For dozens of ski-resort operations, golf courses provide a way to draw summer visitors. Like the ski industry, the golf business has been thinking of ways to emerge stronger from the country’s economic downturn. Home to Schuss Mountain and Summit Mountain ski areas in the winter, Shanty Creek Resorts near Traverse City, Mich., has made a summertime name for itself through innovations to make golf easier and more fun.
At the forefront of a national initiative by the PGA of America called “Golf 2.0,” Shanty Creek has added an 8-inch hole, along with the standard 4.25-inch one, on each green at the Summit course, one of its four 18-hole layouts. The resort has also created forward teeing areas, so children or beginners of any age can play every Summit hole as a par 3.
“We are definitely trying to set a trend,” said Brian Kautz, PGA professional and director of golf at Shanty Creek. “For me personally coming from the golf side and not the ski side, when you are here in the wintertime, there are kids everywhere, but in the summertime, it hadn’t been that way. I think we’re making an impact though. Once the kids are out of school, a lot of people are looking at it and taking the kids.”
“The bottom line for a lot of kids with golf is making it fun and allowing them success like in any sport or endeavor,” said Bob Baldassari, national director of youth golf development for the PGA of America. “Using the skiing analogy, it’s like taking them out and putting them on a double-black diamond and saying, ‘skiing is fun, go get it.’ Instead, you want to get them on an appropriate level for their experience and ability.”
Kautz admitted that a few golf traditionalists initially balked at the idea of bigger holes. However, Shanty Creek’s Summit course setup still allows for regular play, because the greens are large enough to accommodate both holes. The resort uses two different flagstick lengths, so golfers in the fairway can aim for the hole size they are using that day. In fact, golfers of varying abilities in the same group can easily play to different holes.
Summer 18-hole rounds (through Sept. 15) on the Summit course cost from $44 to $24 depending on the time of day. Summit course fall rounds (Sept. 16- Oct. 20) range from $38 to $18. Once the golf clubs are put away for the winter, ski season at Shanty Creek typically runs from late-November to mid-March. The resort has a total of 55 ski runs on its two mountains.