The Big Ten’s Big Golf Stage – Michigan State University Will Host Three NCAA Championships between 2019 & 2021

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In East Lansing, Michigan it is difficult to go 15 feet without seeing the legendary mix of green and white. It’s on banners lining their streets, on signs in nearly every campus housing window, and, most importantly, within their raucous sports stadiums.

Ironically, green and white can also be found on the brilliant fairways and freshly painted cups of over 30 courses in the Greater Lansing area. Considering only 450,000 people comprise the region, it’s amazing how golf has grown in one of the Big Ten’s hallmark cities.

MGM has been fortunate to experience the best that the land of Sparty has to offer and came away thoroughly impressed with the overall quality and affordability of their courses.

The NCAA has definitely fallen in love with the region as well, as last year it was announced that three prominent Men’s and Women’s NCAA Championships will be contested in the Greater Lansing area between 2019 and 2021.

“For the community to be awarded three NCAA Golf Championship events is fantastic,” began Mike Price, Executive Director of the Greater Lansing Sports Authority. “I think it’s a testament to the community as a whole and a nod to our diverse and prestigious courses. We will have some of the best golfers in the country competing for a championship, and all the courses they are using are available to the public to experience as well,” added Price.

The host course for two of the three NCAA Championships doubles as MSU’s home course, The West Course at Forest Akers. Respected designer Arthur Hills happens to be an MSU alum and lent his acumen to a renovation program that was completed in 1991. The result is one the finest parkland courses in the Big Ten Conference, let alone the nation. The 7,013-yard track is one of only a handful of courses in the state, which also serves as an arboretum thanks to former MSU student and the facility’s namesake, Forest Akers. Nearly every single major state and regional tournament has been contested on the West Course, a true credit to its layout and infrastructure.

Brian Harris, Golf Course Manager at Forest Akers, loves the fact that golfers are treated to two distinctive experiences while on site. “Forest Akers is fortunate to have two different properties,” said Harris. “The East Course allows players more room off the tee to hit their drives, but the greens are more undulated so golfers still have to be precise with their iron and wedge play to give themselves the best chance to make putts. Our West Course is the Championship course with rolling terrain, faster greens, and is overall a greater challenge. Golfers will need to put the ball in play off the tee to have the best opportunities to play into the greens. Once on the greens, they tend to be speedy with very subtle undulations that cannot be seen,” explained Harris.

MSU really got it right as alumni and guests alike can create a weekend around football and golf in the fall thanks to the amenities found at Forest Akers. The pro shop is in the same building as Candlewood Suites Hotel, which provides everything you’d expect to find at an upscale resort including casual and fine dining at the University Club of MSU, a fitness center and full spa, outdoor tennis courts and a pool with room views that overlook the golf course. Stay and Play Packages are also available at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center located on the beautiful MSU campus, which is walking distance from downtown East Lansing.

The 2020 NCAA Men’s Division I Regionals will be held at Eagle Eye Golf Club, a Chris Lutzke design that is quickly garnering a reputation as the tournament course in the area. The links style layout hosted the 2016 Michigan Amateur won by Michigan State’s Sam Weatherhead.

As competitors and weekend warriors know alike, Eagle Eye’s greatest defense is when the wind blows. The 7,323 yard behemoth does feature eight sets of tees, thanks to a series of combo tees that allows players of all handicap levels to flourish.

Both nines are visually impressive, but Eagle Eye rises to a remarkable crescendo on holes 15 through 18. In fact, the 17th pays homage to Pete Dye’s famous island par-3 at TPC Sawgrass and is noted as one of the most photographed holes in Michigan.

“Pete Dye collaborated with our course designer, Chris Lutzke who continues to work closely with Mr. Dye,” began Terry Kildea, Director of Sales and Marketing at Eagle Eye. “Pete’s influence allowed us to have a unique replica of his famous island green. In my opinion, holes 15 thru 18 at Eagle Eye are the four best finishing holes in Michigan. Tournament play has proven that #17 has and can affect the outcome of almost every major event that we have hosted.  Listening to comments made by our customers, it seems that surviving that hole makes the round​ for all who play this course,” described Kildea.

Terry is in an enviable position, as he presides over one of the Midwest’s finest 36-hole facilities. For Hawk Hollow GC is across the street from Eagle Eye and when enjoyed together presents one of the best values in golf.

“Playing both courses in the same day (easily done with plenty of time for a lunch break) may very well be the best one-two punch provided by any daily fee course in the Midwest,” explained Kildea. “Additionally, the price for both rounds with GPS equipped carts and practice range balls included is often less than the single round price of other comparable courses,” concluded Kildea.

Hawk Hollow is a parkland gem, with numerous holes weaving through forested areas and stunning lowlands. It’s the perfect complement to Eagle Eye and is the type of course that gets more enjoyable the more times you play it. The finishing stretch at Eagle Eye may garner all the attention, but the par-4, par-3, par-4 trio will test every shot in your bag!

Also on the grounds is Little Hawk, one of only three 18-hole, all natural grass putting courses in Michigan. In total, the Mid-Michigan’s Premier golf umbrella consists of five area courses and a series of incredible stay and play packages thanks to their partnership with local lodging partners. MGM suggests heading to www.hawkhollow.com and clicking on their Stay & Play tab at the top.

Timber Ridge Golf Club, located only four miles east of Eagle Eye and Hawk Hollow, is the definition of an “Up-North” course. Tumbling fairways flanked by tall timbers take golfers to a place that you’d never guess was Lansing.

MGM absolutely loved our day amongst the pines, especially when we got to the back nine. An impressive view and a stunning shot value were around every turn and mogul at Timber Ridge. Joey Stimac, the course’s General Manager describes the back nine aptly as a thrill ride.

“The back nine has a difficult collection of par 3s, reachable par 5s that can be played in numerous ways, and a drivable par 4,” stated Stimac. “The greens are deceptively undulated beyond what the eye can grasp. Then you have 18, which from the back tees, is a monster. If you make par on 18 you walk off the green like a spring chicken,” finished Stimac.
Well I guess I better start practicing my chicken strut as a closing par was made (not from the tips however) to cap our thrill ride. Thanks to their excellent restaurant/bar and new wedding pavilion, Timber Ridge is a full-service golf facility.

“Our Wedding Pavilion has been a great addition,” began Stimac. “Timber Ridge can throw down one heck of a wedding. Once I get a bride and groom to tour our facility our booking rate is incredibly high. When they walk under the pavilion, whether they thought about an outside reception or not, the words I typically hear is, ‘this is it!’ We also have the indoor reception area which is open with high vaulted ceilings. This serves as a stress free back-up plan in case of inclement weather,” concluded Stimac.

You don’t have to don green and white to enjoy the Greater Lansing area, but we promise you’ll be entertained by fun, challenging courses that will save you a lot of green in the end. For information on all things golf visit www.lansing.org and click on their “Things to Do” tab and then “Golf.”

More Great Golf Options in Greater Lansing

 Brookshire Inn and Golf Club – www.brookshiregolfclub.com

Chisholm Hills Golf & Banquet Center – www.chisholmhills.com

College Fields Golf Club – www.collegefields.net

Eldorado Golf Course – www.eldorado27.com

The Emerald Golf Club – www.emeraldgolfcourse.com

Grand Ledge Country Club – www.grandledgecountryclub.com

Groesbeck Golf Course – www.lansingmi.gov/golf

Ironwood Links Golf Course – www.ironwoodlinks.com

Royal Scot Golf, Bowl and Banquet Center – www.royalscot.net

The Falcon at Hawk Hollow – www.hawkhollow.com

Woodside Golf Course – www.hawkhollow.com (one of America’s only 12 hole courses)

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About Author

Glen Turk is a Wisconsin native who has been the Senior Writer/Editor of Midwest Golfing Magazine since 2006. Besides being an avid golfer, Glen enjoys traveling, music, and cheering on the finest professional sports team of all-time, the Green Bay Packers. Glen’s ultimate golf goal is to play in all fifty states and currently he is more than half way there. His other dream, albeit far-fetched, it to record an ace in all seven states of our distribution area. Thanks to an ace in Illinois in 2015, and one in Michigan in 2016, he has three down, four to go!

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