The Inn at St. Ives: Stanwood steps forward

By Kiel Christianson, Senior Writer

STANWOOD, Mich. - There was a time when St. Ives Golf Club served as a "tweener" course for golfers traveling to and from Northern Michigan's golf resort destinations. The remote location and lack of local accommodations often kept St. Ives - one of only a few courses in the nation to earn Golf Digest's five-star rating - from being a golf destination in its own right.

Those days are no more.

Last season, the owners of St. Ives debuted the Jim Engh-designed Tullymore Golf Club. And this season, they opened The Inn at St. Ives, making Stanwood a bona fide golf resort.

With 44 rooms, including standard hotel rooms, romantic whirlpool suites, and spacious two-room suites, The Inn at St. Ives ranks as one of the plushest golf hotels south of Bay Harbor. Richly appointed with dark wood trim and sumptuously upholstered furniture, The Inn offers comfort for golfers and non-golfers alike.

Guests at The Inn have access to the exercise room and steam room located in the lower level of the St. Ives Clubhouse, as well as the large indoor pool, located next door to The Inn. And the grill in the St. Ives Clubhouse serves up the best food for miles around.

The rooms themselves are huge, especially the two-room suites, which can sleep up to eight people (two queens, a Murphy bed, and a pull-out couch). And if you like lots of sinks and towels, you'll be in heaven: Between the three sinks and dozen fluffy bath towels we found in our two-room suite, even an obsessive-compulsive would be able to wash and dry to his heart's content. The only conceivable missing luxury is shower massage heads in the showers. (Not a problem if you're in a whirlpool suite.)

So has the addition of The Inn brought golfers here to stay and play?

Director of Golf, Kevin O'Brien, is enthusiastic. "Weekends have been great," reports O'Brien. "So far, weekdays aren't bad, but corporate travel has been down, and that's what you rely on for weekday business."

Gary Lewandowski, head pro at St. Ives, concurs that The Inn is starting to draw more people to Stanwood.

"We've had so many people mention to us that adding The Inn has made it so much easier to come and play," says Lewandowski. "It's made a world of difference. Now golfers from Chicago, Detroit, and Ft. Wayne can come here and stay, and get a chance to play both of our very different courses without having to drive back and forth from Mt. Pleasant or Big Rapids."

Lewandowski adds that Inn guests who do want to go to Mt. Pleasant to gamble at The Soaring Eagle Casino can avail themselves of the free shuttle to and from the casino.

So let's add all of this up: Two of Michigan's finest golf courses, brand-new luxury accommodations, full amenities, some of the best customer service in all of golf, and the largest casino between Atlantic City and Las Vegas just a shuttle-ride away.

No doubt about it: Stanwood has arrived as a full-fledged golf destination.

The Inn at St. Ives
St. Ives Golf Club, Stanwood, MI
Tel: 1-800-972-4837

Amenities: indoor pool, exercise room, steam room, complementary continental breakfast, massage therapist on call, restaurant and bar in the St. Ives Clubhouse.

Kiel ChristiansonKiel Christianson, Senior Writer

Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Ill. Read his golf blog here and follow him on Twitter @GolfWriterKiel.

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