Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Liz's Day, All Day: Bay Harbor

If you go back through my blog, you’ll definitely see that I like Bay Harbor. I don’t know who couldn’t. It’s a special day for me, from breakfast until we get back. Breakfast is at Sagamores in the Inn. It’s still the standard buffet, omelet station. They have cherries this year, so I’m even happier. We get there early and head out back. There’s a mink running along the patio (along with his family who show up later). Waves breaking so it may be breezy today. Get seated, get eating. There is this gentleman who shows up and sits outside and eats breakfast by himself. We wonder who he is because everyone seems to know him and come talk to him and hug him when he leaves. Tom thinks he is “Mr. Bay Harbor.” That would be fine if he invited us to stay at his house. We’d be good caretakers (we end up finding out that he is a leading neurologist with his main practice in Birmingham, Michigan, Dr. Cahen (sp) from his vanity plate on his truck, but our waiter at lunch filled us in. He also ate dinner at 17 that evening so is pretty social).
We’re playing Links/Quarry in the morning and then Quarry/Preserves in the afternoon. After warming up on the driving range and hitting a few chips on the nice chipping area, we start off on the Links. This is a great first thing in the morning, with the sun just up and the blue, blue water, with dew on the grass (if I were a poet, I’d write something more poetic). Paul and I start off as teams and redeem ourselves after that beating we had at Alpine a couple of days ago.
Pete is not having a good round. And, unlike the rest of us, Pete does not drink beer. He doesn’t really drink on the golf course (but needs to). Paul isn’t having a good round either (probably due to lack of echo), but is enjoying himself because of the views (and the beer). I, of course, am having a wonderful time and playing well and enjoying my day.
Lunch on the patio and you can’t go wrong before our afternoon round. Again, it’s my day and I play well. Pete, it’s not his day and it’s not going to be his day. He needs a drink. Which, he participates in at the end of the second round on the patio (and purchases said round of drinks after we discussed how many clubs were thrown that day – we also learned the important difference between flipping and tossing and throwing…). Over drinks, we discover:
Paul has never watched:
Stripes or Caddyshack
Tom says he’s going to have a movie watching, popcorn eating marathon for Paul since he hasn’t lived if he hasn’t seen Stripes or Caddyshack. We also end up discovering that Paul hasn’t seen most of the classic movies we would think EVERYONE has seen (or should). I think this could involve a week long sleepover.
That night, dinner at the dock at 17, outside on the patio. Quite nice. We get a couple of drinks and wine into Pete and he relaxes a bit and talks it up. Always sad when Bay Harbor day ends for me.
harbor for dinner (the boat on the right is pretty cool, with lots of wood)

with a drink, or two, in him, finally get a smile out of pete

a much needed drink after the day for pete

guaranteed that matt, tom's son, will be snagging this hoodie from bay harbor

morning at the links in bay harbor

obligatory golf ball hitting into the lake

evil par 5 (in my opinion) at the quarry -- I finally made par this year and finished the hole (think: straight drive, straight second, go over gully/quarry on third shot - HARD dogleg right)

view from the patio of quarry last, at lunch

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Otsego Tribute ... and change of plans (day 6)

We’re always looking for new courses, new gems to play in Michigan. There are SO many courses. This year, we add Otsego Tribute and Classic to the list. Tribute is on the Top 10 (maybe Top 5) in Michigan, after Crystal Downs, Arcardia, Oakland Hills. In Gaylord, it’s a Gary Koch (think: golf commentator) design, again, at a ski resort. After McDonalds (yes, breakfast of champions) we head out for our hour drive to the course. Realize that we’ve driven by over the years on our way to Treetops. Unassuming from the road and guessing (hoping) that the Classic, or the older course, is the one on the side of the road because it doesn’t look like much except a cow pasture. “Cute” little chalet, Swiss village ski resort looking space. I’m a little concerned because the bathrooms in the clubhouse are communal (that’s not right, in my mind). Pro shop ok, but nothing I have to have (I’m holding out for Arcadia on Friday and haven’t bought anything – even at Bay Harbor!). But, it’s supposed to be a gem. Their driving range rates up there with Boyne’s Heather (actually, Heather is more picturesque). I’m driving Pete around today and we eventually head up, about five minutes of meandering up woods and ski areas to the first hole, which is up hill and pretty open. No starter, no one, so off we go. 
The course has some nice “bones” to it. Rather generous fairways with definite landing areas surrounded by bunkers. The greens have nice bunkering as well. But, we quickly find out that the course has not been maintained to keep it at its Top 10 rating (we find out about the drought burning things up, but that doesn’t give the rocky bunkers and other poor course conditions a complete hall pass). We haven’t played more than four holes and I bring up the Boyne raincheck I have and the conversation starts about skipping the Classic course (if the Tribute is like this, what’s that going to be like?) and playing Boyne – Heather, which we didn’t finish, or Alpine, because we like it and then can have Bob In Again on our way back to the Highlands. Tom’s my partner and pretty sucky on our robin and we lose. I’m not playing poorly, but not great, and at this part of the trip, I have to be in fairways, most of the time lay up on par 4s and then hit a green and hope to get par, but be happy with a bogey. I lose more and more distance on my clubs the more we get into the trip. Paul’s playing well and shoots a 41 on the front. Pete, well, Pete is having a bit of a continuation from the day before (but, since I’m driving him around, it can’t be me causing the issues since we’re right there together).
Tribute is good with the cart girl and we start early. But, Tribute is NOT good on the amenities/facilities. The cart girl says #12.  I know, I should have learned how to pee in the woods at this point, but I can’t. Shy bladder. Or call it what you will, I do not have the pee in the woods in me (there was a port a potty between #12 and #13 – boy, I miss Bay Harbor’s nice, clean, pretty smelling, mural painted bathrooms).
End the day with a sandie, so I’m happy with that. And off we go for our refund for Classic ($25 to play that after playing Tribute) using someone’s back as an excuse. Dairy Queen in Gaylord for a quick lunch (Blizzard…) and to Heather we go. This is going to be great because we’re staying a couple of minutes from there and we can have pizza for dinner at the Lodge.

#1 At Otsego's Tribute after a five minute ride from the clubhouse.

Yes, there are nodding donkeys in Michigan, Texas.

"Treetop-sy" views downhill on some holes (you're supposed to see for 20 miles from here)

Par 3 with quite a bit of carry over, as Tom says: "A Christmas Tree farm."

Par 5, up hill (I think all par 5s in Michigan are up hill).

Find out that the Boyne raincheck I’ve been holding on to for a couple of years has $100. With another little discount from the rain cancellation on Sunday (BTW, they are still getting back after that storm in Michigan – LOTS of damage and Consumers Energy has their work cut out for them on the repairs and getting power restored). Ends up costing each of us $25 to play Heather, the same it would have cost to play Classic, but better, much better.

I’m driving Pete around again in the afternoon, who contemplated not playing. We get him a drink and that helps (he doesn’t drink beer and I don’t know too many people who drink wine on the golf course – a Crown and Coke works). They also move up a tee box from the Purple to the Orange tees. I add extra strokes to my handicap since I’m now getting penalized for their lesser yardage.

Last time we played Heather on Sunday, I had a solid 40 going on the front 9 before we had to bring it in. Not so much the case this time. But, on four, we do see a mink. This is the second mink we've seen since Bay Harbor day.

Mink at Heather,#4
Dinner consists of pizza at the Lodge. Only a walk away so no driving!

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Friday: Head out of Boyne, Moomers for ice cream and Arcadia Bluffs


Friday morning is check out day. Breakfast, come back, pack up the car (tight with four golf bags, four travel golf bags, four suitcases, four people, and other miscellaneous stuff). My bags are lighter from fewer golf balls and clothing I’ve decided to leave, but heavier from some souvenirs (more to follow upon return to Dallas).

Boyne Highlands is booked pretty solid based on the parking lot and the crowd at breakfast. I need to get a picture, but we (mean: Pete and Tom) manage to get all of the stuff packed into the car without much room to spare. After my trouncing in trash and robins the day before (lost all 6 robins and least amount of trash for about a $70 loss – and I played pretty decent), I’ve announced that I’m out of the game. More strokes won’t help me gain ground since towards this point in the trip, I’m happy with a bogey, but realize that in order to get a bogey that I have to play the hole smart and not be in any trouble (meaning, no trash potential). Hate quitting, but not going to get that beating two more days, even though it can depend on the course. Having Pete and Paul move up takes a bit of my potential out as well so this is probably a wise play on my part.
And off we go. Bye, Boyne, passing a turkey (Tom) and deer along the way. We stop in Charlevoix on our way, a cool little harbor town. Too early for lunch at the Villager Pub, but not too early for a couple of warm scones and cinnamon rolls at Cre8tive Cupcake Bakery http://www.cre8tivecupcake.com/ (yum on the white chocolate cherry scone) while walking along the dock and downtown.
Next stop: Traverse City, with a stop for fresh fruit along the way at Friske Orchards (www.friske.com) ($4 worth of apricots and cherries that Pete and Tom will also eat, Paul, no, since we’ve discovered he doesn’t really like fruit unless it’s a banana or hidden in a smoothie). You can see that the storms on Sunday were pretty damaging with a lot of downed trees. I look at the map (printed) and see that the Glen Arbor they keep talking about in the news that has been closed for a few days is due west and south of Traverse City, so we’re not far. We stop in Traverse City downtown for a stroll. It’s sidewalk sale time there and we try out a Moomers stand for a pre-treat (chocolate peanut butter that I really liked and I am not a chocolate person). For those who don’t know (I don’t think it’s a Michigan thing, but…) sidewalk sales are held in cities and small towns throughout Michigan. It’s when they put out all of their sales stuff and stuff to lure people in to their stores to get non sales stuff. We loved them as kids. The store that we liked the most was the Boyne store, with all kinds of Bay Harbor, Crooked Tree and other golf clothes. But, nothing dropped out at me so I passed.

Off to Moomers Ice Cream. Tom and I are excited. Paul, maybe. Pete, not so much (he mentioned that we could bypass Moomers after the taste test downtown and we said “no.”). We pull up to Moomers, next to the dairy farm, just like their website said. But, I’m disappointed. While they advertise 120+ flavors, and I was really, really excited about Black Raspberry. They don’t have all of the flavors all of the time, and they didn’t have Black Raspberry (I settled for cupcake and butter pecan). Note: if you’re going, check out their website: www.moomers.com and if there is a flavor you want, call them and tell them when you’re coming and they’ll make it ahead of time for you. I wish I knew, but now I know – and you do too. It still was pretty wonderful.

Then, to Arcadia Bluffs (www.archadiabluffs.com) for our 3:40 pm tee time. We’re going to get there plenty early because we never have. We’ve always been screeching into the parking lot from the airport to our tee time. In fact, we’re running so early that we take the “scenic route” and stop at the scenic overlook on the lake and walk up the stairs to the top overlook (me, Paul and Tom – Pete decided to save his breath or his knees).
We get there, nothing falls out of the back when we open it and check in and shop (I get a new hat and a shirt for Tony – this year, I haven’t been terribly excited about the golf apparel selection. Maybe next year). Grab a Summer Shandy (even Pete has one) and sit on the Adirondack chairs in front of the 18th green with a great view of the course and Lake Michigan. Paul thinks it’s pretty, but we’ve discovered that links-style course don’t sit his eye because he doesn’t have aiming points or boundaries. I like links-style probably for that reason. The bunkers look evil (and are) at Arcadia Bluffs. Unfortunately it’s overcast, with a chance of rain, so we aren’t getting the views I was hoping for, and definitely won’t get the sunset (or bag piper) that I was hoping for.
Paul looking pensive at the scenic overlook.

View from the Adirondack chairs.
 Finally, we’re off. The group behind us, coincidentally, is also Kline. But, he’s not related, as far as I know. Will Kline, from Tennessee. I’m playing from the Forward tees for the first time at this course, so I’m happy. Tom’s playing from Black. Pete and Paul move up to the White. #1 is a par 5. Tom starts off with a birdie. Rest of us bogeys.
Getting ready to tee off on #1.
 #2 is one of the holes I remember most. The cart girl shows up and Pete asks if she happens to know how to take the GPS out of “marshal mode” since Tom and I couldn’t remember after Harbor Shores. She does (FYI: settings, then two taps left, two taps right and you’ll get to choose the type of player – golfer, marshal, etc.) A stout par 3 with a big tree next to the green. Pete kinda skulls a shot but based on where it lands and the slope of the green, ends up a couple of feet from the pin, close to a hole in one. Paul gets the first try out of one of the bunkers. I steer my shot completely away from the bunkers over near the tree. Then, another par 5. Tom hits it into the gunk on the right and can’t see where it goes because Paul walks in front of his line after he hits. I play it safe, listening to Sam (this is what Paul and I named the voiceover gentleman on the cart GPS) and going left center (sound like I have that type of skill and it started off that way it seems). Paul hits another bunker and isn’t sure how to play it because the front is so steep. Decided to go for it and see what happens. He’s successful and gets out.

#2 Par 3

Paul in bunker on par 5, #3

Yes, Paul's out!

Rain/drizzle begins and we’re happy that the carts have the rain covers for our clubs to keep them at least a bit dry. I put on my rain pants (discover they are wind pants, not rain, so I’ll be getting a new pair of rain pants for the next time). Pace of play, as I expected, is slow. But, seems even slower with the weather since we’re waiting on every shot. The marshal says they are trying to get it moving a bit faster, but isn’t terribly apologetic since we’re still officially on pace (4 hours 40 minutes I think is their pace of play). Ugh. Another par 5 with a crazy green. I’m playing well, despite the wait and the weather – pretty surprising. Helps that the forward tees are definitely more forgiving.

 Drizzle is officially rain and doesn’t look like it’s going to stop. We continue on. No longer as much fun because the rain is making the course play longer. I’m still playing well, but it’s a grind. On #11, I officially call it quits since my grips, my gloves, my desire to get out of the cart and get even wetter – well, end. I’ll drive Paul around the rest of the round since walking back to the warm and dry clubhouse looks pretty far away. They plod on, but pace is so slow and the rain isn’t letting up (and the cart girl is out of Coors Light for Paul so he doesn’t even drink anymore). Pretty miserable.

Finally, on #15 tee box, Tom has had it and he’s out. We end our stay at Arcadia Bluffs. Sad to not have played it all, having paid that much. But, just not worth the extra hour and a half we’d have left in the rain to finish a few more holes (that’s how slow the pace was and the groups ahead of us are getting their money worth and playing every shot from tee to green even though they should have their ball in their pocket after nine shots).
Pack up the car. This went relatively smoothly, and then off we head to Big Rapids, where we’re staying for the night. Pete takes the wheel and after Tom gets connection on his phone (this is why I print driving directions most of the time) off we head in the rain. It rains the entire way so it’s a great drive, but we make it to the Quality Inn & Suites to crash for the night.
P.S. Didn't get to see Brodie, the Forest Dunes dog who has moved over to Arcadia. Guess he was staying dry.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Day 4: Black Lake (UAW) and Elk Ridge.

We wake up on Tuesday to rain, but it looks like it’ll clear up on our way. Stop for a fancy breakfast at McDonalds on our way (it’s about an hour to Black Lake). We’re already worried about making both tee times and we haven’t even teed off yet. Black Lake is a pretty special course built and owned and operated by the United Auto Workers Union. Pretty clubhouse, but nothing special. It’s the course, not the amenities. The clubhouse clothing selection isn’t even label recognizable by me. Starter lets us off (they have switched the course so 10 is now 1 and they haven’t, according to the starter, changed everything up yet). Black Lake is treelined, with plenty of bunkers, and then some holes have marsh. Very lush. Very lush. Very lush.
Pete helps Tom stretch at the townhouse.

First group shot of the trip at Black Lake, first tee (or 10th) (Paul, Tom, Liz, Pete)

There is a story here about tee markers.

Par 3 at Black Lake.

Paul meets Bambi.

Paul and I are off to a rough start, but rally back to tie it for the last hole. But, everyone strokes and it’s a par 5. I am not playing well off the tee and have lost a lot of distance. And, as dubbed by Paul, "Tom is the luckiest bad shot golfer I know." And up against these three, I may be laying up on all holes with them gunning for it, taking away any advantage I may have from the forward tees (at Black Lake, not bad, but below at Elk Ridge, not much advantage at all). Old age sucks. Or, I just need to start using more weights instead of the yoga and pilates… Pete hits it on in two and wins the hole and the robin.
There are plenty of critters as well on this course and the deer don’t seem afraid of us at all. I thought Paul would be able to walk right up to a baby.
Again, you can see why Black Lake is in the top 10 (maybe top 5) in Michigan. Again, amenities lacking (no cart girl that we saw). But, at the turn, the bartender held up a sign for us for Frankie (another story, another blog when I get the photo from Tom).
Unfortunately we don’t get to play all of Black Lake or we’ll miss our tee time at Elk Ridge (note to self: finish Black Lake, skip Elk Ridge). And, it’s a par 3 that we quit on.
Yes, Paul, there is an echo on this course.

Tom with a tough second to the green.

More deer. There were two babies.

While out of the way, Black Lake is a gem that you shouldn’t miss.
Elk Ridge, is another gem. Just not a gem for me because:

·        I’m left handed with a slice (or call it what you will)

·        Almost all of the holes are hard dog leg rights

·        I’m left handed with a slice

·        See above.

Yes, Paul, there is an echo.

Par 3 at Elk Ridge.

This course was near impossible for me to play, especially given that I was giving up length off the tee not hitting it well, and having to hit less club to deal with the hard dog legs. Needless to say, I was way behind them on pretty much every shot. And didn’t finish about a third of the holes.  Oh, it’s a pretty course. Tree lined. Nice woods. Nice marshes. Nice bridges. NO amenities (no cart girl and by the time we finished the clubhouse was locked up – good thing I didn’t have to pee). No, I don’t need to play Elk Ridge EVER again. But, it’s a nice course for a right handed player with a slice.

Wednesday is my day: Bay Harbor Day.