Alright. I’ve finally completed my reviews of the courses I played at Treetops in northern Michigan. Links to each of the reviews is at the end of this article under the “related” heading. Now it is time to talk about where to stay when traveling to the quaint town of Gaylord, Michigan, home of Treetops golf courses and the Treetops Resort.
Treetops Resort Lodge – click to zoom
My focus for this review is the Treetops Lodge (pictured above), where I stayed for part of my time in Michigan a few weeks ago. (more…)
Treetops Signature – click to zoom
As I go through each of the hundreds of photos I shot on my recent trip to northern Michigan I relive the fun and enjoyment of each shot on each golf hole. Today I’m reviewing the “Signature” course at Treetops Resort in Gaylord, Michigan. Treetops is a fantastic golf/ski resort in northern Michigan which is home to five courses. For links to the other courses I’ve reviewed at Treetops, see the “related links” section at the end of this review.
Treetops Signature Overview
The Signature course at Treetops was designed by Rick Smith and opened in 1993. You may remember Rick as the first Big Break co-host and more recently as one of Phil Mickelson’s coaches. Rick is one of the top golf instructors on the planet.
The course is a par-70 track which measures out at 6,653 from the back (Black) tees. The Black tees are one of five sets. The course is not long by modern standards, but that does not in any way mean this course is not challenging or enjoyable to play. In fact, it just might be my favorite course at Treetops. Slope from the tips is 136 with a course rating of 72.6. (more…)
In today’s economy customer service is very important to any business. Most golf courses are really struggling and rounds played is down. Naturally it is very important for courses to do everything they can to make their patrons enjoy their experience in hopes that they continue to be patrons. Course conditioning is naturally important as are the amenities. Customer service is just as important, if not more.
Grouchy Course Marshals
Once a player or group of players is out on the course, there are only one or two people who work for the course that interact with them. A beverage cart or snack bar attendant is one, but the most interaction is likely from marshals out on the the course. I seriously doubt that most courses have any idea what their marshals are doing. My home course for instance, struggles with marshals. In this particular case, the marshals are out ball hunting. They’re not paying attention to the players or pace of play. They’re just looking for ProV1’s in the bushes.
In a recent round I had a very distasteful experience with a very grouchy marshal. Here’s the setup. My dad who is 75+ joined me and two golf buddies for a round at a very nice resort course. We had a 10:27 tee time but one person had troubles making it so we pushed back our time with the pro shop to around 10:45. The pro shop had no problems and there were no groups behind us for a while so they didn’t mind. So when we teed off there was a gap of about 27 minutes in front of us, assuming they did tee times every 8 minutes.
By the time we reached the 2nd green a cart came up from behind us with two riders. On the 3rd tee I politely asked the twosome to play through us. As it turned out, there was only one set of clubs. A daughter was riding along as her father was enjoying a round as a single player. They were equally polite, played through and we never saw the single again. Naturally a single is going to play far faster than a foursome.
A few holes later, somewhere around the 6th green a twosome of women approached us. They did not appear to be in any hurry as when we attempted to wave them through on the next tee, they sat in their carts talking. On the 8th tee the course marshal stopped us before teeing off and this was the discussion.
Marshal: “Are you guys having fun?”
Marshal: “Well the group behind you isn’t having any fun. And none of the groups behind them either. I messaged you to speed up and you’re holding up the whole course behind you. You’re 20 minutes behind.”
Me: “We started 20 minutes late. We’re playing at a decent pace for a foursome. We are happy to let the twosome play through behind us. And what does ‘messaged you’ mean?”
Marshal: “I sent you a message on the cart’s GPS screen.”
Me: “We don’t have it turned on. I’m using a laser for my yardages.”
Marshal: “You need to get it moving and catch up with the group in front of you.”
Golf partner: “You mean the single?”
This whole discussion soured our entire group for the rest of the day. The marshal’s attitude was really not pleasant. Looking behind us, there was another twosome and a threesome behind us. I can’t believe that the management would stack twosomes and threesomes behind a foursome and expect the foursome to be on the same pace. We finished the front nine by 12:55, two hours and 10 minutes. This is not bad for having two players who have never played the course and one senior player.
Had the marshal more politely said, “Would you guys mind picking up the pace a bit?” we wouldn’t have had a problem. And we’d already offered to let the twosome play through. That same twosome followed us the rest of the round with no complaints. Later the drink cart lady told us that the marshal was a grouchy guy. If I’m the owner or manager of the course, I don’t want him representing me and souring my customers.
I’m in the planning stages of the next trip to the home of golf, St. Andrews, Scotland. One big decision to make is which bag to bring. There’s a lot of walking and bag carrying over there, not like here in the USA where some courses actually require you to use a cart (or “buggy” in Scotland). I’m trying to walk a little more and I may have found the perfect bag for that and the upcoming trip, the Wellzher Sunday Golf Bag.
Wellzher Sunday Golf Bag – Less Than 2 Pounds! – click to zoom
Wellzher formed in 1993, producing golf gloves, bags shoes and outdoor shoes for major brands. The name Wellzher comes from the two words “wellness” and “leisure.” Wellzher makes products with these two words in mind. In 2001 Wellzher Corp was established as a golf bag company in the USA, making stand bags, golf travel bags and cart bags. (more…)
Any regular visitor to this golf web site knows I’m a big Tom Doak fan. If you don’t know, Tom Doak is a leading golf course architect who has designed many great tracks. I’ve had the pleasure of playing several and really enjoy them. When I had the opportunity to play a Doak design in northern Michigan I jumped at the chance. A wise jump, no doubt.
Black Forest Golf Course – Gaylord, Michigan – Tom Doak Design
Black Forest Golf Course Overview
Black Forest is located in Gaylord, Michigan. The Gaylord area in northern Michigan is a golf mecca. The terrain, deep and dense forest and climate make for fantastic quality golf.
The course opened back in 1992 and was the first for Doak. Hell of a start I’d say. This par-73 (yes you read that right) course occupies roughly 400 acres. For reference, Augusta National (home of the Masters) occupies about 360. Total yardage from the Black tees (the tips) is 7,044. Black Forest is not long by modern standards, but this course is not all about length. Rating from the tips is 74.3 with a slope of 147. Don’t let the tough rating scare you from playing the track though. There are five sets of tees for players of all ability levels.
Since its opening Black Forest has earned many awards like “Top New Public Courses in America” by Golf Digest and “Best Public Course in Northern Michigan” by Detroit News. (more…)