No. 17 at Sweetgrass Golf Club
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No. 17 at Sweetgrass Golf Club
Bunkers complicate both the drive and the approach at Sweetgrass Golf Club's 17th hole, which plays as a dogleg par 4 over water from the back tee. Kevin Dunleavy/Golf Advisor
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No. 7 at Sweetgrass Golf Club
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No. 7 at Sweetgrass Golf Club
At 230 yards, the seventh hole at Sweetgrass Golf Club is the longest par 3 and an excellent example of the care designer Paul Albanese took in developing his green complexes. Kevin Dunleavy/Golf Advisor
No. 8 at Sweetgrass Golf Club
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No. 8 at Sweetgrass Golf Club
The eigth hole at Sweetgrass, a 429-yard par 4, plays back toward the casino and the water tower. Kevin Dunleavy/Golf Advisor
No. 9 at Sweetgrass Golf Club
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No. 9 at Sweetgrass Golf Club
Playing toward the hotel and water tower, the ninth at Sweetgrass -- a 547-yard par 5 -- serves as the 18th when the course hosts its annual event on the Symetra Tour. Kevin Dunleavy/Golf Advisor
No. 10 at Sweetgrass Golf Club
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No. 10 at Sweetgrass Golf Club
With a good drive, players will need no more than a wedge to the green at Sweetgrass Golf Club's 10th hole, which has a narrow, raised green protected by bunkers. Kevin Dunleavy/Golf Advisor
No. 11 at Sweetgrass Golf Club
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No. 11 at Sweetgrass Golf Club
The best hole at Sweetgrass Golf Club might be the 565-yard 11th, where trees guard either side of the fairway, complicating any approach or layup. Kevin Dunleavy/Golf Advisor
No. 12 at Sweetgrass Golf Club
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No. 12 at Sweetgrass Golf Club
The biarritz green at Sweetgrass Golf Club's 12th can be a bear if the pin is on one of the ridges. Kevin Dunleavy/Golf Advisor
No. 15 at Sweetgrass Golf Club
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No. 15 at Sweetgrass Golf Club
The island green on the 15th hole at Sweetgrass Golf Club is named Turtle and is shaped like one. Kevin Dunleavy/Golf Advisor
No. 13 at Sweetgrass Golf Club
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No. 13 at Sweetgrass Golf Club
An eagle, carved from wood, stands guard at the green at perhaps the toughest hole at Sweetgrass Golf Club, the 489-yard, dogleg 13th. Kevin Dunleavy/Golf Advisor
Island green at Sweetgrass Golf Club
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Island green at Sweetgrass Golf Club
Five historic metal truss highway bridges, saved from demolition by the Michigan Department of Transportation, have become course landmarks, most notably at Sweetgrass Golf Club's island-green 15th hole. Kevin Dunleavy/Golf Advisor
Zoie bunker at Sweetgrass Golf Club
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Zoie bunker at Sweetgrass Golf Club
Framing a greenside bunker at the eight at Sweetgrass Golf Club are pylons in the shape of the letter "Z," a tribute to Zoie Brozowski who donated the land to the Hannahville Indian Community. Kevin Dunleavy/Golf Advisor
No. 18 at Sweetgrass Golf Club
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No. 18 at Sweetgrass Golf Club
Sweetgrass Golf Club's double greens at the 18th and ninth parallel par-5 holes that play opposite ways -- one demanding a draw, the other a fade -- around the same waterfall lake. Kevin Dunleavy/Golf Advisor

Sweetgrass Golf Club at the Island Resort in Harris, Michigan: An Upper Peninsula gem

HARRIS, Mich. -- Sweetgrass, one of four traditional medicines used in Potawatomi ceremonies, is a purifier that is said to clear the mind and attract positive energy. And there is much positive energy at Sweetgrass Golf Club, part of the Island Resort & Casino.

Opened in 2008, Sweetgrass was an immediate hit thanks to its immaculate conditions and varied layout, shaped from farmland in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The links course stretches to 7,275 yards, plays to a 75.2 rating and a 143 slope and annually is the toughest on the Symetra Tour. But for less skilled players, Sweetgrass also has rare playability with its wide fairways and generous greens.

The course is full of cool stuff that makes a round here memorable. The parallel, par-5 finishing holes play to the same double green. There's a par 3 with a biaritz green (no. 12) and another with an island green (no. 15) in the shape of a turtle. At no. 13, there's an eagle carving overlooking the green. Framing a greenside bunker at no. 8 are pylons in the shape of the letter "Z," a tribute to Zoie Brozowski who donated the land to the Hannaville Indian Community, which owns and operates the resort.

And the best news about Sweetgrass is that a second golf course is on the way, which promises to enhance the Island Resort & Casino's ability to attract golfers.

Kevin Dunleavy is a longtime resident of northern Virginia, a graduate of George Mason University, an award-winning reporter covering golf, colleges, and other sports for the Washington Examiner, and a single-digit handicap still seeking his elusive first hole-in-one. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KDunleavy.
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