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Player’s Corner TRAVEL

JOY IN CHARLEVOIX: Belvedere’s restoration warrants the compliment of “Crystal Downs Lite.”

Fry found plenty to love about the South site, beginning with a massive 310 acres of subtly rolling terrain with no development in sight. While you can’t see Lake Michigan and there is no water on the course, you will feel the wind, averaging 10-15 mph and up. With holes routed in all four directions of the compass, golfers will be fully tested by the breezes. Macdonald, a pupil of Old Tom Morris, saw no benefit from trees on a golf course, reasoning that they just block the wind and views. So after clearing the site of trees except for one (and transplanting more than 450 to the course’s perimeter), Fry was left with a pure sand base in which to ply his trade. “This is God’s country for building golf courses,” Fry enthused on a tour of the course in late August, “and the best grow-in I’ve ever seen.” The par-72 layout, designed to be easily walkable, features five sets of tees ranging from 5,261 to 7,412 yards. Green fees are set below the Bluffs at $150 in high season, with appealing deals for twilight and replays. There will be a clubhouse and driving range, but no other development is planned. Meanwhile, Arcadia has unveiled the new 16-unit Bluffs Lodge at the main course, to complement existing accommodations in The Lodge and The Cottages. “Nobody’s done this before,” Fry says of South (other than Macdonald-Raynor, that is). “I think we’ve got something here.” From Arcadia, the picturesque lakeside town of Charlevoix is a scenic two-hour drive to the north, with the Alister MacKenzie-designed Crystal Downs roughly halfway in between. For the vast majority of golfers who can’t get on the exclusive Downs, the affordable, accessible and wonderfully playable alternative is Charlevoix’s semi-private Belvedere Golf Club. It was built four years before the Downs, in 1925, by the acclaimed William COLORADO AVIDGOLFER | May 2018

Watson of St. Andrews, whose sterling résumé includes San Francisco’s Olympic Club, Chicago’s Olympia Fields and Minneapolis’s Interlachen. An effort to return Belvedere to its roots gained momentum in 2016 when Watson’s original course drawings were discovered in a former print shop destined for demolition in downtown Charlevoix. Armed with the blueprints, renowned

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restoration architect Bruce Hepner and superintendent Rick Grunch led an effort that eventually removed 5,000 trees, returned strategic bunkering and restored all 18 greens to their original shapes. The work included cutting tree stands between Nos. 2 and 3, opening views of a creek that meanders through the front nine, and removing a pine tree that had popped up in the middle of the par-5 9th (along with the trees that lined the left side of that hole). When completed for the 2017 season, the work revealed a delightfully fun and challenging course, a “Crystal Downs Lite” that invokes the MacKenzie masterpiece without the punishment (including lighter winds). The first hole, sited on a high bluff with views of the lake, is eerily reminiscent of Crystal’s opener. The iconic hillside 16th, a short par 4 with a devilish green, is a classic that was loudly praised by Gene Sarazen, Walter Hagen (who won the first Great Lakes Open here) and Tom Watson, who played here regularly as a youth while summering in Charlevoix and remains an ardent member. Belvedere head pro Dennis “Marty” Joy II is a local who oversees a quaint pro shop lined with historic photos and is writing books on both architect Watson and Belvedere, which has roots as an exclusive Midwestern vacation enclave going back to 1878. Rates for 18 holes are exceedingly reasonable, ranging from $50 to walk in the slow season up to $99 for 18 holes with a cart in high season, with a variety of specials, including multiday rounds.

Andy Bigford is a Michigan native who has returned annually for three decades to play Crystal Downs, Arcadia Bluffs, Belvedere and many other northern Michigan courses. For more information, visit ArcadiaBluffs.com, BelvedereGolfClub.com

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May 2018 Colorado AvidGolfer  

Hailey Schalk Fuels Up | Health, Fitness & Wellness | Golf Gifts for Mom | Colorado Golf's Golden Age | New Mexico

May 2018 Colorado AvidGolfer  

Hailey Schalk Fuels Up | Health, Fitness & Wellness | Golf Gifts for Mom | Colorado Golf's Golden Age | New Mexico

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