The Manitou Passage Golf Club looks and feels new, thanks to its recent renovation work, but one thing remains the same from the old King’s Challenge course, the golf club still roams through the same beautiful wooded, hilly landscape that makes the Leelanau Peninsula one of the most special places in Michigan. The setting at Manitou Passage in Cedar is idyllic and serene, tucked far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Every round feels like an intimate escape. Golfweek named it among the top 50 “new” courses to open in 2010 and 2011.
The work since 2009 to revive the course, spearheaded by Bob Kuras, president of The Homestead, has been nothing short of spectacular. The new paved entry way leads to a wonderfully cozy rebuilt clubhouse of cedar shake and ledgestone. Inside dual stone fireplaces, a library and trophy alcoves with Arnold Palmer memorabilia, luxurious furnishings, original art and warm, rich woods help golfers feel at home.
Changes at Manitou Passage made the par-71, 6,688-yard course more playable and less severe. Hole 18 was lengthened to a 525-yard par 5. Seventeen is a picturesque par 3, with an elevated view to the valley floor and the wooded expanse. A large bunker that encircled the right side of the green was halved with a walkway. You can now see the green from every tee location. Sixteen is now a much more forgiving, yet still demanding par 4, as tees crowding the left dogleg were moved west. The par 4 left dogleg second hole is less restrictive. The tee stations on the fourth hole were moved left providing a much more favorable routing to the green.
The exclamation point to the new Manitou Passage can be witnessed at hole 8, an exhilarating downhill par 5 that tempts reward at the risk of getting wet should you try to reach the putting surface in two shots. Take a moment before you tee off because it is here, at the highest point on the course, that you can see the Manitou Islands and the expanse of water that separate them from the mainland.
Memories can be made throughout the round. Just ask celebrity chef Mario Batali, who watched one of his sons sink a hole-in-one on the seventh hole last summer.
For those looking to stay awhile, The Homestead in Glen Arbor, 10 minutes from the course, is home to a Dave Pelz Scoring School, the Mountain Flowers par-3 course, Spa Amira and a great beach complex with a pool, hot tub and tennis courts. For more visit thehomesteadresort.com or manitoupassagegolfclub.com.