Grant Rowe has been absent from the Michigan golfing scene for a few years, but he's back and back in a big way. With approximately 800-acres to develop across the road from Shanty Creek, he developed The Chief at Sky Lodge, the first of at least two new courses, which is looking forward to its first full season this year.
Rowe was one of the original developers that brought Arnold Palmer and the Legend to Shanty Creek which helped usher in the golf boom that Michigan has enjoyed for the last 15 years, making it the leading state in the nation during that time for the number of new courses built.
The Chief, as new pro Dave Hill--no not that Dave Hill--describes the course, is a shot-maker's course. "Put away the driver and use your 3- and 5-wood off the tee. You'll be a lot happier. There are a few blind shots, and a well-placed drive is needed to set up your second shot into the green.
"Length is not as critical a factor as shot placement on a lot of the holes. Accuracy is the key to scoring well on the Chief," said Hill, who worked as an assistant to Bernie Freidrich, Boyne's Director of Golf, for a number of years.
Along that line GM Tom Rowe, Grant's son, said that a detailed yardage book will be available and all the sprinkler heads have been marked so "golfers won't have to be guessing yardages."
John Robinson, a Canadian golf course architect and an associate of Pete Dye, designed the new course. "It's his first course in Michigan, but he's built something like 150 all over North America," said Tom. "We were really pleased with the results, and retained him to design our second course which is already under construction."
Despite its newness, the course was impressive last fall. Cut through Antrim County's hill-and-dale country, the Chief flows so naturally over the hilly, wooded land and around the man-made ponds that it looks like it has been there for years. With the look of a Pete Dye course, it reminded this golf scribe of Dye's The Fort on the east side of Indianapolis.
Four sets of tees offer distances ranging from a demanding 6,600 yards at the tips down to a very playable 4,738 yards for the women. The forward men's gold tees are set at a playable 5,500 yards. It's a par-72 course for the men and a 70 for the women. A small, full-service clubhouse overlooks the 18th green and a large, upscale practice facility with driving range and putting and chipping greens.
Larry Mancour, PGA Professional and a mainstay on the Senior Tour, will be conducting a golf school at The Chief this summer, according to Hill. "We're excited to have him join us. He will bring a lot of experience and depth to our organization with his program."
"We were pleased with the play and comments from last fall's trial run," said Tom Rowe, "and looking forward to the Chief's first full season. As I watched it being built I wondered if anybody was going to be able to play the course, because it's visually intimidating. But, once I got to play it from the forward tees and heard other player's comments, I felt a lot better. It's a fun, playable course from the right set of tees."
Rowe said the other new course, which is being called Hawk's Eye Golf Club, will be a more open, more playable course. Also designed by Robinson, the front nine is slated to open next year and the second nine in 2003.
For more information on the new facility or to reserve tee times, call (866) CHIEF-18 or log on to www.golfthechief.com.
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