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  • Writer's pictureRobert Adams

Golf on M-22

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

LAST YEAR I HAD THE PLEASURE OF CORRESPONDING with the past president of the Society of Golf Course Architects, Mr. Greg Martin. This was shortly after I began promoting the concept of a golf trail in our neck of the woods and began waving a banner about our twenty some courses along the 116-mile M-22 highway corridor in NW Michigan.

Greg had written a thoughtful article in Golf Course Industry on authenticity and why golf courses were so important in our landscapes. It really hit home with me, and I complimented him on his effort.

Our collection of courses are beginning to spark national attention and we certainly do not mind coat-tailing our golf courses with our Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore where ABC’s Good Morning America awarded it, The Most Beautiful Place in America in 2011. The park is 35 miles of fresh water coastal dunes and is situated near the mid-point of the M-22 scenic highway.

This trail designation certainly has common threads with the venerable RTJ Golf Trail in Alabama. And our own M-22 hiking trails are found in our legacy dunes where we are blessed with many trails that allow easy access to Lake Michigan’s beautiful shoreline. It all made sense to expand recognition of the area. Little did we know that a pandemic would support the further desirability of our area calling for a new phenomenon, social distancing and fortunately we have the space to make this workable.

A passage in Greg’s article is worth repeating:

We need to strive for less perfection and more authenticity. The best golf courses are those that are less about perfection and more about place, the atmosphere, the character, and ambiance. You can’t notice it, but you feel it. The personality of a golf course is clear and based upon this unique site-specific link. You can’t ignore it. It is genuine, it is connected, sustainable and it is authentic.

His comments hit a chord with me as he described the spiritual relationship he saw in design, working with landscapes, and being genuine and incorporating the game of golf into the land.

It has been a lifetime of enjoyment for this golfer, who holds dearly his mother’s belief that the game becomes understandable only after you acquire the golf bug.

Boy, does it.

Over many years I have come to realize how the diversity of courses along M-22 adds to the charm of our area. There are courses for all budgets, and for all skill levels, right at our doorstep. Some require sponsorship by members, some are cooler-friendly, and all require shirts to be worn - thank goodness. The courses are gently crafted into the forest and sand dunes and for that we are truly blessed.

Take in the aroma of white pine, the warmth of summer sunshine, and the abundance of fresh water. It is in our backyard genuine as it can be. Golf is the perfect remedy for our health, and to borrow Greg's words, “it is both authentic, and mesmerizing [mine].”

Counting our lucky stars along Michigan’s M-22.

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