While the PGA Tour currently passes us by in the Great Lake State, excellent tournament golf is still taking place. June has been a busy month with three major state championships in successive weeks — topped off by this week’s Michigan Women’s Open at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville.
The Women’s Open is run by the Michigan PGA section, which also hosted the Michigan Open for men the second week of June at The Orchards in Macomb County In between, the prestigious Michigan Amateur was fought at Muskegon Country Club, a less-well-known but phenomenal Donald Ross layout near Lake Michigan.
Of the three state majors, the Michigan Women’s Open is a favorite in part as — unlike the two men’s championships — it reaches beyond our state borders and has top women amateurs, former LPGA players and current mini-tour pros from 20 different states (including California, Nevada, Georgia, Hawaii, and Alaska) as well as in U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia. Lots of great action and live scoring can be tracked at www.michigan.pga.com.
Hanging out at Crystal Mountain is also a great way to experience northern Michigan’s natural resources. Sleeping Bear Dunes is about an hour away, or you can fish or boat in multiple lakes and rivers. At the resort there is of course golf — on either Betsie Valley or Mountain Ridge, which is hosting the tournament. Betsie Valley is very family friendly and at various times offers incentives for younger players to get more interested in the sport. Mountain Ridge is a fair but tough test, with picturesque elevated views of western northern Michigan.
“The women in this tournament play a lot of tournaments at country clubs or stand-alone courses,” said Crystal Mountain director of golf Brad Dean, now in his 19th year at the helm. “They really love all the amenities of our resort because that makes it a little different, and a main draw is that many of them bring their families along. That is our market, our niche. We are so focused on families in everything we do, it makes this tournament one of the most fun and unique they play in.”
Crystal Mountain receives ongoing industry awards for being a top family ski resort and spa in the Midwest. A new multi-million dollar chairlift is being installed to help keep up with the demand of ongoing real estate expansion on the property which began before the Great Recession and has carried right on through.
When skiing is not an option in summer, kids and adults love the Alpine Slide, a fiberglass-molded, cart-riding track with high-banked curves that twists and turns its way down the mountain side. There is biking, hiking (including an outdoor art park), swimming, rock climbing, bonfires, outdoor movies, volleyball, paintball, Frisbee golf — and multiple other endless activities where no two days in Michigan’s cherry country have to be alike.
Feels like Pure Michigan to me.