Length: Ranges from championship tees of 7275 yards, to forward tees at 5075.
History lesson: Much of the course’s history is found symbolically in the 8th hole, named after Zoie Brozowski, a former metro Detroit resident who moved to the Harris area. She befriended the Hannahville Indian Community and willed land in SE Michigan to the tribe, which eventually sold it to use as seed money for Sweetgrass. Part of the greenside bunker wall is formed like a ‘Z’ in her honor, made of railroad ties.
Most memorable: Hole No. 12 – named Maple Sugar – is a slightly downhill par 3 with water to the left and a large, deep green that provides dozens of pin positions. The green is split in half front-to-back by a significant valley that running through the middle, and the back half is protected to the left by a large bunker with railroad tie wall. For this reviewer it’s also memorable for personal reasons – a career first hole-in-one was achieved with a pin placement in the valley, 148 yards from the tee.
Picture this: The only hole on the course completely framed by trees from tee to green, No. 17, has many photogenic features to explore. Playing the back tees first requires a trip over one of the course’s five reclaimed road/train bridges from across Menominee County. A significant water carry starts the adventure. The landing area (from all tees) is littered with bunkers and a sandstone rock formation to avoid. For the final approach, the green is framed by tress not in play as a nice backdrop to the slightly elevated green. The hole is named Wisdom, and the sandstone represents a turtle, which embodies wisdom in the animal world.
Risky business: Holes 9 (Trailing Arbutus) and 18 (Seven Grandfathers) travel parallel up hill to the finish. Both are par 5s with a risk-reward decision on the second shot to carry water, or layup, to a large continuous green that serves both holes. If a big hitter takes the risk, a shot going too long will not hurt much as there are rolling hills behind but with fescue grass to contend with. For water drainage and aesthetics, the two fairways are split by a multi-level, man-made waterfall complex traveling downhill from green to tee.
Overview: Sweetgrass is playable for all levels of golf, but is one of the highest scoring courses on the professional ladies’ Symetra Tour schedule. Yet the links-style course has wide fairways, very fair landing areas and lots of room for the less-experienced golfer to still enjoy the natural beauty throughout. It was the best-conditioned course I played the summer of 2015, and there is not a bad hole to be found. Mix in some gaming fun at the casino, and the fantastic food selections for a great experience on the links. Sweetgrass also has a long-term, affordable golf/hotel package deal with Greywalls in Marquette and Timber Stone in Iron Mountain called the Perfect Foursome, making a trek to the U.P. very worthwhile – as all three locations have been rated in GolfWeek’s top 12 in Michigan.