Sinclair / Courtesy Grand Traverse Resort
and Gary Player have joined the growing
list of PGA players and champions adding
their signature to Northern Michigan’s
award-winning array of championship golf
courses. Michigan Golf is pleased to bring
you full-length features on both Cedar
River and The Wolverine. Northern Michigan
is also home to the world’s greatest
teaching professionals, which you will
read about in MG’s feature on golf
academies. And Hidden River mixes fins
with feathers (birdies) for a truly memorable
getaway golf adventure.
Cedar River Golf Club
The passion for the game of golf that drove and frustrated
Tom Weiskopf in nearly two decades on the PGA Tour,
has catapulted the former British Open champion to
the top of the field of today’s golf course
The former Ohio State Buckeye, whose playing
career was dwarfed by the shadow of fellow
Nicklaus, has found his own comfort zone. His experience
as a player, his knowledge of the game, and his long
and rewarding apprenticeship with golf architect
Jay Morrish, has made Weiskopf one of the most sought
after designers in golf.
Some of the most famous modern golf courses have
his name on them. Among the award winning designs
are Troon Golf and Country Club in Scottsdale, Double
Eagle in Ohio, and Loch Lomond in Scotland.
When Terry Schieber, Shanty Creek Resort’s
CEO, partner Vic Zucco, and their investors developed
plans for another major golf course to be the centerpiece
of a third resort village for a 540-acre site between
the Summit and Schuss Villages, Weiskopf was at the
top of their list of candidates to design it.
His courses are among the top ranked ones in the
world. We knew Tom was choosy about the jobs he accepted,
and he had never done anything in Michigan,” Schieber
Because of his prickly disposition as a player,
Schieber said they were pleasantly surprised
with Weiskopf, whom they found to be warm, enthusiastic,
and open to ideas.
It was an ideal match between owners and a designer
who said he wanted to be a part of the booming Michigan
In the big, rolling land that separates the Summit
from the Schuss Village, Weiskopf found a designer’s
The three qualities you would hope to have are good
land with changes in elevation, big, mature, trees,
and water like you have here. The sandy soil is conducive
to good drainage and to growing good-quality turf,” Weiskopf
said on a hot summer day, during a working visit
to the site. “You also have ownership that
is committed to doing things the right way, and Terry
and Vic and the other people up here were fantastic.”
Because of his personal, hands-on-approach to
golf course design, Weiskopf accepts no more
jobs at a time, allowing him to spend as much time
as he needs on each site.
When Schieber and the others hired Weiskopf,
they got Weiskopf, not someone from his design
At Shanty Creek he was on the site nearly two dozen
times during construction.
I always work that way. I think attention to detail
is essential,” he said. “Attention to
detail means every time I come out I notice something
that I didn’t see during the last time I was
on site. Every time you go out and look at it, one
question should apply: ‘Is this really right?’”
At Cedar River, Weiskopf got it right.
From the first tee to the last, Cedar River is
a beautiful, challenging golf course. Every hole
naturally over the land and around the features
of the terrain as if they had been there forever.
Weiskopf admires the great traditional golf courses
by old time masters like Alister MacKenzie, Donald
Ross, and A.W. Tillinghast, their influence on
him is seen in the deception and strategy he
factors into each hole.
From the tees some holes look awfully narrow.
On other tees the shot appears to be blind to
green. Yet the narrow fairways are merely illusionary
the land is contoured to hide secondary, or larger
landing areas. The blind shots are only partially
obscured, making for a greater challenge.
Sand bunkers on the fairway are there to direct
the players to the proper line of approach to
greens. The bunkers around greens force better
think their way onto the green, while serving
as a backstop to catch marginal shots before
become real disasters.
While the greens are large, they are not monstrously
so. The undulation is more subtle than severe.
From the back tees the course measures 6,989
yards. From the forward tees it is still a formidable
5,315 yards. With four sets of tees, this course
for the low handicap player and enjoyable for
The first hole will get your attention right
away. This is a lusty Par 4 that measures 458
the tips but will be played by most golfers at
the 427 or 388-yard tees. You need a long drive
left hand side of the fairway to get you in position
for the second shot, over a ravine in front of
This is the No. 1 handicap hole
where a good
start can get you going the rest of the way
There is a symmetry to the holes on each nine.
The early holes play through the woods before
coming out into a meadow where a dazzling stretch
play around a lake. On the back nine the first
holes seem to build the anticipation for the
five finishing holes.
Weiskopf’s favorite hole is the 5th, a tree-lined
442-yard Par 4 that plays straight away with a rolling
swale in the fairway and a huge gully wrapping from
the left front all the way around the the fairly
small elevated green. A big bunker sits on the left
of the green to keep errant shots from rolling down
into the gully.
Out of the woods, the 7th hole is a Par 5 that
sweeps in a dog-leg left around the largest of
lakes on the property. This is a good risk-reward
hole where, depending on how bold you feel, you
can go over the water to slice off a chunk of
distance to the green.
The 8th hole is a dramatic, long, 202-yard Par
3 that has water along the entire left side to
protected by a big bunker wrapping around the
On the back nine, the exclamation points are
the 13th and 14th holes. The 13th is the shortest
4 hole on the course at 297 yards. Strategy,
deception, and a blind shot make this hole a
the tees the fairway runs up to the top of a
ridge where a lone maple tree marks the split
fairway.. To the left of the tree, the lower
fairway is easier
to hit but your second shot is semi blind over
bunkers to the small green.. Going right of the
demands a longer drive on the higher side of
the fairway. If you hit it right and long however
will be delighted when you get to the top of
the ridge to see your ball has rolled down to
of the green.
The 14th is a short Par three, 163 yards from
the back tee. While the entire green is visible
the 50-foot high elevated tee, bunkers on the
left cannot be seen from the tee. The Cedar River runs in the left side of
the green. With the wind blowing this hole is
a match breaker.
Ironically, the original routing Weiskopf drew
up had the holes playing over the river. Environmental
opposition, however, made him rethink his design
thus these two fabulous holes.
The tees for the 15th hole are on one of the
highest spots on the course, allowing players
to look back and watch how others negotiate
This is a long Par 4 at 508 yards from the back tees.
The 18th is a classic finishing hole, the No. 2 handicap hole at 604 yards
from the back and 581 from the blue tees. The elevated tees demand a long
the right side of the fairway to allow a second shot that will make the top
of a hill overlooking a peninsula green with water on the right front wrapping
the back of the green. On the left is a network of bunkers waiting for the
faint of heart who bailed left.
The green sits in a bowl beneath the beautiful
new Lodge at Cedar River lodge. Every floor
of the four-story building has huge picture
everyone inside to have a clear view of the approach and the 18th green.
The 84-suite condominium hotel is a stunning
study in rustic luxury. Local pine, oak, birch,
and stone was used to give the structure an
The pro shop and cart barn will be in the lower level of one of the wings
of the hotel.
Golf Course, Grand Traverse Resort
The new Wolverine Golf Course at Grand Traverse
Resort is everything the resort’s
original course, The Bear, is not.
Jack Nicklaus designed the Bear
with plenty of teeth at the request of the resort’s
former owner who wanted the toughest of tracks for championship play, that would
, in turn generate plenty of attention for the resort. The Bear and its mystique
has certainly lived up to those expectations.
With first dibs on the land, Nicklaus used the
best and a lot of it, as the Bear prowls away
from the resort, out into the spacious solitude
and over pretty wetlands and back again.
In designing the Wolverine course, the Gary Player Group did not have that
luxury of space or prime land. To make their routing work and have the
and end at the new clubhouse adjacent to the resort’s main parking lot,
the Wolverine nipped out a chunk of the Spruce Run course. Spruce Run lost more
than 400 yards from its former length of 6,741 yards and now plays to a Par 70
at 6,300 from the back tees.
The Wolverine is an attractive resort track that
plays much more gently than the Bear, and will
be much better suited for moving groups of
around the course. The bunkering is very good, and the white sand adds
exclamation points on every hole.
The front nine is a fairly tight collection of
holes that plays almost straight out, away
from the clubhouse and parking lot, and then
M-72., the main east-west road into Traverse City, running along side.
The back nine is more of a northern Michigan
parkland setting, with rolling land and drops
in elevation. Several of those holes , however,
than the wide open front nine, also run along another highway, the north-south
Placing the front nine next to M-72 highway is
both good and bad for the golf course.
The good is that they are very attractive golf
holes, with white sand bunkers, and pretty
wetland, natural advertising that are more
visible than any
billboard for everyone to see as they drive by. The drawback, however,
The traffic on M-72 is constant and there is no escaping the roar as trucks
vans go by.
The Wolverine is fully grown, at 7,038 yards
from the tips, 6,568 from the blue tees, 5,986
from the whites, and 5,029 from the forward
Number one is a good starting hole, playing downhill
at 408 yards from the back tees which are set
in a stand of trees. A grouping of bunkers
forces you to play left, the best position for approaching the slightly
elevated green guarded by a right-front bunker.
The fairways for holes No. 2 and 8 may be the
two most narrow ones on the course. They lay
side-by-side, with another fairway from the
Holes three through five are fairly flat, reminiscent
of some Florida holes as they wind around patches
of wetland and water. The third is a challenging,
Par 5 at 487 yards that curves left around a small lake. This hole has
birdie all over it if you can cut off a good chunk of the fairway by driving
ball over the water and up the fairway.
The two Par 3’s on the front side are strong holes. The fifth is a lusty
217 yards from the back tees that requires a big carry over scrub brush and water
in the left front of the green. The ninth, 196 from the back, is a pretty hole
that plays down hill into the side of the hill below the first tee. A long bunker
and water lurks to the left of the green.
The best holes are on the back nine, with a very
strong finish from 13 through 18.
The 10th, a 436-yard Par 4 is cut through a thick
stand of trees and is one of the prettier holes
on the course.
The 13th is another Par 4 at 409 yards. The fairway
doglegs right with a big landing area and water
wrapping behind the green.
The 14th is the pause that refreshes, the shortest
Par 3 on the course at 183 yards from the back
tees. The drive is open to the green where
of a bunker wraps around the front of the green. Five tee positions are
possible on this hole. From the back you must hit over a bukner that guards
of the green. From the forward tee, the bunker is out of play, leaving
a open shot to the green. From any tee the view is gorgeous in the spring
cherry trees blossom into a stunning backdrop.
The 15th is known as the “rock’ hole” for the piles of rock
than line the the left side of the fairway and the bank of a creek on that side.
A network of bunkers dot the right side and up to the green.
The 16th is one of the best and toughest holes.
It plays uphill in a dog-leg around a stand
of trees with a big maple at the apex where
flows down to the green.
The 17th is semi-circular cape hole that wraps around a small lake,
defying players to cut the corner over the water. At 392 yards from
the back tees,
a big gamble.
The Wolverine finishes with a snarl from a big 592-yard par 5 from
the back. Even though it’s fairly straight, the fairway appears to have a double
dog leg with a U- shaped bunker complex on the left side of the fairway.
The Wolverine is a collection of mostly good, artistic holes that should
be fun to play for players of all skill levels. However the course
does not have
the “up-north” feel
or look of The Bear, or other major courses in the area.
At a kick-off reception before construction nearly four years ago,
Player promised to build a nice course that players of all skills
and enjoy. The
Wolverine keeps that promise.
The opening of the course last summer also marked the debut of
the superb, big fieldstone and wood clubhouse that services all
designed by Colorado architect, Jim Nordilie, who has an office
in Charlevoix. Nordilie also takes the credit for Boyne’s spectacular Inn at Bay Harbor.
This very handsome display of architecture looks rights at home
in its rustic, northern Michigan surroundings.