What’s better than a guys’ golf weekend?
A girls’ golf weekend, in Gaylord, at Otsego Resort.
Sometimes, I put away my bike and padded shorts in favor of a collared shirt and matching skort, armed with a bag full of irons, wedges, and woods. You’ll need your long woods in Otsego’s wilderness and water paradise. The Tribute course is built on over 1100 acres of undulating terrain, some that weave through the ski runs and chairlifts. Add in the Classic course for 36-holes of golfortunities during your trip. The resort is modeled after a quaint Alpine retreat, the Swiss chalet and log-cabin architecture suits the Snowbelt location, plus the town adopted this theme in the 1930s. My foursome nestled in for a few days at a Tyrol Lodge room, just a short walk to the onsite Logmark Bar and Duck Blind Grille. The resort is stocked with friendly staffers, and it exudes a laid-back vibe vs. fancy and pretentious. They let the views do the talking instead of white tablecloths.
From Private to Public (Otsego Resort)
In 2018, the once private Otsego Ski Club became Otsego Resort under the direction of new owners, Kathie and Gary Vollmar. With 80 years of history oozing from the hilly terrain, the Vollmars have set out to reintroduce the sprawling resort, event center, ski hills, and golf courses to Michiganders and visitors alike. From the resort’s main lodge, there’s an unmistakable and stunning 30-mile view across the Sturgeon River Valley. Throughout our weekend filled with hiking, laughing, and golfing, we found time to gawk at this slice of northern Michigan wilderness from lawn chairs perched near our lodge. The resort is adjacent to Pigeon River Country, 114,000 acres of wilderness, sinkhole lakes, and a 1000+ free-ranging elk herd. Northern Michigan is really good at outdoor vibes, and Otsego Resort is the latest hidden gem to surface in the great lake state.
Pigeon River Country
We readied for golf swings, first with some forest bathing, a hike to the Pigeon River, and more panoramic ridgeline views. The other Laura arrived in time to join Jen and me with local guide and marketing director Christopher and his Pomeranian, Enkidu. We sprayed a water and apple cider vinegar mixture on our legs to keep the ticks away. Next, we set off through the hardwood and pine forest, sometimes following animal or elk trails to our river destination. After logging some miles, we worked up an appetite and landed at Snowbelt Brewing in downtown Gaylord for recovery drinks and dinner. The Summer Fling (Kolsch), Greek nachos and wood-fired pizzas got a big thumbs up from my crew.
The Classic & the Tribute
Hanna arrived Monday morning (bringing youth and a left-handed perspective) to be our fourth for Monday and Tuesday’s golf rounds. After a bucket of balls on the range, we drove off in our carts to tackle the Classic course. The approachable front nine gave way to a more challenging back nine, where the resort’s natural elevation was revealed. We all enjoyed the signature hole, #9, where we hit from one ski slope to another with views of the lodge and, on a glance back, the expansive river valley and dense forest.
The golf highlight was our Tuesday Tribute round. A rollercoaster golf cart ride to the first hole sets the tone. Honestly, each hole brought a round of oohs and ahhs in admiration of the views from tee boxes perched on hilly peaks. Jen will not forget hole #2, where she nearly drove the green at 314 yards, using the natural downhill fairway as her ally. Accuracy is ideal on the Tribute or if that’s not in your bag, bring some extra balls. The wilderness-style course is cut in the forested hills, laced with beautiful tall grasses and wildflowers….it’s a golf experience, not just a round of golf. Bonus, it was a bluebird day with a dramatic sky dotted with layered cumulus clouds, the perfect contrast to the crisp blue sky and deep green fairways. It’s award-winning in my book, plus it was recently named a top ten best new course by Sports Illustrated, and a Michigan top-ten course, by Michigan Golf Magazine. Otsego Resort is home to two of the 20+ courses in the lauded Gaylord Golf Mecca. It’s a stay-and-play golfer’s paradise, a good idea for your next girls’ golf weekend.
No matter the activity at Otsego Resort, there was always a panoramic view…. during dinner at our window seat at the Duck Blind Grille, from the elevated tee boxes on the Tribute, or from the deck of the Logmark Bar. From my perspective, I’ll be back to experience the courses again and look forward to the killer views, albeit this winter, from the top of chair 3. See you up north.
Feature photo courtesy of Christopher Gibson @ Otsego Resort