Sweetgrass named National Golf Course of the Year on January 25 | News, Sports, Jobs

Brian Walters Photography Pictured is the 15th hole at Sweetgrass Golf Course in Harris.

HARRIS — Sweetgrass Golf Course has received wide acclaim and platitudes since it opened in 2008. On January 25, the course will earn its highest honor.

Sweetgrass will be named Orlando’s national golf course of the year that day, joining such venerable sites as Pebble Beach Golf Links and Reynolds Plantation in Georgia. It will become the sixth course in Michigan to earn this honor from the National Golf Course Owners Association.

The Jemsek National Course of the Year award is based on outstanding contributions to its community, exceptional course quality, exceptional quality of ownership and management, and significant contributions to the game.

“We were all speechless” said Sweetgrass golf manager Dave Douglas. “We are very honored to win this award.”

The Island Resort & Casino is operated by the Hannahville Indian Community of the Potawatomi Nation and just opened a $33 million expansion as part of an 11-story Palm Tower that expands accommodation capacity to 454 rooms and includes the Horizon Steakhouse and Splash Island, a new family water park.

Managing director Tony Mancilla said the expansion had been developed out of necessity, noting demand and a backlog of weekend accommodation that stretched to 150-200 people.

“Golf (accommodation) was getting crowded (with other activities)”, acknowledged Mancilla.

“Hannahville has always strived to be the best and to deliver the best,” said longtime tribal leader Ken Meshigaud. “We are very proud (of the award). We know we have the product to offer that people will be satisfied with.

“We are very pleased with what he has done for our facility and UP central. We have always praised our staff. What a fantastic group we have there. It shows that Hannahville is trying to do its best in everything. what we do.

Meshigaud said the development of Sweetgrass in addition to the 2018 opening of the nearby Sage Run golf course “is one of the most beneficial additions. It had a huge impact.”

Sweetgrass was named Michigan’s Course of the Year for Region 2 last fall, putting it in contention for the national award. Other vaunted regional winners were Streamsong Red of Bowling Green, Florida in Region 3, Swansea Country Club in Swansea, Mass. in Region 1 and Silverado Resort in Napa, CA. in region 4.

The NGCOA Board of Directors then selected Sweetgrass as the Jemsek National Course of the Year.

“It was a bonus for us” Mancilla said of the national award. “It’s pretty cool. Michigan has so many great courses. That was pretty much our goal (state award). We were excited about it (we had just been considered for the national award). »

Mancilla will participate in Orlando’s rewards program along with Douglas, Scott Herioux and John Holberton.

Michigan’s previous winners of the national award were Stoatin Brae in Augusta in 2021, The Heather in Boyne Highlands in 2019, Forest Dunes in Roscommon in 2016, Scott Lake Country Club in Comstock Park in 2012, and Fox Hills Golf and Banquet Center in Plymouth in 2003. Another former Michigan State winner was Iron Mountain’s TimberStone Golf Course.

Other notable past national recipients include the Pete Dye Course in French Lick, Ind., World Tour Links in Myrtle Beach, SC, and Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love III in Hilton Head, SC.

Sweetgrass was nominated by Kevin Frisch of Gaylord, owner of a PR firm who has worked closely with Island Resort & Casino over the years.

Mancilla said hosting the Symetra Tour since 2011 has been a major boost for women’s golf, with ticket sales reaching $4,000 a year. This proceeds go to the YMCA of Delta County for its youth programs.

“It (Symetra Tour) really promoted women’s golf,” Mancilla said, noting that Sweetgrass and Sage Run are also used for Upper Peninsula High School Finals golf tournaments. “The more you grow, the more it benefits everyone”, said Mancille. “We are on a good trajectory.

The tribe donates a practice lap and the day of the final to the preparations.

Frisch said he named Sweetgrass because “of the quality of golf. They base the criteria on quality, ownership and management, and contributions to the community. What they did with the Symetra event, what they are doing to give back to the community. Everything around him justified the nomination. I felt it would be a perfect, well-deserved nomination. They do an amazing job.

Frisch said the selection of Sweetgrass “further reinforces the quality and quantity of good golf in Michigan.

“That really sets it apart from other places. It is still in very good condition. The quality of maintenance really sets them apart.

He also said that green complexes “are really cool. You always come away thinking about the green complexes. They are still in great shape.”

The greens, which are strongly contoured and generally quite smooth, are distinguished by their unique variety. Island green #15 is probably the most memorable hole as it is highly visible – and intimidating – from the eighth and 12th tee boxes. 12 is a biarritz green, with a valley in the middle which generated several aces during the Symetra tournament.

#4 is a challenging redan green requiring a challenging 5 iron or 3 or 5 wood approach to a long, narrow green that slopes steeply from front to back.

The complex of 9 and 18 is also memorable because the large upper peninsula-shaped green is connected. These greens are switched for the Symetra Tournament, with the par No. 9 serving as the deciding final hole.

Five old Upper Peninsula road bridges – topped by the old Nahma Bridge on No. 15 – stand out on the Sweetgrass Course. Another highlight of the course is the environmentally reclaimed water filtration system which pumps water from the ponds on our. 9-18, which Frisch noted in his nomination.

Sweetgrass’ architect is Paul Albanese of Albanese & Lutzke Golf Designs.

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