Players putt and drive their way through a nine-hole course that stretches 3,030 yards across Irish Greens Golf Club's peaceful grounds. Along the way, they encounter several ponds, a creek, and small greens that make landing shots near the pin difficult and fully choreographed gymnastics routines after an Eagle nearly impossible. Visits don't have to end once the last shot is sunk, though: the club also boasts a cozy dining room and a full menu for sit-down dinners. The bar area provides the ideal spot to watch a game, and daily lunch and dinner specials keep bellies and wallets happy.
Owned and operated by the Village of Howard, this 9-hole, par 36 municipal course welcomes orb smashers with twisting water hazards, challenging bunkers, and pristine tree-lined fairways obscured by teasing turns from the tee box. Seasoned swingers will be able to navigate doubles drive carts ($15 value) with sidekicks or parole officers around the hilly landscapes of the course's varying holes, including the its signature 161-yard Hole 5, which forces golfers to tee off over a large lagoon and avoid the trash-talking trees that yell the names of obscure French films while you're trying to putt. Those famished from the fairway can return to the clubhouse for a frosty brew and a weekly fish fry, featuring salmon, grouper, walleye, and more.
The extensive facilities at Bisbee Golf Center, which include a driving range with 40 grass tees and a 5,000-square-foot putting green, set the stage for practice and improvement under the expert eyes of professional teachers. Since opening the center in 1988, owner Jeff Bisbee, a Class A PGA professional, and his father, Doug, a PGA Class A member since 1962, have helped students lower scores and increase their enjoyment of the game through private and group lessons. Their instruction involves thorough analysis of the swing to identify areas for improvement, calling upon computer-aided techniques to break down the swing into its most basic components of backswing, downswing, and bowing to vanquished opponents.
Black Bear Golf Club accommodates golfers of all levels with a lush, 19-hole spread. Golf outings equip green-wanderers with a golf cart to whisk them across the tree-lined course. Black Bear’s extra hole means a free par 3 warm-up shot that’s perfect for attempting Arnold Palmer’s famous victory prance. A choice of cold beer or a soft drink ensures carbonated comfort across the remaining 18 holes, which are set on a diverse terrain of rolling foliage and Scottish links–style holes. Linksters can choose an item from the Black Bear Grill's menu, and a large bucket of range balls warm up frosty games.
When he first saw the rolling hills and forests at Mistwood, course architect Jerry Matthews was enchanted by its suitability for a golf course. Matthews carved 27 championship holes into this variegated topography, divided among three nine-hole courses that combine for challenging 18-hole rounds or play singly for golfers who need to save time for savoring the taste of victory. Whether playing the red course, blue course, or white course, golfers send their balls soaring over bent-grass fairways and spinning over fast, well-bunkered greens, aiming carefully to avoid the smattering of lakes that await stray orbs.
Adjacent to the final fairway of the white course, an executive course named the Little Nine completes the fairway buffet at Mistwood Golf Course. Here, players hone their short-game skills and strive to take just three strokes at each hole, ideal for three-toed sloths with poor counting skills.
After swinging their way past open fields and dense thickets, players make their way to the clubhouse, where Bogey’s Snack Bar awaits downstairs, and upstairs, Sunset Bar & Grill serves whitefish and ribs as diners lounge on its deck and gaze out over the blue course and the verdant practice range.
Course Combinations at a Glance:
The 18 holes of Marsh Ridge Golf Course are notched into a densely wooded expanse of north country acreage alongside Otsego Lake. Play begins with a flat, straightaway, tree-lined fairway at the first hole. However, nearly every hole hereafter features some change in elevation, some degree of dogleg, or both, making club selection and distance assessment as important as not sneezing during one's own backswing. The elevation swings are particularly stark on the par 3s, whose yardages require some mental tinkering before settling on the correct combination of iron number and swing strength. Play comes to a close with the last of the back nine's three par 5s?a relatively short hole that gives players a final shot at birdie and their only chance to do a somersault for onlookers gathered on the clubhouse deck.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 71 course * Total length of 6,231 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 71.2 from the back tees * Course slope of 132 from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole