HARBOR SPRINGS, Mich. - The national spotlight of Golf Channel's Big Break X series paid off for the host Boyne Highlands Resort in northern Michigan.
In 2009, Boyne is reporting new highs in out-of-state play and golf packages, which include, among others, an "Unlimited Golf on the Big Break X Courses."
But Boyne Highlands encompasses less than half of Boyne's northern Michigan golf holes and one third of its resort properties.
To ensure you're doing the Boyne that's right for you, here's a selection of golf itineraries to suit any golfer or golf group:
Boyne top shelf: The Inn at Bay Harbor & Bay Harbor Golf Club
No golf course in Michigan delivers the "wows" quite like Bay Harbor Golf Club, Boyne's upscale, 27-hole, semi-private club on bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan. The Links-Quarry is the most popular "tourist" combination, featuring plenty of lake frontage, most notably on the eighth and ninth of the Quarry that play along the rocky shores.
Just down the road, the Inn at Bay Harbor is a cut above the other two Boyne resorts and is northern Michigan's highest nationally ranked resort, offering luxurious accommodations, including spacious, cottage-style suites with balconies and fireplaces overlooking Little Traverse Bay.
Boyne for golf traditionalists: Donald Ross Memorial
Fans of Donald Ross will want to play the Donald Ross Memorial, which features 18 replica Ross holes, ranging from his home course in Scotland, Royal Dornoch Golf Club, to Seminole Golf Course in Florida and a slew of holes from his many Michigan golf course designs. The course finishes dramatically with the famous 16th over water from major championship host Oakland Hills Country Club.
Boyne for families and non-golfers: Boyne Mountain Resort
Twenty five miles south of Boyne Highlands, the Boyne Mountain Resort is home to two golf courses that lack the big name architect like RTJ and Arthur Hills, the Alpine course and Monument course, plus a full menu of activities for everyone in the family.
The Nike Junior Golf Camp also utilizes the two courses and practice facility throughout the summer here, and the off-course amenities are especially impressive, from an indoor waterpark, to wakeboarding lessons and camp, to a disc golf course that winds down the mountain.
Championship-caliber golf at Boyne Highlands, Bay Harbor
Robert Trent Jones Sr.'s Heather course remains a timeless test of golf and will host the 100th Michigan Amateur Championship in 2011. The course features relatively small greens and tight fairways with some severe doglegs, putting a premium on precision, but it plays more than 7,000 yards from the back tees.
The more modern-designed Hills course, on the other hand, can play up to 7,300 yards and features larger greens and more elevation changes to navigate.
Bay Harbor, as you'd expect from a course of this caliber, serves as a very different but difficult test for low-handicappers despite max yardage under 6,800 yards. This includes a distinct design routing by Hills through the small parcel of land all within a few hundred yards of the shore.
"The way the nines are routed, they resemble a figure eight," notes Bernie Friedrich, director of golf at the Boyne Resorts. "This causes ever-changing wind directions through the course."
Boyne golf for beginners: Crooked Tree and the Alpine at Boyne Mountain
For those after playability and affordability, check out Boyne's smallest golf facility, Crooked Tree Golf Club, a stand-alone 18-holer near Bay Harbor.
While its location high above the lake can cause some windy days (and back nine scenery lake scenery), it has a traditional course design, straightforward and generous off the tee. If you want lake views but not the penal nature of Bay Harbor's design, come here.
Down the road, Boyne Mountain Resort's Alpine course is the more player-friendly of the two at the resort, starting from the top of the mountain and playing downhill the whole way, finishing up around Deer Lake.
Boyne for walkers: Boyne Highlands Heather Course with caddies
The Heather is a traditional, walker-friendly Robert Trent Jones Sr. design that continually ranks among Michigan's top-rated courses by golfers. A relatively new initiative, the club now offers a caddie program ($15 surcharge), and on weekend mornings, caddies are even required here.
Boyne golf on the cheap
Daily rack rates are lowest at Boyne Mountain's Monument and Alpine, Crooked Tree and the Moor and Ross Memorial at Boyne Highlands. But deals can be found on every course at Boyne. For starters, Crooked Tree offers at twilight a rate before any of the other seven courses, starting daily at 11 a.m.
One of the best kept secrets at Boyne is Bay Harbor's $99 twilight green fee after 2 p.m., which allows for plenty of time to get in 18 holes (in the summertime, you can tee off until nearly 5 p.m. and still beat the sun).
The fall is also a popular time to play Michigan golf. The weather gets spottier as you head into October, but the changing of the fall colors is a spectacular sight, and the golf gets even cheaper, including unlimited golf packages.