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GRAND TRAVERSE RESORT - The Bear (800-748-0303)

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Michigan Golf Course Review

Grand Traverse Resort - Bear Course - Michigan Golf Course

The photos in this review are of the Bear at Grand Traverse Resort.

General Information

The NEW Grand Traverse Resort in Acme is located just a couple miles east of Traverse City. NEW because of the extensive 14 million dollar renovation that the property recently underwent - to make it the most upscale golf resort in Michigan! On property are 600 well appointed guest rooms, three championship golf courses, a full service spa and fitness area, Wi-Fi throughout the property, a grand lobby with lounge, magnificent beach club, outdoor pool, indoor pool area with free form pool and large lap pool, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, locker rooms with saunas, game rooms, fine and casual dining (6 restaurant/lounges), an array of retail stores including a deli with Starbucks coffee, 85,000 square feet of flexible meeting/conference space - and free shuttle to the Turtle Creek Casino just a few miles away! For more information on the resort - click here.

Grand Traverse Resort - Bear Course - Michigan Golf Course
Grand Traverse Resort - Bear Course - Michigan Golf Course

We spent 4 nights at the resort and played golf each day. It is an incredible convenience to have your clubs stored and to simply walk to the pro shop each morning (perhaps grabbing a Starbucks along the way) - with attendants having everything set up and ready for you to hit some balls and to enjoy a challenging round on one of the three beautiful golf courses. Looking to tone up your game? The Jim Mclean Golf School is on property with a variety of individual and group instruction and clinics available. The practice facilities are comprehensive, with a spacious targeted grass range (stacked with complimentary balls), short game area plus putting greens.

Grand Traverse Resort - Bear Course - Michigan Golf Course
Grand Traverse Resort - Bear Course - Michigan Golf Course

The clubhouse includes a well stocked pro shop - with the latest in equipment, accessories and beautiful Grand Traverse Resort logo attire. The service is outstanding as the attendants genuinely go out of their way to make sure all is in place. Example - during our visit a young customer had forgotten to wear a collared shirt (which is required) and the pro shop was kind enough to "loan" him a shirt so that he would not have to miss his tee time.

Grand Traverse Resort - Bear Course - Michigan Golf Course
Grand Traverse Resort - Bear Course - Michigan Golf Course

A restaurant/lounge is also part of the clubhouse, with a varied lunch menu on tap. The spacious outdoor patio is a great meeting spot, with wonderful views of the opening and closing holes of the Bear. The golf carts are equipped with ball and club washers, and the Kirby Marking System is in place, with measurements every 25 yards from 200 to 100 yards (250 on par fives). The Bear also has sprinkler heads that are measured to the center of the green. Scorecards have pin placement and green depth information, as well as diagrams of each hole.


The Bear, designed by Jack Nicklaus, is widely recognized as one of the premier courses in the country. The manicured fairways are mostly tree lined with bunkering and water hazards helping to frame the hole designs. Native high grasses and mounding line the perimeters, creating the need for accurate tee shots. Golfers will need their top mid iron and short games here to score well here. The green complexes are unforgiving - well protected by mounds, swales and penal sand bunkers. Miss on the approach and up and downs can be tricky business. It is also important to pay attention to the hole locations, and these fast paced putting surfaces have subtle slopes and ridges.

Grand Traverse Resort - Bear Course - Michigan Golf Course
Grand Traverse Resort - Bear Course - Michigan Golf Course

There are 53 sand bunkers located near the landing zones or strategically situated greenside - but it seems like there are more! Water is also a strong feature, as 14 holes have hazards in play in the form of lakes, ponds and marshes. The 13th - surrounded by water and sand, is one of the most daunting par threes golfers will encounter. The par four finishing hole is also a "bear" as it measures 467 yards from the tips and demands a carry over a lake on the approach.

Grand Traverse Resort - Bear Course - Michigan Golf Course

Want an indication of the toughness of this layout? The WHITE tees play to a 140 slope, from 6122 yards! The tips measure 7078 yards with a 148 slope one of the highest in Michigan. Alternate sets measure 6601 yards/144 slope and 5281 yards with a slope of 139 for women hitting from the forward tees. I have played this course twice - and have had one of my worst rounds ever - but also have enjoyed one of my best. Good shots are rewarded - bad shots are very much penalized. Enjoy it!

Three 4 star (Golf Digest Places to Play) championship courses, great service, wonderful accommodations and amenities and great location - we highly recommend a stay here! For more info, visit our page for the course, with direct link to their website by clicking here.

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