Try something new near Kalamazoo: A stay-and-play at Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort in Augusta
AUGUSTA, Mich. -- You don't have to drive up north to find one of Michigan's biggest golf resorts.
Midway between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek sits Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort in an appropriately named place for golf.
Five decades ago, the Scott family brought golf-and-resort life to southwest Michigan. Darl Scott built the 6,303-yard West Course in 1963. Today, his sons, Charles and Jim, oversee a five-course empire, making the family one of the largest golf operators in the state. All five courses are rated between four and four-and-a-half stars by Golf Digest and are certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries.
A stay-and-play at Gull Lake View certainly won't disappoint. You'll save money on the gas and also on the greens fees, yet still feel surprised at the quality of the experience.
The courses of Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort
A decade after the West Course, Darl and his sons added the East Course in 1973. The Fairway Villas adjacent to these two courses are perfect for foursomes or families. The 64 two-bedroom, two-bathroom units with full kitchens are within walking distance of the practice greens and both courses.
The 6,656-yard championship layout of Stonehedge South put the resort on the map in 1988, with its forested terrain, elevation changes and large greens. Rock walls line scenic fairways. Most golfers consider this the best of the resort's courses, although Bedford Valley does have its fans, too.
The 6,763-yard Stonehedge North, the newest of the five Gull Lake View courses, offers a distinct mix of six par 3s, six par 4s and six par 5s. This combination allows golfers to score, provided they stay in the fairways.
Bedford Valley, a Kalamazoo course purchased in 1988, was designed in 1965 by William Mitchell and remains one of Michigan's best championship venues. Known locally as "The Big Course" for its huge greens, large bunkers and fairways lined with mighty oaks, Bedford Valley has hosted the Michigan Open, the Michigan Senior Open and the NCAA Division III National Championship, among other events.
The resort's three clubhouses -- the East Course Grill, Bedford Valley and Stonehedge -- offer restaurants. Meeting space is available. Those who don't want to leave can look into the real estate at Cranes Pond, a community centered around a 54-acre private lake.
Other golf options
Southwest Michigan doesn't get the credit it deserves as a golf destination. Yarrow Golf & Conference Center, also in Augusta, boasts possibly Ray Hearn's best contribution to his home state. The course winds through forest and wetlands. The drama for the back nine builds before ending at a green guarded by hazards in the shadow of the clubhouse.
Roughly 30 miles southwest in Vicksburg, the Angels Crossing Golf Club will be worth the drive. Its signature moment comes on the sixth hole, where a 70-yard green is longer than half a football field. That's a six-club difference from back to front. Bruce Matthews III did a fine job turning the property of an old paper mill into a compelling outdoor experience.
Southwest Michigan off course
The area between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek isn't a hotbed of tourism, but there are some unique attractions. In fall, playing golf in the morning and watching football games at Western Michigan University in the afternoon will thrill sports fans. The Binder Park Zoo and the Kalamazoo Air Museum are great for families. The zoo is small enough to be easily walkable but big enough to entertain. The Lady Gull Diva provides dinner tours of Gull Lake. The Barn Theatre in Augusta puts on musicals and plays with Broadway actors all summer long.
September 5, 2012