We went to the ends of the earth to play 9-holes at Northport Creek Golf Course. Or at least to the end of Leelanau Peninsula to visit this course on Michigan’s “Little Finger”. This Jerry Matthews (not to be confused with Jerry Mathers – “The Beaver”) design sits on old farm land between Grand Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan. Let’s see if we can keep all our wayward shots out of those two bodies of water!
It’s cold; it’s windy; we’re old; we’re tired; and we want to go low today so we are playing from the gold/senior tees. The sun was out until we stepped onto the first tee box. The fairway is wide but trouble does lurk to the left and center on this hole. Too far left is a road and cemetery in which your tee shot will be dead. Two bunkers parallel the landing area and the green. My mind must have been in a fog on Hole #2 because as I review my notes about this hole – there were none. Remember on the last hole I said there was trouble down the center? I hit my second shot down the middle toward the green and never found my ball. Yes, we did look in the cup. I spent the entire second hole lamenting about how we could not find that ball and remember nothing about this par 4 280 yard hole.
Hole #3 is a sweet dogleg to the right with a chance of driving through the fairway into a bunker if the inappropriate club is chosen off the tee. Bunkers left and right along with a pond defend the green from any wayward approach shots. Hole #4 is a par 3 with two large bunkers to the front left of the green. It’s only 125 yards but the undulating putting surface and false front can make it an adventurous hole. I must be really tired as the fifth hole is another beclouded memory. To approach the green at this short par 4, you need to take an abrupt left hand turn at the end of the fairway. Again I have no notes (thinking about hole #1 again?) but the pictures are worth a thousand words.
Hole #6 is the number one handicap hole and it is the only par 5 on the course. It is the longest hole and has tree trouble down both sides as it swerves to the left. Playing from the back tee at Hole #7 you will have some water to clear, but from the forward tees no such hazards are present. The driving area is straight until you reach the green which is perched at a 45 degree angle to the right of the fairway.
From the gold tees the green is hidden from view at the par 3 eighth hole. There are reeds and water to carry to find the safety of the putting surface. Hole #9 can be a blast from the forward tees. It’s a par 4 that measures 260 yards with a big dogleg to the left. However it can possibly play like a long par 3 if you are brave enough to hit over the trees at the bend in the fairway. What a fantastic risk/reward shot from the gold tees! It is a contrasting story from the back tees as it is considerably longer with water to clear with your tee shot.
Rating – Ace (50 out 60): Northport Creek GC may be at the end of the earth, but we felt it was well worth the trip. The course was in excellent shape and the weather did get better as the day progressed. You’re not going to find many amenities, but the small pro shop was well stocked and the staff was excellent. Another cool thing about the course is that it is the first golf course in the nation designed to be 100% powered by solar energy. Two banks of solar panels provide all the electricity necessary to run the course operations!
Since our excursion took us to the tip of Leelanau Peninsula we ventured out to see Grand Traverse Lighthouse that guards the entrance to Grand Traverse Bay. To complete our Grand Traverse day, our final stop was Grand Traverse Brewing Company in Traverse City. We were now on the final leg of The Great Lakes Circle Golf Tour as we worked our way down the east side of Lake Michigan.
355 West 8th Street, Northport, MI 49670; 231-386-1088; www.northportcreek.com