Treetops Resort has been around for quite a while and actually started as a ski resort in the 1950s. It wasn’t until the golf boom of the late 1980s and ’90s that the property added a handful of championship courses.
Harry Mellon, the founding owner of Treetops, brought in Rick Smith in the late 1970s to turn Treetops into a ski and golf resort. The resort boasts five courses: The Masterpiece, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr.; The Premier, designed by Tom Fazio; The Tradition and The Signature, both designed by Rick Smith; and The Threetops, designed by Rick and made famous by ESPN’s Par 3 Shootout.
Smith, one of the premier golf instructors in the world, boasts a roster of students including PGA Tour winners such as Jack Nicklaus, Lee Janzen, Phil Mickelson and Rocco Mediate. Rick celebrated one of his best years in 1993: His son was born, Lee Janzen won the US Open, Jack Nicklaus won the Senior Open, and his Signature Course opened at Treetops. Rick traveled the world and combined some of the best design elements from Ireland and England as well as top U.S. courses to make this playable but challenging course.
I teed up on a beautiful Monday morning with Mike Donahue, chairman of Global Traveler’s Advisory Board; Kevin McKinley, Treetops’ director of golf and ski; and Russ Glasby, director of sales, Treetops. Mike and I were without our clubs and golf shoes as American Airlines did not transfer them at O’Hare. So we met Russ and Kevin like troopers with rented clubs, Mike in his fancy loafers and I in my topsiders. The show must go on!
Hole 3 | 467 yards, par 4
This dogleg right offers a very generous landing area. Morning dew coated the fairway, and the sun glistened off each blade. Rick saved the bracken ferns growing in this area when the holes were constructed and dispersed them throughout the course. Interesting note: Koreans add bracken fern fiddleheads (the immature, tightly curled, emerging fronds) to bibimbap, one of their national dishes.
The next shot to the green can be precarious, as the green runs from front to back and shots often do not hold. I found the bunkering quite beautiful with its mixture of high grasses and wild flowers crowning the edges — reminiscent of the European courses Rick visited when preparing to design The Signature.
Hole 4 | 186 yards, par 3
The green features a distinct shape, so balls tend to roll into a dip on the left side. If your pin placement is in the bowl, you will be golden — lots of easy birdies here. Our pin placement was on the left side but back. Russ, Kevin and I had an uphill putt to the pin for par. Mike struggled and took a “Euell Gibbons” walk on the left of the green but still came out with an impressive recover bogey!
Hole 5 | 421 yards, par 4
This is the No. 1 handicapped hole on the course, as the entire fairway gradually rises up to the green. Note the beautiful position of those bracken ferns from the front of the tee box to the fairway. Drives should be right center of the fairway, requiring an extra club to reach the green. I walked away with a bogey, which was very good, as both Russ and Kevin took a diversion in the primordial woodlands and Mike’s wheels came off, scoring a quadruple!
Hole 10 | 556 yards, par 5
Jack Nicklaus liked this hole best. Rick found it to be the only place on the course not densely populated with trees that had to be removed to sculpt the hole. Off the tee, I drove my ball to position “A,” left center, while Russ nailed his shot to the clearing to the left and into trouble. My second shot, another beauty, landed on the right side of the fairway within 100 yards of the green. I was ready to show off my skills, then bladed my wedge, skidding the ball across the green to land just off the back but puttable for par.
Hole 11 | 175 yards, par 3
Rick Smith liked to call this “The Pine Valley” of Michigan, as it has a similar look and feel of one of golf ’s greatest courses. The area was so tight, the hole had to be hand-carved with a small excavator. Initially, the cart path did not reach the hole, requiring golfers to take a beautiful walk to the green. This was changed for speed of play and, sadly, golfers now miss this experience. The green slopes left to right, but that had no effect on my shot, which was pulled left into the woods. Due to the heavy snow the winter before, the dead leaves in the woods were flat, making it a cinch to find errant balls.
Hole 15 | 485 yards, par 5
Rick designed this hole to allow golfers to get back some shots late in the game. It is not a particularly long par 5 but is very deceiving, as the approach narrows and severely elevates to a two-tiered green. Many golfers underestimate the approach and come up short, landing in a series of bunkers on either side in front of the green. Russ landed on the green in two and putted in for an eagle. I was more distracted by Mike, who hit a lousy third shot to the green and immediately redropped a practice ball, nailing the green for a questionable par.
Hole 18 | 363 yards, par 4
Rick selected a beautiful finishing hole which allows big hitters to cut off yardage on the slight dogleg left. Mike came out of his loafers here, hitting a great drive that cut off yardage and shortened the hole. He was in a rush to catch his flight back to Philadelphia, and a car was waiting at the clubhouse. Russ and Kevin also nailed their drives, showing us what PGA professionals can do. The hole continues to rise to the green with a nice center bunker just short of the green ready to ruin your day. I overcooked my shot to the green, flying over and requiring a sloppy chip for a bogey. Mike landed in regulation and two-putted for par, ending a very enjoyable round at a fantastic course in Michigan. I highly recommend Treetops and hope to return soon to try my skills at the other courses.
The Signature Course
3962 Wilkinson Road
Gaylord, MI 49735
tel 866 348 5249
United Airlines announces a number of new routes.
Lufthansa is starting an innovative new carbon offset program, Compensaid, which will allow customers to purchase CO2 neutral aviation fuels. The platform allows customers to replace the fossil fuel of their flights with sustainable aviation fuel.
The Luxury Collection again teamed with artist Sofía Sanchez de Beta to unveil an exclusive capsule collection, this time with 54 pieces inspired by the Arabian Desert and Emirati culture. The ready-to-wear line includes an array of separates created with Dubai’s climate in mind, such as lightweight blouses and tunics, flowing jumpsuits, long skirts and dresses.
Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.
Google announced last month it added additional features to its price comparison tool. The tool helps users plan trips and compare rates. The new features include one that shows whether the price of a planned flight plus accommodations is low, average or high.
Singapore Airlines launched its non-stop service between Singapore (SIN) and Seattle (SEA), Sept. 3. Seattle is Singapore Airlines’ fourth U.S. destination following Los Angeles (LAX), New York (EWR) and San Francisco (SFO) to receive non-stop service to and from Singapore.
For those without accessibility issues, going to the beach can be simple. There’s nothing to do but pack up your gear, head to the shore and walk out onto the sand. For those who may be inhibited, however, the beach poses more of a challenge.