First opened in 1927, Portland Country Club's 18-hole course sprawls across 100 acres of rolling countryside terrain stitched by mature trees. The winding 5,558-yard layout challenges duffers with imposing tree lines and sand traps kissed against fairways and greens. Portland Country Club regularly hosts the Michigan Players Junior Golf Tour as well as its annual Best Ball Tournament, which has been played for 54 consecutive years. The club still retains the grounds' original farmhouse, now expanded and renovated into a clubhouse to serve as a testament to its humble beginnings and a quick reference for any Herbert Hoover–related trivia.
Course at a Glance:
Snap Fitness's around-the-clock gyms enable visitors to fortify their physical well-being with a cornucopia of advanced fitness equipment and certified personal trainers. With 24-hour access, members don't have to let The Man or one of his many secretaries tell them when to help themselves to Snap's strength-training gear or top-of-the-line cardio machines, which feature televisions and other media diversions. A friendly, unintimidating atmosphere provides a refreshing change of pace from aloof gym employees and ear-splitting pump-up jams. Members also enjoy nationwide access to all Snap Fitness locations, ideal for working out while traveling.
Tall pines and hardwoods stand watch around Candlestone Golf & Resort, their reflections dappling the surface of marshy ponds and water traps that resemble pools where woodland sprites might splash. The par-72, Jerry Matthews-designed course has a timeless quality, though in fact it was completely renovated in 2008, setting new electric golf carts buzzing past sand traps redesigned to meet USGA standards. The resort’s two dozen guest rooms were recently remodeled, too, with flat-screen TVs, new mattresses, and a fresh supply of hardworking counting-sheep filling each serene, wood-accented space. Overlooking the golf course, the Water Tower Grille serves wine, beer, dessert cocktails, and crowd-pleasing dinner fare such as chipotle-honey barbecue ribs, pecan-crusted walleye, and hand-tossed pizza on a spacious deck or beside a roaring fireplace. In 2009, The Grand Rapids Press praised the Grille’s “friendly service and good food,” such as the “tender and moist” pork chops.
Scant trees, rolling mounds, and small, deep bunkers. These are the marks of a serious, links-style layout, and Glenkerry Golf Course is as serious as they come. The course pays homage to the early days of golf with each of these traditional, Scottish-style characteristics, giving players 71 strokes to finish at par or better on the 18-hole loop. To accomplish such a feat requires control off the tee, limited mistakes on the greens, and the patience of a dreaming baby sloth. Those who manage to string together a round can be proud of their precision and prowess. And those who come up short can always haul their clubs to the on-site, all-grass driving range and practice putting green for solo practice, lessons, or group clinics.
Rick the Reptile Guy, the resident reptile connoisseur of Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park, guides visitors through interactive reptile shows followed by tractor rides through the rest of the park’s sweeping expanse. During each private 45-minute reptile show, guests can pet and cavort with slithering wonders such as giant pythons, boa constrictors, and bodybuilding earthworms. Giant turtles and life forms of the crocodilian variety also preen for audiences. Outside the boundaries of the cold-blooded extravaganza, visitors can relax on a tractor ride through 80 acres of exotic creatures such as zebras, monkeys, and parrots that have retired from their careers as extremely blunt telemarketers. Groupon customers can bring additional guests to their private reptile show for an additional fee of $8 per person (the cost of park admission).
Since opening in 1930, Kent County Conservation League has sheltered shooting fields and courses dispersed among more than 170 acres of wooded and open land. Sharpshooters of all experience levels can mill about a sporting clay course's 13 shooting stations as they shatter targets flung from abundant angles or nestle into a five-stand course's covered range before eliminating 25 clays. The League's rifle range distributes targets at intervals between 50 and 300 yards and their pistol range remains lit for nighttime sessions. As they draw back a tightly strung bow on the archery course, patrons can finally live out their childhood Robin Hood fantasies without donning green tights in an effort to frighten neighborhood kings.
Certified instructor Tim Wiley gives pupils the benefit of more than 15 years' skeet shooting experience during group or private lessons on five fields huddled behind Kent County Conservation League's clubhouse. Visitors can find additional instruction at defensive shooting sessions or a shooting program for youngsters that covers trap, sporting clays, and skeet. Delectable bites await famished gunslingers at Shooter's Grill, and a pro shop equips patrons with gun-toting apparel and silver bullets for clays that transform into werewolves. Kent County Conservation League hosts private and public events annually, and their grounds have welcomed major shooting outings such as the 2010 Michigan Sporting Clays Championship.