MARQUETTE - Towering above the scenery off to the right near the entrance of the Marquette Golf Club on Grove Street is a tall, imposing conifer. Or is it?
A closer look will reveal the "tree" to be an AT&T cell phone tower, carefully camouflaged with artificial conifer branches.
Unlike a real spruce or pine tree that takes years to grow to a certain height, the tower took only about a day to erect.
Above, a monopine, or cell phone tower disguised as a pine tree, towers above other trees at the Marquette Golf Club. At left, a closeup of the cell antennae at the top of the tower. (Journal photos by Adelle Whitefoot)
And unlike other cell towers that offend the aesthetic sensibilities of some people, the Marquette Golf Club tower, called a monopine, is a good fit for the scenic golf course.
"It's supposed to blend in with the environment," said Craig Moore, grounds superintendent at the golf club.
That it does.
"If you weren't looking for it," Moore said, "you wouldn't even know it was there."
Moore said the groundwork for installing the tower began several months ago, with fiber optics laid underground. However, the tower itself went up pretty quickly.
"They put it up in a day," Moore said. "It was amazing."
Moore said the building by the tower also is hidden.
"The location's perfect," he said. "You don't see any of the fencing. It's just back there with the tree."
John Dupras, a turfing vendor for General Dynamics, said he contracted with AT&T to oversee the tower's installation.
Dupras said some neighbors near the golf course have had a negative reaction, but the golfers with whom he's spoken said they like the new tower.
Golfer Chris Cosco of Marquette said the structure's an improvement.
"It's trying to be creative," Cosco said.
Assembling the tower was challenging for Dupras at first, he said, it being his first monopine.
"It's pretty labor intensive," Dupras said.
However, the project became easier to figure out as more time was spent assembling the structure.
The needles are synthetic and the branches are created from fiberglass, he said, while mesh camouflages the antenna. And still more branches will be put on the tower, which should be operational by the end of the month, Dupras said.
Although the tower was his first monopine, Dupras pointed out he has worked on other types of camouflaged towers, including two churches in Grand Rapids.
However, he said the monopine at the Marquette Golf Club is a rarity.
"These are very few and far between," Dupras said.
However, cell towers disguised as conifers - and even palm trees out west - might become more common as creative ways to install these structures become more accepted.
Moore said he wouldn't be surprised if these towers starting popping up all over.
"It's not just your typical cell tower," he said.
Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.