Island Hills has cottages available now

By Len Ziehm CENTREVILLE, Mich. -- The Scott family's five 18-hole courses aren't far from either Island Hills or Yarrow Golf & Conference Resort. All are near the bigger Michigan cities of Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, but the facilities are all quite different - in a good way. Between them they make Southwest Michigan a convenient golf getaway location, especially for players from the Chicago area. Island Hills has been my most frequent stop in the area, and its owner Bob Griffioen is one of the most progressive golf operators in the country. Located in Centreville, Island Hills features a Ray Hearn-designed course, one of about 25 the architect has had a role in creating in his home state. Hearn's original designed opened in 1999. Griffin purchased the property in 2009 and brought Hearn back for extensive renovations in 2010. Signature Cottages at Island HillsThis year, though, the story at Island Hills isn't about what Hearn has done to what is already a quality layout playable by all levels of golfers. This spring Griffioen and Andy Mears, who moved over from Indiana's Swan Lake to become Island Hills' president and chief operating officer, unveiled much-needed lodging at the facility. Island Hills has in effect entered the resort business with the opening of the first three Signature Point Cottages overlooking the par-3 17th hole. Each has four and five-bedroom units with meeting/recreation rooms on the lower levels. (more…)

Downstate Illinois’ Rock River is steeped in history

By Len Ziehm ROCK FALLS, IL. --  I'll admit it.  I'm a sucker for golf history. That explains why it seemed a good idea to stop by what had been Rock River Country Club en route to the PGA Tour's John  Deere Classic in Silvis, about 40 miles further west. Rock River Celebrating 100 YearsOfficially known now as Rock River Golf  & Pool, the facility is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2013. Several clubs in the Chicago suburbs have long past  year No. 100.  The Downers Grove golf course was America's first 18-hole course when it opened in 1892.  It was reduced to a nine-holer long ago and is now owned by the Downers Grove Park District. (more…)

NW Indiana: Start is spectacular at Lost Marsh

By Len Ziehm Lost Marsh Clubhouse Hammond HAMMOND, Ind. - The Lost Marsh golf course didn't exist when I lived in Northwest Indiana from 1967-69 and was just getting serious about golf. What a shame! Back then, while working for the Hammond Times immediately after finishing college, the courses of choice were Wicker Park - it had a player-friendly course, the best hot dogs in Indiana and a most friendly staff - and the much newer Scherwood, in Schererville. Then there was Woodmar, right next to Wicker, but it was a private club and difficult to get on. (more…)

Erin Hills: Wisconsin layout will be a popular destination prior to ’17 Open

By Len Ziehm Erin HillsErin, Wis. - The hoopla was extraordinary when Erin Hills first welcomed golfers in 2006.  The very upscale public course on the outskirts of Milwaukee was even awarded a U.S. Golf Assn. national championship (the 2008 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links) before its land was even seeded. By 2009 - following an ownership change from creator Bob Lang to Milwaukee businessman Andy Ziegler, co-founder of the investment firm Artisan Partners - Erin Hills was named a site for both the 2011 U.S. Amateur and the 2017 U.S. Open. Frankly, I couldn't understand why. (more…)