MARQUETTE - Chocolay Golf Club owners Joe and Patsie Gibbs of Interlochen donated the 18-hole course, buildings and equipment to the Northern Michigan University Foundation in January.
The value of the gift is $1.6 million.
The Gibbses, whose daughter graduated from NMU, developed the course in 1991 on property they purchased in Chocolay Township. Joe Gibbs said they sold it to a California group through a land contract in 2006 so that he and his wife could move back to the Grand Traverse area to be closer to his elderly mother.
Chocolay Golf Club superintendent Gary Perkins walks the course grounds in this photo. (Journal file photo)
"We think the world of the people who purchased it, but they weren't able to keep making the payments, so we had to reacquire it last fall," Gibbs said. "Pat suggested we look into giving the golf course to Northern and keeping some of the surrounding acreage for ourselves. I thought it was a great idea.
"We love Marquette and did very well up there. We couldn't have been happier about our time in the area, so it makes us proud to be able to do something good in return for the community."
NMU plans to operate the course for the upcoming golf season, with all net proceeds going to student scholarships and academic programming. The club will remain open to the public. Information will be made available to club members and the general public as soon as ownership transition details are finalized.
A number of academic, athletic, recreational and social program ideas, including internships, are being considered for the 220-acre property. Possibilities include use by the Wildcat golf team and outdoor recreation academic programs. The course might also become a year-round venue with winter activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
"Northern deeply appreciates Joe and Patsie's generosity," NMU President Les Wong said. "They wanted the course to continue to serve the area community, the university and our students, and we will work hard to meet those expectations. This is a wonderful asset - one that we hope will not be limited to golf and will complement other outdoor venues in the community." Chocolay becomes the ninth golf course in Michigan to be owned and operated by one of the state's public universities.