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Golf M-22

Updated: Jan 22, 2021

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 developing the concept of a golf trail in our neck of the woods and began promoting our twenty 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 his effort in our emails.

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

The trail designation certainly has common threads with the venerable RTJ Golf Trail in Alabama. And our M-22 hiking trails are prevalent in our dunes where we have easy access to them along Lake Michigan’s beautiful shoreline. It all made sense to expand recognition of the area. Little did we know that a pandemic would help support the further desirability of our area where being outdoors is a solution for social distancing.

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 by 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."

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 softly shaped into the forest and 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 as 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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