Golf lovers, listen up - it's time to load up the clubs and head to Gaylord, the North's own Alpine village that has earned the title "Golf Mecca" for being home to nearly two dozen top-of-the-line courses. Limber up with a cup of joe and a monster-sized cinnamon roll in town at Brothers Coffee & Tea (416 West Main Street, 989-705-7660) before driving about five miles south on South Ostego (which becomes Old 27).
Your destination for the day? The smoothly scenic Marsh Ridge (4815 Old 27 South, 989-732-5552), an 18-hole course that rolls over hills and dips into wooded wetlands. The elevation changes here make for spectacular views, some challenging uphill shots and a mandatory cart rule - which you'll be thankful for as you putter up a few steep inclines and bump along the lengthy wooden bridge between holes 14 and 15. Check out the sweeping panorama on hole five, a Marsh Ridge signature; hole 10 is another beauty, an elevated par three that overlooks a fountain.
Don't know the difference between a bogie and a birdie? Don't worry - the course is friendly for all golfers and offers a driving range where you can loosen up and perfect your swing with no pressure. The topography can be intimidating for some first-timers, but Marsh Ridge's golf pro J.T. Aude puts it simply: "Swing easy. Play smart. Have fun."
Wise words for out on the greens; muse over how well you followed the advice while unwinding post-play at Jac's Place, Marsh Ridge's restaurant. On a sunny afternoon, the back porch is prime for ordering up lunch and discussing the day's best shots.
Emily Bingham is assistant editor at Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine.
Note: This article was first published in October 2006 and was updated for the web February 2008.