Monday, October 26, 2009

Entertainment Book provides savings on, off the golf course

As the 2009 golf season winds down this fall, it’s time to look ahead to 2010.

Finding the best bang for your golfing buck will continue to be a theme next year as Michigan digs itself out of this economic black hole.

A membership with the Golf Association of Michigan and its swing and save program is a great way to save on greens fees. So is the site, But I’ve discovered another one. The 2010 Entertainment Guide for greater metro Detroit is out already and just waiting for golfers to take advantage of its deals and savings.

The book, available at, claims more than $17,800 in savings inside, including many opportunities that golfers will love. The golf section contains coupons to more than 30 courses, the best of the bunch being Beacon Hill in Commerce Township, the Huntmore in Brighton Township, Cherry Creek in Shelby Township and Rattle Run near St. Clair. With the coupon, you can buy a green fee to get a second one free.

Several driving ranges and miniature golf courses offer a similar deal – buy something, get the second bucket or putt-putt round at no cost. But the savings go far beyond the course. Let’s say your foursome wants to head out to dinner after the round. There are hundreds of restaurants to choose from, notably pubs, bars and pizza joints perfect for a foursome’s night out.

You can even buy discounted equipment. Pro Golf Discount has a web coupon that takes 17 percent off your entire order. Dunham’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods each have several options, the best being $20 off $100 purchased from Dick’s or $10 off $50 purchased from Dunham’s.

Creative golfers who love to travel can use coupons for rental cars, hotels and even flights. Some even buy the entertainment book, at a cost of $25-$45 thru the web site or through fundraisers, for the destination they’re headed to and take advantage of the coupon savings there. Get more, pay less. I like that.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Michigan voted as America's 11th-best golf destination

A top 10 would have been nice.

But considering the competition, it's not too shabby that Michigan was just voted the 11th-best golf destination in America by readers of Golf World. My personal vote would probably put it somewhere in the top eight in heated competition with places like northern California (Pebble Beach), Pinehurst, N.C.; Florida, Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Kohler, Wisconsin; the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama and Bandon, Oregon.

Considering that most of those other places have a year-round golf season, it's a miracle that Michigan is even in the mix at all. It speaks volumes to the quality and depth of Michigan's product. With more than 800 public courses, Michigan is the public golf capital of the world.

I read in Golf Digest a few years back that only California had more four star courses than Michigan. Both had more than 100. Think about that. You could spend 5 or more summers trying to play the best the state had to offer and still not see them all.

Forest Dunes Golf Club in Roscommon also made headlines during the reader survey, taking top honors for the most popular public course category. That's amazing considering how far out of the way the course is. Yet the effort to find the Tom Weiskopf course is rewarded with a stunning clubhouse and one of the most pure golf experiences in Michigan. The waste bunkers bring the best of the North Carolina sandhills to meld with the pristine woods of northern Michigan for some great golf. The management by Troon Golf ensures that every guest is well cared for.

With any readership poll, there are some quirks in the rankings. Arcadia Bluffs ranked 16th in the public course category (fair enough), but the unheard of Cedar Chase course in Cedar Springs made the list at No. 23, followed by Eagle Eye in Bath (27th), Bucks Run in Mount Pleasant (30th), Pilgrims Run in Pierson (31st) and Shepherd's Hollow (tie for 4oth). Maybe some ballot-box stuffing was done for Cedar Chase, but the others are all worthy candidates.

In the resort category, the Resorts of Tullymore checked in at No. 27, high praise for a resort still in the development stages, beating out rivals like Treetop Resort in Gaylord (32nd), the Inn at Bay Harbor in Petoskey (38th) and the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa in Acme (45th).

Again, like I wrote a few weeks ago, rankings are subjective and worth noting but hardly worth living by. Any Michigan course or resort that made these lists are worthy of a visit. Choosing which one you like best is part of personal preference and part of the fun of it all.

Monday, October 12, 2009

GAM provides access to private clubs

The Golf Association of Michigan continues to create new benefits so good for members, it's hard to fathom why every golfer in the state hasn't joined in the fun.

The GAM now offers members a chance to play unused tee times at private clubs throughout the state. At any time of the day or night, GAM members can look at the GAM home page to see what clubs have thrown tee times into the pool for outside play. You can book up to a week in advance.

Now you don't have to scheme about jumping the fence to bag that trophy course you've always dreamed of playing.

When I checked the site this morning, I found tee times at Wabeek Country Club; the Wyndgate; Boulder Lakes Golf Club, Davison Country Club and Grosse Ile Golf & Country Club and Western Golf & Country Club. Since I've never played at any of these courses, if the weather was a bit nicer, I'd be jumping at these opportunities.

The price quoted once you click on a tee time includes golf, cart and driving range (if available). For example, a tee time at Wabeek, a Pete Dye design, would have cost $50 per player.

The GAM touts the program as a great opportunity for GAM members to play different courses and experience the benefits of private club membership. The reality is few players are looking for country club memberships these days. I look at it as an opportunity to knock off the bucket list of courses you and your friends have wanted to play but haven't had access to before.

Last year, the GAM introduced a similar program that opened private clubs to public players. The "GAM Golf Days" are competitions held every Monday all season long at private clubs around the state. For a minimal cost of $55, tournament competitors tee it up at places like the Country Club of Lansing and other prestigous clubs for a shot at prizes in net and gross divisions, depending on your handicap.

Questions about the new tee time program should be directed to the GAM membership department at (248) 478-9242 ext. 19 (Don't call the club direct). For info on Golf Days, contact coordinator Chris Mills at (248) 478-9242 ext. 30 or

Even if the weather continues to fizzle out this fall, consider these programs in your planning for playing next summer. The deals to experience some top-notch private clubs are priceless. Consider yourself a member for a day.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Free golf up north!

Free golf? Where?

Well, as we all know, nothing is free. But these promotions for great golf in northern Michigan are as close as it gets.

The Gaylord Golf Mecca's FREE Fall Golf Weekend is set for Oct. 16-18. Visitors who book an overnight stay at one of the participating hotels will be able to play a FREE round of golf on one of the participating Gaylord Golf Mecca courses. Golfers simply call one of the participating hotels to book your room and mention you would like to participate in the FREE Golf Weekend. The hotel will then make the tee-time and present a golf certificate to golfers upon check in. The certificate is then presented to the golf course in order to get the FREE round of golf.

If you've been reading this blog you know my love for Gaylord and its mix of 21 different courses. It's a convenient destination right of of I-75 and there's a price point for everyone, from standard hotels to the more golf-centric resorts like Treetops Resort and the Otsego Club and Marsh Ridge.

Also to note, the Hawk's Eye Resort in Bellaire will hand out free golf on The Chief for the remainder of the season starting Oct. 5. All it costs is the $20 cart fee Monday thru Thursday or $30 on the weekend. I've only played The Chief once and the shortish John Robinson design ate me for lunch. I thought I could drive up north, hop out of the car after five hours and tangle with a course that measures just 6,600 yards from the tips. How wrong I was. About 8 holes into my round, I moved up a tee box. The Chief isn't the real draw here, but for that price, it's a steal. The Hawk's Eye course is one of the top 10 courses up north.

As I write this post, the weather outside -- it's pouring rain on my roof -- reminds me why golf courses up north are dying for your business. They're trying to squeeze in a couple more rounds before they close for the season. But if the weather breaks, you could be the one smiling.