Sweetgrass Golf Course named National Golf Course of the Year
When people think of great golf courses across the country, they immediately think of the California coast, the desert of Arizona and Las Vegas, or the plethora of layouts in Florida.
But Michigan’s Upper Peninsula? Not really.
So far, that is.
Selection is based on quality of the golf course, quality of owners and management, contributions to the local community and significant contributions to the game of golf.
“When we received the Michigan Golf Course of the Year award in October, we were very excited,” said Tony Mancilla, General Manager of Island Resort & Casino. “Michigan has a lot of great courses, so just winning our state was huge. Now winning the national award and recognition is the icing on the cake.
Sweetgrass is a par 72 layout with five sets of tees, ranging from 7,273 yards from the tips to just 5,075 yards from the front tees, making it playable for all skill levels.
Greens fees vary by season, with summer rates at $85 and much lower spring and fall rates. Like all courses in the area, Sweetgrass is closed in the winter.
The resort is located in Harris, approximately 21 km west of Ecanaba. Opened by the Indian community of Hannahville in 1981 as a bingo hall, it has grown over the years and now includes two golf courses.
Sweetgrass is the crown jewel, opened in 2008 and annually hosting the Championship Island Resort on the Visit Epson — the LPGA development circuit.
Its signature hole is the 15, a par 3, which features an island green.
But Sweetgrass officials know that this latest honor isn’t just about golf.
“I’ve been talking to owners of other courses recently about how big a deal this is because it’s not just about having a great golf course,” Mancilla said. “You need to do more things for the game and help promote golf, and we’re doing that on different levels.”
The Epson Tour event falls into this category, having been played every year since 2011 and raising around $100,000 each year for charity. The YMCA is the official charity of the event. Area nonprofits received more than $250,000 from tournament ticket sales.
“The event (Epson Tour) raises about $100,000 each year, or about a quarter of the YMCA’s total annual membership scholarship funding,” Mancilla said. “It gives underprivileged children from economically challenged families a chance to spend time at the YMCA.”
Morgane Metraux won the 2021 tournament in June, an effort that helped earn her promotion to the LPGA Tour this season.
Island Resort underwent a $30 million expansion, adding a second hotel tower with 138 rooms. In addition to golf, the resort offers spa suites, a water park, and fine dining on the top floor.
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