Michigan Golfer ON-LINE

The Mackinaw Club
by Art McCafferty

The Mackinaw Club, a new course located on the outskirts of Mackinaw City, is but one of a number of projects that is transferring this area known more as a destination launching point than a destination. For years, people have been going to Mackinaw City to get to the Upper Peninsula, Canada, Mackinac Island or get their first hit of up north fudge. But, according to Brad Jones of the Mackinaw City CVB, this is all about to change. The city, which now has 3000 rooms in its 45 lodging properties and a newness to its streets and sidewalks, will be the envy of the state as it launches its first golf course as a Disney-ish type of development, the 40 million dollar Courtyards.

These collective projects will knock Michiganders' collective socks off this year. But -- hold that thought. We will bring all of this news to you in our July issue of the Michigan Golfer that will focus on golf in the Mackinaw City, Mackinac Island, Sault Ste. Marie and Drummond Island areas.

The Mackinaw Club has tremendous blood lines. Jim and Dick Carter, Mackinaw Club owners, have been building golf courses for some of the best known golf architects for years. They have worked with golf architects Jerry Matthews, Bruce Matthews and Ron Otto on a variety of courses -- The Emerald, The Pohlcat, St. Ives, Michawye, The Jewel, Timber Ridge, Railside, Wallinwood, Lake View Hills, Birchwood, Treetops, Hill's Heart of the Lakes and Eagle Glen to name but a few.

It was Jerry Matthews who suggested that a course was sorely needed in Mackinaw City. He envisioned a golf tournament that would include courses on Mackinac Island, in St. Ignace and Mackinaw City. With the addition of the Mackinaw Club, we are two-thirds of the way there.

The Carters began their quest for some land a number of years ago, but were unsuccessful. The biggest landowner in the area is the State of Michigan and they did not have any on the docket at the time. However, on a drive one day, Mary Carter asked about a piece of land that had served a number of purposes over the years.

The land owned by the city used to be an emergency landing strip for B-25's that were using one of the islands in Lake Huron for bombing runs in W.W. II. It later provided the site for a snowmobile race and most recently hosted a kite festival.

The city owned the land and was interested in the project. They gave final approval for the land buy on January 15, 1996. On January 16, Dick and Jim were out digging their irrigation pond in 20 degree below zero weather. Their early start enabled them to get the course ready for early seeding and enough of a grow period for some play on the front nine this past fall. They will open the front nine on May 23 and the Grand Opening for the entire course will be held on June 21.

Golfers will find this Jerry Matthews' course designed for playability and fast rounds. There is but one bunker on the course and only a few wetlands to negotiate. The topography is fairly flat with only a 25 foot drop on the entire course. Oh yes, there is one other hazard, the wind. The climate can change pretty fast in the north by the big lakes, so customers might want to order a sweatshirt with their order of hot dogs and beer at the turn.

Mary Carter will be the on-site management for the course and Jack Carter, Dick's son, will be superintendent. James "JP" Pauling will be the managing pro. They are all excited about the opportunity to have their own course in the family and will try their best to bring golfers affordable and challenging golf and whole lots of fun. Speaking of lots, there will be a number of home sites available on property starting around 40K.

This is the year you drive up to Mackinaw City and make that your destination. You can play the new Mackinaw Club course and then wander through the new Courtyards in Mackinaw City. For further information call the course at 1-616-537-4955 or www.webgolfer.com/mackinawclub

For information on Mackinaw City call 1-800-666-0160 or find them on the Web at www.mackinawcity.com

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