PETOSKEY, Michigan – Over the past 60 years, BOYNE Golf in Northern Michigan has grown to become one of North America’s largest golf destinations – now spanning 10 courses and three resort properties, including Bay Harbor Golf Club, The Highlands and Boyne Mountain Resort. Today, the resort’s vision continues to elevate across BOYNE Golf properties with transformations and upgrades that will impact future generations of golfers.
“We’re being more responsible and sustainable in creating the best-possible turf and playing conditions on all our courses,” says Josh Richter, Senior Vice President of Golf Operations of Boyne Resort. “Golfers will definitely notice the improvements in the turf quality and playability. In a nutshell, we’ve invested heavily into smart irrigation system infrastructure on The Heather and Donald Ross Memorial courses at The Highlands, at Bay Harbor Golf Club, and the two courses at Boyne Mountain, that has made us more efficient with water and electricity usage. These behind-the-scenes upgrades are foundational and at the forefront of additional course improvements.”
The Highlands, located just north of Petoskey near Harbor Springs, is going through significant transformations both on and off the course. A major part of the resort’s golf transformation is the Donald Ross Memorial course which opened in 1989. A composite recreation of classic Donald Ross golf holes, the BOYNE Golf team together with course architect Raymond Hearn, have been restoring the individual holes through the use of technology like Google Earth, in order to better replicate the original Ross designs, especially the green complexes, bunkers and new tee boxes. This includes holes 1 (Seminole No. 6), 2 (#4 Plainfield), 13 (Seminole No. 15), 15 (Aronimink No. 11), and 16 (No. 10 at Pinehurst No. 2). Plans are to continue restoring selective holes to improve the accuracy of the hole. BOYNE Golf was the first resort destination to ever create a tribute course in honor of a legendary architect like Ross.
“We embarked on a vision of getting the Ross holes to be dimensionally correct,” says Richter. “We even tapped Google Earth, to help get things right. It is going really well. Hole 15 turned out stunning. It’s spectacular and will rival the Arthur Hills #13 for the best signature hole at The Highlands. The accuracy of these holes is spot on and done to within inches – not necessarily the topography of the land, but in terms of green sizes, and the size and shape of the bunkers. We replicated those things that are the most noticeable and meaningful to your experience and they are nearly identical.”
At The Highlands, renovations were also made to the popular Arthur Hills course that takes golfers through various landscapes including the rolling hills of Northern Michigan, reaching a pinnacle on the 13th tee with a view of 4000 acres without a visible building. All 18 holes feature new greenside bunker sand, fresh cart paths and improved turf conditions. Further improvements are also happening on the Moor with strategic tree removal, fairway widening, and large mowed short grass areas around the greens to bring more playability to the course.
Improved instruction is also coming to the BOYNE Golf Academy, with the addition of Sportsbox AI software at the BOYNE Golf Academy. This latest golf swing technology uses 3D Motion Analysis and Kinematic AI technology to capture, measure and analyze your golf swing, and can be used indoors or outdoors. “Our academy uses the amazing Gears Golf system to analyze swings, but we can only do it indoors and the golfer needs to put on a reflector suit to be properly calibrated,” says Joe Charles, the Director of Instruction for the award-winning BOYNE Golf Academy. “This new system lets us see the way your body moves, indoors or outdoors. It is app based, and it lets us be more efficient in giving you data points that we weren’t previously able to do. It’s a reinvestment to our academy and another tool that we now have to continue growing the game. Instruction is a big piece of that.”
Finally at The Highlands, there’s a new Ray Hearn-designed nine-hole short course coming that’s conveniently located right behind the main lodge. The fun new course will be routed at the base of the ski slope, providing some fun and exciting shots. Routed across a sloping site and set among fescue grass, holes will range from 50 to 178 yards, and feature some of Hearn’s favorite greens from Scotland, Ireland, and England. “We’re very excited about it,” says Richter. “It’s one of three short courses we’re developing across our resorts over the next two years. A lot of world class golf resorts have one now. It’s a perfect complement for our championship courses and gives guests a chance to warm up on arrival day or in the evening. Expect it to be visually stunning and interesting to play. It won’t have formal tees, but varying fairway levels will allow you to play from different lies and angles.” Also coming in 2024 near the short course is a one-acre Himalayan style putting green.
Bernie Friedrich, who recently stepped down from the position as the Senior V.P of Golf Operation, is spearheading the courses renovations and upgrades across all the courses. He is also overseeing the development of the new short course at The Highlands as Director of Golf Course Renovations and Development for Boyne Resorts.
Boyne Mountain features an enjoyable 36 holes of championship golf – The Monument and Alpine courses – that begins with a scenic half-mile drive up to the top of the mountain where both courses play downward toward Deer Lake offering some of the prettiest views in Northern Michigan.
Hearn has worked with the BOYNE Golf team to create a more enjoyable golf experience by removing hundreds of trees on the front nine of The Monument – that in turn has widened many of the tee shot landing areas and improved the turf conditions. Returning golfers will definitely experience a difference. Long stretches of cart path have also been replaced on The Alpine. Selective tree removal has also taken place on holes 1,2,3 and 6, lengthening and widening fairways, and extending the fairway cut around the greens to enhance playability.
Bay Harbor Golf Club and Crooked Tree
BOYNE Golf’s flagship property spanning a five-mile stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline, features 45 holes including three Bay Harbor Golf Club nine-hole course combinations designed by Arthur Hills (Links/Quarry, Quarry/Preserve, and Preserve/Links), and the scenic Crooked Tree Golf Club – all anchored by one of America’s most beautiful and iconic hotels.
Continuing the vision of improved playability and more enjoyable rounds, officials at Bay Harbor Golf Club removed trees and brush along the bluffs to open site lines and improve playability across the three nines and Crooked Tree. The major focus was put on Links holes 3 and 4, as well as Quarry holes 3 and 4 for improved playability, views and turf conditions. “We didn’t just remove trees, we went out there strategically and restored the views and playability, and removed trees that were impacting turf quality by blocking proper ventilation and necessary sunlight,” says Richter. “So we cleaned up some of these areas to improve the golf experience. We also replaced almost 4,000 feet of cart paths to improve the drivability.”
Finer Touches, Investments in Future Guest Experiences
At all 10 of its courses, BOYNE Golf updated the carts with E-Z-GO’s Pace technology to provide golfers a better preview each hole on the GPS screen, improve pace of play, and be able to see live tournament scoring. The system also allows the staff to track and restrict cart access that improve course conditions. And its staff utility vehicles were all updated with more sustainable lithium-ion batteries, which happen to be lighter weight and easier on the turf – making a huge positive impact on the environment.
As the Senior VP of Golf Operations for Boyne Resorts, Josh Richter oversees the golf teams at all ten Michigan courses, as well as Boyne courses at Sunday River and Sugarloaf Golf Clubs in Maine and the e Big Sky Golf Course in Montana. “Having the opportunity to spend time with Bernie over my entire career has been amazing,” says Richter. “I feel so fresh, excited and re-stimulated as a PGA professional to lead this team. I’ve been learning the agronomy side every day, which has been most invigorating. It’s really meaningful to help guys like Casey Powers, who replaced me as director of golf, to help him learn and grow into the role as an individual. He doesn’t have to do things like I did, just like I’m doing in Bernie’s role. There are pieces that you should make your own and look for opportunities to improve. I’m looking forward to build on the tremendous success that Bernie had here in all the years he did it. Once all of our upgrades are finished, this is going to be an even more amazing golf destination.”
On the web: BoyneGolf.com