendly conditions, Timber Ridge is a secluded, picturesque challenge. "Timber Ridge is reminiscent of a Northern Michigan course," Mitchell said. "It may be an old tree farm but it's open enough that it doesn't beat you up. All three of our courses also are very service oriented," Mitchell concluded. (800-874-3432).
Ready for its fourth season, The Emerald in St. Johns is a Jerry Matthews course that features bent grass greens, tees and fairways. Playing 6,201 yards with a 120 slope rating from the middle set of tees, The Emerald has hosted numerous Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) regional tournaments and this year will be the site of the Michigan Women's Publinx Championship. "This is a very scenic golf course," said Ed Kelbel, the course's general manager and PGA professional. "It is real playable yet it is a good challenge because the greens have some roll to them. We get a lot of repeat play here, which tells me they are having fun." Located on US-27, The Emerald is now easily and quickly reached from Lansing or points north by the St. Johns bypass. "The bypass has really helped us," Kelbel said. "It has cut the trip from Lansing in half." Consistently maintained by superintendent Scott Depuydt, The Emerald added seven new bunkers last fall. "A lot of people who play here tell us they are going to or coming from the casino; we are very accessible," Kelbel said. (800-355-1635).
Forest Akers Golf Course
Located on the East Lansing campus of Michigan State University, Forest Akers offers two 18-hole courses that perennially serve as the host course of the MHSAA state championship tournaments. The East course plays 6,559 yards and Forest Akers West plays 7,003. (517-355-1635).
Central Michigan University and Soaring Eagle Casino make Mount Pleasant a popular stop in the heart of the state, but numerous superior golf courses make this city a destination for more than class or cash. Most of these courses operate in conjunction with numerous area hotels and bed and breakfasts, and all offer reasonable packages.
Eagle Glen Golf Course
With huge undulating greens, natural wetlands, 70 bunkers and hundreds of mounds, Ray Hearn and Jerry Matthews have attempted to recreate a small corner of Scotland 23 miles north of Mount Pleasant. Eagle Glen features a slope rating of 133 and 72.6 course rating from the back tees. (517-588-4424).
Firefly Golf Links
Located in Clare, 21 miles north of Mount Pleasant, this course plays 5,811 yards from the back tees, but with water coming into play on 13 of the 18 holes, Firefly proves that a course need not be long to be challenging. (517-386-3510).
Hidden Oaks Golf Course
Central Michigan's newest championship golf course, located in St. Louis, the original nine holes were known as Edgewood Hills and were designed by Bruce and Jerry Matthews. The new nine holes, which also are a Jerry Matthews design, are scheduled to be opened on June 1. "The completed 18 holes are beautiful," said Hidden Oaks' Ed Dangler. "It's got everything you could want, beautiful scenery and really exciting challenges. We feel people will want to play it again and again." Located on M-46 one mile east of US-27, Hidden Oaks plays 6,168 yards from the middle tees and features a 129 slope rating and 72.6 course rating. (517-681-3664).
The sister course to PohlCat (see below), this course is located on East Pickard Road in Mount Pleasant. This is a par-62 executive course with no hole longer than 316 yards (517-772-2905).
The Pines at Lake Isabella
A Bruce Matthews design that combines the beauty of Lake Isabella and the Chippewa River, The Pines is located 15 minutes west of Mount Pleasant. "We offer a quality golf course and quality service, not necessarily in that order," said general manager Ed Andreck. "There are no tricks on the golf course; it's a solid golf course and the greens are excellent." The host of 15 Michigan Publinx Championships, The Pines plays 6,900 yards from the championship tees. "We service all types of golfers," Andreck said, "and we service them all the same. We are happy to have beginning golfers as well as advanced golfers." (517-644-2300).
Pleasant Hills Golf Club
This course, which features a chalet style clubhouse, is located two miles south of Mount Pleasant. It plays 6,012 yards over gently rolling hills and finely manicured greens. (517-772-0487).
Designed by PGA Tour pro Dan Pohl, this course, which is located a half mile north of Soaring Eagle Casino, was named by Golf Digest as one of America's 12 best new courses in 1992. With a course rating of 73.3 and a slope rating of 133, this 6,899-yard track remains one of central Michigan's top attractions. "This is a stopping point for people going north; a lot of people play here on their way up or on their way down," said PohlCat's John Brehm. With 6.5 miles of paved cart paths and seven bridges over the Chippewa River, "this course has country club conditions," according to Brehm. Bent grass greens, tees and fairways contribute to that perception of PohlCat. This course also features USGA-graded "best sand," which was shipped on a barge across Lake Erie. "A lot of people feel like they are in Northern Michigan," Brehm said. "Golf in Mount Pleasant has become huge because of the Soaring Eagle Casino and the fact that it's half the distance it is up north. When you get a group of people that comes to the casino, two or three or four of them are going to want to sneak over here. People are getting as good or better golf here, with the 'Up-North' atmosphere." A Bruce Matthews-designed course currently is under construction adjacent to PohlCat. "The casino is doing golf packages with us now and we have a package with St. Ives (see below), so we are going to need that other course," Brehm said. That new course will feature 11 holes near the Chippewa River. (800-STALK-18).
Operated by the family of LPGA pro Cindy Figg-Courier, Riverwood is a small resort through which runs the Chippewa River. The resort, which features 27 holes and 32 guest villas, is located one mile west of Mount Pleasant. "This is a mature course and its rolling terrain makes it a good track," said Terry Summerville, who is the office manager at Riverwood and who also noted that her sister, Figg-Courier, was only six weeks old when their family began its operation. "It is challenging yet fun here," Summerville said, "and that's why people like it. Our rough is yielding but the course still gives you a good challenge." With a 127 slope rating from the middle tees, Riverwood can play as long as 6,600 yards or as short as 4,952. The two-day State Junior Tournament, which has been played at Riverwood since 1970, is scheduled for July 8-9 this year. Located 90 minutes from Grand Rapids and two and a half hours from Detroit, Riverwood also attracts casino traffic. "The casino makes Mount Pleasant an interesting place to go in the evening," Summerville said. "You can golf all day and then go gambling at night. It makes this a more interesting destination." (800-882-5211).
Snow Snake Golf Course
This course, which received a rating of 3-1/2 stars by Golf Digest in 1998, features tree-lined fairways, bent grass greens and tees and a slope rating of 133 from the back tees, which play 6,025 yards. (517-539-6583).
St. Ives Golf Club
Named the fifth-best new public course in the United States and Canada by Golf Digest in 1997, St. Ives is located 35 miles west of Mount Pleasant, off M-20. "It's a spectacular golf course, every hole is spectacular," said St. Ives pro Kevin O'Brien. "We have 18 signature holes out here." A Jerry Matthews design, St. Ives features four sets of tees, the championship tees playing 6,702 yards with a slope rating of 141 and a 74.1 course rating. "Most of our players start out playing the white tees," O'Brien said. "This is a risk and reward course and it looks harder than it is. That's why we get so much repeat play." With regular elevation changes of between 40 and 80 feet, every hole provides a spectacular vista. "Dramatic changes in elevation provide panoramic views," O'Brien said. "We also pride ourselves in our service here. Here it's not what you shoot, it's the great experience you have." (800-972-4837).
The Tamaracks Golf Course
Located 35 miles north of Mount Pleasant in the city of Harrison, The Tamaracks features water on half of its 18 holes. The course plays 5,760 yards and is a par-70. (888-838-1162).
Winding Brook Golf Club
Water, hills and valleys provide a challenge for golfers of any age or ability. This 6,614-yard layout provides a challenging yet scenic experience 10 miles south of Mount Pleasant on US-27. (517-828-6618).
You can contact us at
Copyright© Great Lakes Sports Publications, Inc.