Saturday, July 20, 2013

Upper Peninsula of Michigan Golf

The Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan, contains 16,452 square miles (42,610 km²), almost one-third of the land area of the state. It is about one half the size of either Scotland or Ireland. The maximum east-west distance in the Upper Peninsula is about 320 miles (515 km), and the maximum north-south distance is about 125 miles (200 km). It is bounded on the north by the world's largest freshwater body, Lake Superior, on the east by St. Mary's River, on the south by Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, and on the west by Wisconsin and (counting the water border on Lake Superior) by Minnesota. It has about 1,700 miles (2,700 km) of continuous shoreline with the Great Lakes. There are about 4,300 inland lakes, over 100 waterfalls, and 12,000 miles (19,000 km) of streams. Snowfall in the winter can reach up to 390 inches along the Lake Superior shoreline. Lake Superior surface area is 31,700 sq miles, max depth is 1,276 ft, volume is 3 quadrillion gallons. It takes between 191-199 years to turnover all its water.

The population as of 2010, was 311,000 which is about 3% of the states total. In the past 100 years the population has actually declined, due to the decrease in mining activity. Marquette is the largest city with over 20,000 people. It has a major medical center, Northern Michigan University with its over 10,000 students, and a Federal prison with 1,100 inmates. The U.P. is a great area for outdoor activities including biking, hiking, hunting and fishing, skiing, ice hockey, and snowmobiling. If you enjoy gambling there are way too many Indian casinos to leave your hard earned $$ at. Of course the main summer sport is golf. The weather temps are in the 70's and dry with long days to provide great golfing.

Currently there are 55+ active golf courses (778 holes), it is one of the highest regions in the world for population/golf course ratio. 31 of the courses are eighteen holes and 24+ have nine holes (one course starts in Wisconsin and has 4 holes in the U.P.). There are about ten other courses that no longer exit (NLE). The Greywalls Course at Marquette GC located in Marquette is the jewel of all the It is rated in both Golf Digest and Golfweek as a top 10 in the state and a Golfweek top 100 Modern course. Timberstone in Iron Mountain is another course that is consistently mentioned in the top state 25. Other fine 18 hole courses are Sage Run, Pine Grove, Sweetgrass, Hessel Ridge, Wild Bluff, Heritage Course at Marquette GC, and The Rock on Drummond Island. Keweenaw Mountain Lodge in Copper Harbor and Wawashkamo on Mackinac Island are two of my favorite classic 9 hole tracks with Blue Heron (NLE) being a sleeper in Germfask. For complete rankings of the U.P. courses I have played check out the courses by state/region section on my blog. By the end of the 2015 season I will have played all of the Upper Peninsula courses.* 2018 Sage Run opened.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Castle Stuart Golf Links- 2013 Scottish Open

At Castle Stuart Golf Links, site of this weeks Scottish Open, I viewed some of the most vivid colors on a golf course. The Gorse was in full bloom and the white Art Deco clubhouse only enhanced the beauty of this course along the Moray Firth. Not since playing The European Club last Spring have I seen any thing comparable.

The challenging ground game stimulates ones imagination of the various ways you can play each hole. Castle Stuart is a course that I could visit many times and never tire of the experience. I now know why Gil Hanse was chosen as designer of the 2016 Olympics Venue over so many other talented architects. I hope one day to return to this slice of heaven. Enjoy the slideshow below:

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Scottish courses I want to play again

Back in the USA, a few days removed from Scotland, has given me some time to reflect on my most recent trip. At my age there are way too many golf courses that I want to experience then I will ever be able to play. So returning and playing all the courses a second time is not an option. These are a few that would warrant consideration for a replay if I get the opportunity again.
Royal Dornoch- my favorite course of the whole trip. What great flow and transitions from one elevation to the other. Played it twice, could play it everyday.
Old Course- found it a bit quirky and target like golf to stay away from the bunkers. Nothing better than the challenge of the Road Hole and the ambiance of the 18th green surrounded on two sides by people watching you putt out. St Andrews is the most charming golf town I have ever visited. Got to love all the golf shops and 19th holes within a short walk of your last stroke.
Kingsbarns and Castle Stuart- Great ground game options and imagination needed at both of these.
Abernethy(9)- always nice for a small course to exceed your expectations. This whole area in the beautiful Cairngorms National Park and Abernethy Forest was a real surprise to me, in that there was a downhill ski resort in Scotland. Ski able snow was still visible in the mountain tops.

Watch for photos of all 19 courses to appear over the upcoming weeks, scattered with a few posts about the trip. Today, I start out with my #1-Royal Dornoch.