Summer's last swings: A guide to Gaylord golf

GAYLORD — Summer may be nearing its end, but the hot sunny days aren't over yet. There is still plenty of time for that last-minute getaway before Gaylord goes into deep freeze.

For those of you debating what to do, we recommend grabbing your golf clubs and getting some practice out on the greens. Over the last 30 years, Gaylord has become a flourishing golf destination. Our secret little Alpine Village isn't so little or secret anymore.

According to gaylordgolfmecca.com: "In 1987, a group of area golf courses joined forces to put a name to the northern Michigan golf phenomenon — the Gaylord Golf Mecca. The Mecca now includes 15 courses, four resort destinations, 16 hotel properties and numerous golf awards. It is truly one of the premier golf destinations in the country."

Each course has something different to offer any level of golf enthusiast from the casual golfer to the pro. Designed to complement Northern Michigan's rustic splendor the courses overlook scenic lakes, rivers, and valleys.

Here are a few local favorites:

1. Michaywé Pines: This 18-hole course is known for its flawless condition. This classic course has been a staple since 1972 but underwent a major update in 2004. With tees ranging from 5,200 to more than 7,000 yards, you can pick your day’s challenge. The course is adjacent to a well-stocked pro shop and is complemented by three casual dining experiences, “Inn the Woods” Restaurant, Schneider’s Pub and Jack Pine Grill. This course is sure to satisfy the most experienced player. Located at 1535 Opal Lake Road (989-939-8911).

2. The Loon Golf Resort: The Loon Golf Course is an all level course with multiple tee areas. The Loon course has large landing areas, and rolling fairways and scenic views. The Ridge Course has classic Northern Michigan features with dramatic elevation changes. The Lake Course is an all levels course with breathtaking views of Lake Michaywe. All three courses offer an enjoyable challenge. Located at 4400 Championship Drive (989-732-4454).

What's also neat about The Loon is that it is part of a collection of three courses that are all within close proximity of one another. That group also includes The Ridge, 4815 Old 27 South (989-705-9070) and The Lakes, 1233 Opal Lake Drive (989-731-1300).

3. Treetops Resort: Award-winning Treetops Resort is home to five awe-inspiring courses. The Premier, Treetops' course by world-renowned Tom Fazio, is tough but fair. Signature, Rick Smith's first 18-hole course, is influenced by course in Ireland and Scotland. Masterpiece, the late great Robert Trent Jones Sr.'s crowning glory, takes advantage of the natural terrain and features a 120' vertical drop. Tradition provides a walkable option. And there's the popular Threetops, a nine-hole par-3 course that conducted the ESPN Par 3 shootout for years. Legends such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples have graced the course. Located at 3962 Wilkinson Road (877-724-1083).

Other local courses to check out:

Black Bear Golf Club

1500 Alexander Road, Vanderbilt (989-983-4441)

Gaylord Golf Club (formerly Gaylord Country Club)

4893 M-32 West (231-546-3376).

Indian River Golf Club

3301 Chippewa Beach Road (231-238-7011)

The Natural at Beaver Creek Resort

4706 West Otsego Lake Drive (989-732-1785)

Wilderness Valley

6500 Nicklaus Drive (989-585-7890)