Leelanau Net – Lodging and Travel – Sleeping Bear Dunes

Manitou Passage Golf Club Becomes A Destination Course

Arnold Palmer’s “Signature Course”  King’s Challenge is reborn in Leelanau County as Manitou Passage Golf Club

Over the past two decades some of the most distinguished new golf courses in America have opened in northern Michigan. Perhaps that’s because the nationally acclaimed golf course architects who designed those courses were inspired by the beauty of region’s hills, forests and waters. Nowhere is that beauty more pronounced than to the northwest of Traverse City in Leelanau County.

This sparsely populated decidedly rural county is made up of 348 square miles of land and 2,184 square miles of water. It is the home of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which is considered by many to be the State’s number one attraction. Its unmatched beauty with a climate tempered by the water made it a perfect setting for an Arnold Palmer Signature Course – the course that King’s Challenge was meant to be.

When a group lead by Bob Kuras, president of The Homestead, purchased King’s Challenge last year they knew it had not been what it was meant to be. They also knew it could be a signature course and, with dedication, could become a destination course featuring exceptional playing conditions and unmatched service. When the group adopted a goal of becoming a destination course they decided that the course needed a new name that would tie it to Leelanau County and portray the unique high-end experience it would offer.

“While working on the new tee boxes for No. 8 we discovered a view of Lake Michigan’s Manitou Passage. Immediately, we realized that name was the tie to Leelanau County. We also realized that the grandeur of the passage would portray what we are doing here: creating a world-class golf experience on a course designed by one of the greatest golfers to play the game”, said Kuras.

To create that experience the new ownership group reestablished a relationship with Palmer and brought in other experts. One was Wadsworth Golf Construction, the most respected golf course contractor in the country with over 800 projects to its credit. The other was Peridian International, a leader in land planning and landscape architecture for resort destinations throughout the world. Together, Palmer, Wadsworth and Peridian envisioned scores of changes, some minor, some major, that would be made to bring the course and facility up to the championship level experience that an Arnold Palmer “Signature Design” is noted for.

Wadsworth worked from early spring until early winter to make the majority of the recommended changes. Renovations included the repositioning, adding and squaring off of tee-boxes, widening of fairways in key landing areas, renovating bunkers, lengthening some holes, restoring areas with native grasses and clearing of trees and brush to open vistas to the area’s natural beauty.

Complimenting the golf course work was a complete renovation of the entry drive, parking area, cart storage, starter’s plaza and clubhouse. The new clubhouse features a tastefully detailed stone and cedar shake exterior. Inside, the newly created library and trophy alcoves, club room, grill and golf shop feature stone fireplaces, luxurious furnishings, oriental rugs, warm rich woods and original art. New patio doors lead to a multi-level patio that affords stunning views of the 18th hole and offers guests’ outdoor food and beverage services.

The completely-redesigned Clubhouse features an outdoor dining terrace with sweeping views of no. 18 and full table service from the Grill Room.

“We adopted a very high goal and are delighted with the contributions that Palmer, Wadsworth and Peridian made toward our achieving our goal of becoming a destination course. We are looking forward to completing the work and providing the playing conditions and service discerning golfers desire and deserve,” said Kuras.

For more information visit: www.manitoupassagegolfclub.com (under construction), www.thehomesteadresort.com, www.sleepingbeardunes.com and www.nps.gov/slbe.

Location: Cedar, MI 20 minutes northwest of Traverse City
Address: 4600 Club Drive
Yardage: 6,734 from back tees
Architect: Arnold Palmer Design Company
Year Opened: 1998, Reopened 2010
Phone: 231.228.6000; 888.656.7572
For More: Jamie Jewell, Senior Manager, The Homestead, 231.334.5524>

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