MARQUETTE - Almost every golf course in Marquette, Alger, Baraga, Luce, Schoolcraft and western Mackinac County has opened for the season.
A few have only had "soft" openings, where all facilities aren't available to the public and the course itself is only open to members.
But most of the larger courses are fully up and running, thanks in large part to the record-setting warmth the Upper Peninsula enjoyed for a full week in mid-March.
The fourth tee box at the NMU Golf Course off M-28 in Chocolay Township is warmed by a fall sun in late September. (Journal file photo)
The scenic Greywalls course at the Marquette Golf Club is shown in early October. The NMU Golf Course opened the front nine on Saturday. Greywalls isn’t scheduled to open until May 1, however, the 18 holes of the MGC’s Heritage course are open for play. (Journal file photo)
Wind whips the flag on the second green of Gentz’s Homestead Golf Course on County Road 480 in Chocolay Township in early October. The course opened up nine holes two weeks ago and will have carts available starting today. (Journal file photo)
Several course managers and superintendents said Thursday that this year was the earliest they'd ever seen their courses open, though some of the smaller, family-run businesses are still waiting for their spring and summer staff members to become available so they can fully function.
Here is a rundown of these dozen courses:
Marquette Golf Club
The U.P.'s largest golf facility with 36 holes, the club's original Heritage Course opened Saturday, according to assistant golf pro Mike Polini.
"The course is in excellent shape, and all 18 greens are available to play," he said, adding that carts will become available today, the pro shop and driving range are open daily, the bar during the daytime on weekends with the clubhouse yet to open at this facility located in the city of Marquette.
He expects the newer Greywalls course to open around May 1, though possibly earlier. Call 225-0721 for more information.
NMU Golf Course
The former Chocolay Downs Golf Club off M-28 in Chocolay Township opened its front nine on Saturday and will probably open the back nine sometime next week, according to NMU student employee Emily Stenson.
Carts are OK to use and a snack service is currently available, she said.
A few temporary greens were established when the course first opened, though the regular greens should be available soon if they're aren't already, according to Stenson. Call 227-3111.
The course located between Ishpeming and Champion in Ely Township opened its front nine early last week and back nine three days later, about a week ago.
"Everything on the course is beautiful," general manager Ryan Tunteri said, adding that carts are OK to use and every green is in playing shape. Call 485-1435.
Located on County Road 480 in Chocolay Township, the course opened its nine holes for walking about two weeks ago and will have carts available starting today, according to co-owner Cathy Gentz.
The driving range actually opened three weeks ago, and Gentz reports all greens are in excellent shape and that the bar and pro shop are both open. Call 249-1002.
Red Fox Run
All 18 holes at the course located just off M-94 at Sawyer officially opened on Tuesday, according to general manager Geno Parlato.
"The greens are like the top of a pool table," Parlato said, adding that carts are available though the grill hasn't opened yet.
The course also has a new pro this year, Dennis Kargela. Call 346-7010.
The course located just east of Munising on Alger County Highway 58 has been available for members to play since March 19, though it won't have its official opening for the public until next Friday, according to manager Traci Prunick.
All 18 greens are available, while the clubhouse won't be totally available until the official opening. Call 387-3970.
L'Anse Golf Club
The course's nine holes opened on March 24, its earliest ever, according to manager Andrea Mantta.
Carts are available, too, at this course just south of L'Anse off U.S. 41. Call 524-6600.
Indian Lake Golf Club
This course, located on Indian Lake just off M-94 a few miles north of Manistique, opened all 18 of its holes on March 21, according to new manager Evelyn Bryant.
Carts and the pro shop are up and running, and while the restaurant hasn't opened, a sandwich service is available, Bryant said. Call 341-5600.
This course, located near the intersection of M-28 and M-123 just south of Newberry, hasn't officially opened, but may do so as soon as next week, according to a spokesman who works on the course's maintenance crew.
Blue Heron Golf Club
This nine-hole course located about three miles east of Germfask off M-77 has been open since late March, according to owner and manager Wendell Handrich.
Carts are available, though staff are working to get all the amenities up to summer speed. Call 586-3359.
Located off U.S. 2 in Naubinway, a few miles east of the intersection with M-77, this public nine-hole course is expected to officially open on April 27, though members are already playing, according to manager Vicky Warner.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.