Sweetgrass Golf Course Review

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Introduction

Resort golf is often synonymous with high prices, slow play, and mediocre courses.  Island Resort Casino and Sweetgrass Golf Club turn those expectations on their head by pairing a great golf course with great value.

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Practice Facility

The practice facility at Sweetgrass Golf Club gets just about everything right.  First, it’s compact.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of spots on the range or that the putting green isn’t big enough to fit a couple foursomes; it means that you can get from the practice green to the range to the short game area in seconds.  Additionally, all of these things are located near the first tee, so you can warm up thoroughly without missing your tee time.  Last but not least, each part of the practice facility is great.  The putting green has lots of slopes, but it also has areas to work on straight putts.  The range has grass and mats, and it has a number of target greens.

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Amenities & Customer Service

The staff at Sweetgrass Golf Club and Island Resort Casino could not be nicer, more genuine people.  From the guys shuttling carts to the head pro and the course superintendent, everyone at the resort is focused on making sure you’re having a great experience.

The list of amenities offered by Island Resort Casino is long and growing.  It starts with the spacious, clean hotel rooms and continues to the myriad of delicious dining options.  Island Resort Casino has seven different food and drink venues including a steakhouse and a sports bar.  Speaking of venues, the Island Showroom is home to world class comedians, musicians, and more.  Finally, of course, there’s the casino which includes slots, table games, bingo, and a poker room.  If that’s not enough, Island Resort Casino will be adding a spa and a second golf course in the near future.

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Course Conditions

Spectacular.  From tee to green, it’s nearly impossible to find a flaw in the conditions at Sweetgrass Golf Club.  The greens are smooth, consistent, and run at a quick-but-fair speed.  You get equally good conditions on the tee boxes which are flat and well-grassed, even on the par 3’s.  Everything between the tee and green is excellent as well – the bunkers are full of sand, the fairways are uniform, and the rough is penal but playable.

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Beauty & Scenery

Sweetgrass Golf Club is a beautiful course with a unique blend of links and parkland elements.  Sweetgrass starts with a tree-lined hole, but quickly opens up to a series of holes where you can see for huge distances in every direction.

What I particularly like about Sweetgrass is the blend of elements – water, sand, trees, and tall grasses – and the natural look of the place.  There’s a lot of elevation in play, but it’s all kept in scale with the surroundings.  Similarly, the holes all have mounds and swales, but they aren’t so tall or so deep that they seem artificial.  Sweetgrass achieves that look that so many courses aim for: that of a beautiful landscape where someone simply put flags in the ground.

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Course Design & Difficulty

As home to the LPGA Symetra Tour’s Island Resort Championship, Sweetgrass is tested annually by some of the best players in the world.  While it has the potential to challenge the most skilled players, this is also a course where recreational golfers can have a lot of fun.

Sweetgrass Golf Club is definitively a second-shot golf course.  The landing areas off the tee are enormous, unless you’re playing very aggressively.  There are a number of forced carries off the tee, but if you pick the appropriate tee box, none are too stressful.  All that said, if you drive it wildly into the tall grass, your chances of finding and playing your ball are nil.

To score well, you need to be really dialed in with your approach shots.  Though the yardage book seems to indicates that you can play a ground game here, the reality is that the mounding, bunkers, rough, and elevation require you to attack the greens from the air.  The putting surfaces are varied – some are segmented, some have substantial break, and others are relatively flat.  Knowing the shape of the green and the location of the pin is important for planning a successful approach.

Finally, Sweetgrass keeps your attention throughout the round with a great variety of holes.  From the white tees, the par 3’s are 158, 193, 173, and 141 yards, and each one is dramatically different – you’ll play downhill, uphill, and to an island green.  There’s even more diversity in the par 4’s.  The front and back nines both open with a short par 4, but each also has at least one that’s over 400 yards from the white tees.  With doglegs that turn left and right, plenty of elevation changes, and numerous hazards, it’s impossible to be bored at Sweetgrass.

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Value

I usually omit discussions of price, but the values and deals that Sweetgrass offers need to be mentioned.  Often, resort golf means triple-digit price tags regardless of the quality of the course.  Sweetgrass takes the opposite approach, offering a great course with a maximum rate of $80.  Playing in the spring or fall costs only $55 or $45, respectively, and replay rates range from $30 to $40.

Sweetgrass also offers a ready-made vacation package called The Perfect 4-Some that is a tremendous value.  You can get two nights at Island Resort Casino and three rounds of golf for as little as $260.  What makes it even better is that you can mix and match your golf among three courses – Sweetgrass, Timber Stone, and Greywalls – all ranked in the Top 15 Courses You Can Play in Michigan.

You can see all of Island Resort Casino’s golf packages HERE.

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Conclusion

Whether you like your golf with a side of gambling, shows, good food, or simply a comfortable room to rest in, Island Resort Casino has you covered.  Sweetgrass Golf Club is a fantastic course, and the resort will keep you entertained for all the hours in between your tee times.

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Matt Saternus

Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Plugged In Golf. He's worked in nearly every job in the golf industry from club fitting to instruction to writing and speaking. Matt lives in the northwest suburbs of Chicago with his wife and two daughters.

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3 Comments

  1. I appreciated your concise yet compelling review, Matt. Short and sweet but informative and meaty — the best kind of review. Cheers!

  2. I agree 100% with your review. I played it a few days before the Symtera tour rolled in and the course was in excellent shape. It is one of the courses i try to play while visiting the in laws. If you ever go back you should check out the Gladstone Golf Club. My favorite course I have played all year. Love your site. Keep up the great work.

  3. Matt, what a great review. Our golfing group plays at these courses every July. The conditions and service are always top notch.

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