Text: R. Collins
At the end of last season, no one could have guessed that Michigan golf courses would be experiencing record turnout numbers this year, or why. As the state rephases its opening and courses continue to serve visitors, golfers have come out in waves to partake in long summer days on the course. West Michigan’s courses are no exception, with many currently experiencing one of their best summers as those working from home due to COVID-19 seek safe ways to get out of home offices and socialize.
“June rolled around, and we had the best June we’ve ever had. It really picked up so I can’t complain—we’re doing very well,” said Jeff O’Malley, PGA, director of golf at Pilgrim’s Run Golf Club in Pierson, Michigan.
About 30 miles from Grand Rapids, Pilgrim’s Run is situated on 400 acres of manicured bentgrass and complex greens that offer golfers a special privacy and distinctly natural setting. Coupled with 10-minute tee times that allow players some breathing room between parties, O’Malley said the natural landscape and course offerings are reason enough for seasoned players and beginners alike to get out and give it a try.
“I think it’s the greatest course in the world of course but what the people tell us is they enjoy the course for its playability, but it can be challenging also,” O’Malley said. “Everybody likes that there’s no side-by-side holes, it’s just you and nature and no real estate. It’s kind of like a nice walk in the park, so to speak. There’s no construction and no housing; no highways or anything. We’re kind of out in the middle of nowhere.”
To the east in Belmont, Michigan, Boulder Creek Golf Club and Restaurant offers golfers diverse layouts and tee box options for every caliber of play, alongside a practice facility with a grass hitting area and a 9,000-square-foot putting green, and a fully stocked golf shop, restaurant, and banquet facility.
“The golf course has two different looks on each nine,” said Steve Gilbert, PGA, golf professional at Boulder Creek. “There are five different sets of tees for the golfers to choose from, so it can fit a wide array of golfers with different caliber levels of play.”
Currently, twilight golf is an increasingly popular way to beat the heat and unwind at both courses, with Boulder Creek’s twilight golf rates beginning at 3:00 p.m., and Pilgrim’s Run’s starting after 6:00 p.m., seven days each week.
“What’s really picking up for us is our couples and juniors twilight [options]; they’re very, very popular this year—going off the walls, it’s unbelievable. After 6:00 p.m., seven days a week, we’re running junior and couples’ twilight and it’s $30 for two players, for nine holes, with carts,” O’Malley said.
Alongside twilight golf rates, Boulder Creek also hosts senior rates that run all day on weekends, as well as package rates for regular rounds of golf. For those looking for a good near-city option, The Mines Golf Course in Grand Rapids also offers senior rates on Mondays, as well as free children’s rates with a paying adult. The Mines is located just above a portion of old gypsum mines, five minutes from downtown, and features rolling terrains, sandy soils, and plenty of mature hardwood coverage.
Regardless of course, experience, or schedule, there’s plenty of golf for players to have, especially now. As late summer rolls in and the weather begins to crisp in early fall, courses will have something extra to offer, too, in vivid, changing scenery and calm, cool mornings that roll into serene afternoons and early twilights.