Saint John’s Resort in Plymouth Township Debuts Golf Course in Spring 2024

Saint John’s Resort in Plymouth Township has announced that its new 18-hole championship golf course will open for play in spring 2024. The resort previously offered 27 golf holes.
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St. John golf course
The bell tower of the former St. John Provincial Seminary is visible from The Cardinal at Saint John’s Resort. // Photo by Tim Keenan

Saint John’s Resort in Plymouth Township has announced that its new 18-hole championship golf course will open for play in spring 2024. The resort previously offered 27 golf holes.

The project is the region’s first high-end public golf development in more than 20 years and is part of a $50-million-dollar resort transformation that began in 2021 under the property’s new ownership group, the nonprofit Pulte Family Charitable Foundation.

“It’s hard to believe that a golf rich state like Michigan and the metro Detroit area has not had a new high-end public golf facility in so long,” said Paul Wegert, CEO of Boutique Hotel Professionals and managing director of Saint John’s Resort.

“We believe the area is prime for a new high-end golf product, and we are very happy that we have elevated the golf experience to match our resort transformation. Our golfers and guests, who visit from all over the country, will be excited when they see it.”

Designed by Michigan-based golf course architect Raymond Hearn, a metro Detroit native, the new golf course is named “The Cardinal,” and has undergone a complete transformation. In addition to the all-new 18-hole championship golf course, there’s a seven-hole par 3 course, and a two-acre putting course designed for golfers of all ages and skill levels.

Hearn has partnered with one of the industry leaders in golf course construction, LaBar Golf Renovations, to completely alter the southeast Michigan golf property. LaBar Golf has worked on private golf clubs like Merion Golf Club, Muirfield Village Golf Club, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Winged Foot Country Club, and Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Township.

The Cardinal at Saint John’s Resort sits on 200 acres of rolling land. The course presents an experience with no two holes that look, or play, alike, being routed in all directions factoring in elevation, wind, terrain, and natural scenery.

The course also takes full advantage of the flow of the land and the 100-year-old trees that were saved during the project and now frame many of the holes, providing a design aesthetic from the golden age of golf course architecture. Several holes also feature classic Golden Age green contours and bunkering.

“It has been a thrill to be able to work on this project for Saint John’s Resort and the Pulte Family Charitable Foundation,” Hearn says. “The land, with its natural glacier forms and beautiful 100-year-old trees, was a great foundation to work with. We were able to save many of the old mature trees and create a routing that kept them in play around green sites and along fairways, which is a bit unique in today’s golf course architecture that focuses more on tree removal.

The Cardinal logo carved into a tree at the new golf course at Saint John’s resort. // Photo by Tim Keenan

“This also allowed me to draw on my inspiration from previous Donald Ross, Tom Bendelow, and Willie Park Jr. projects as well as one of my favorite courses, The Old Course at Sunningdale by Willie Park Jr.  Our goal was to create a fun golf experience and I believe we have achieved that and then some with this project.”

Hearn says he recognized the importance of making the course entertaining and playable for all levels of players. He created golf holes with multiple teeing areas and approach angles. This was accomplished through a five-tee system on each hole, creating a variety of options and yardages.

Complementing the new championship golf course is the seven-hole short course, two-acre putting course, and a short game area. This multi-purpose golf entertainment venue wraps around the resort’s driving range and Carl’s Golfland. The short course offers inspiration from some of the game’s most famous green complexes, while the putting course drew its design from putting course experiences at St. Andrews and Pinehurst.

“The layout of our property, with the proximity of Carl’s Golfland and the range, was a perfect location to create a pure golf entertainment venue,” Wegert explains. “We have also added a new food and beverage venue near the putting course, which will be a great gathering place for golfers, corporate groups, wedding parties, families, and kids.”

In 2021, the William J. Pulte estate purchased the former Inn at St. John’s from the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit and donated it to the Pulte Family Charitable Foundation, which has since rebranded the property into Saint John’s Resort.

In addition to the golf course development, the resort and hotel transformation includes updated rooms, a 6,200-square-foot pavilion, 17,000-square-foot grand ballroom, new wedding pavilion, the Wine Grotto, and other interior upgrades throughout the resort.

For more information on the new golf course project, visit here.

For more information on Saint John’s Resort, visit saintjohnsresort.com.

To read a DBusiness story on golf course designer Raymond Hearn and The Cardinal project, visit here.

A water hazard at the Cardinal at Saint John’s resort// Photo by Tim Keenan