Guss takes charges at Treetops Academy

By Len Ziehm

GAYLORD, MI. — Treetops has grown into – arguably at least – Michigan’s most spectacular golf resort and one of its main features is its teaching program.

Started in 1990 by Rick Smith and Henry Young, the school thrived as the Rick Smith Golf Academy and Smith became prominent far beyond his home state as both a teacher and course designer. His success as an instructor at Treetops led to him eventually becoming a swing guru for Phil Mickelson and he now also works with PGA Tour players Rory Sabbatini, Jerry Kelly and Sang-Moon Bae – winner of this year’s Byron Nelson Classic.

Treetops Academy MichiganSmith remains the owner and architect for three courses – Tradition, Signature and Threetops – at Treetops North. Threetops is widely regarded as America’s best par-3 course.

Inevitably, Smith’s success in teaching and course architecture led to his spending more time away from Michigan – he’s even designing a course in China now — and that led to a revamping and renaming on the teaching side. It’s now the Rick Smith and Jason Guss Golf Academy. Continue reading

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New lodge creates a rebirth for Michigan’s Forest Dunes

By Len Ziehm

ROSCOMMON, Mich. – There never was a doubt about the quality of the 18 holes at Forest Dunes. The course has consistently been ranked as the No. 2 public layout in golf-rich Michigan, behind Arcadia Bluffs.

A Tom Weiskopf design that opened in 1999, Forest Dunes is –in the words of general manager Todd Campbell — “in the middle of nowhere.” Still, the national course raters have found it. Golf Digest had it No. 20 among America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses for 2011-12 and No.99 among America’s Greatest 100 for the same period. GolfWeek ranked Forest Dunes No. 87 on its Best Modern Courses list.
Ausable Woods at Forest Dunes Continue reading

Island Hills has cottages available now

By Len Ziehm

CENTREVILLE, Mich. — The Scott family’s five 18-hole courses aren’t far from either Island Hills or Yarrow Golf & Conference Resort. All are near the bigger Michigan cities of Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, but the facilities are all quite different – in a good way. Between them they make Southwest Michigan a convenient golf getaway location, especially for players from the Chicago area.

Island Hills has been my most frequent stop in the area, and its owner Bob Griffioen is one of the most progressive golf operators in the country. Located in Centreville, Island Hills features a Ray Hearn-designed course, one of about 25 the architect has had a role in creating in his home state.

Hearn’s original designed opened in 1999. Griffin purchased the property in 2009 and brought Hearn back for extensive renovations in 2010.
Signature Cottages at Island HillsThis year, though, the story at Island Hills isn’t about what Hearn has done to what is already a quality layout playable by all levels of golfers. This spring Griffioen and Andy Mears, who moved over from Indiana’s Swan Lake to become Island Hills’ president and chief operating officer, unveiled much-needed lodging at the facility.
Island Hills has in effect entered the resort business with the opening of the first three Signature Point Cottages overlooking the par-3 17th hole. Each has four and five-bedroom units with meeting/recreation rooms on the lower levels. Continue reading

Help the First Tee of Greater Chicago during the BMW Championship

Good friends and PGA TOUR Professionals, Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald have pledged to support The First Tee of Greater Chicago by donating $1,000 for every birdie and $2,000 for every eagle they make at the BMW Championship, September 9-15, at Conway Farms Golf Club, Lake Forest, IL.

Please consider joining in this effort to support The First Tee of Greater Chicago by pledging to donate as little as $1, $2 or more for every birdie and eagle that Sergio & Luke make at The BMW! Continue reading

Rory McIlroy and Gary Woodland to Compete in Driving Challenge to Kick Off BMW Championship

BMW Championship - Round ThreeThe 2013 BMW Championship will kick off on Tuesday, September 10 when PGA TOUR golfer and defending champion Rory Mcllroy competes in a driving challenge with PGA TOUR golfer Gary Woodland in a BMW i3, the new first purpose built electric vehicle made primarily of carbon fiber. Continue reading