Garland Lodge & Golf Resort: Four courses equal one good getaway in northern Michigan

LEWISTON, Mich. -- Convenience has always been king at Garland Lodge & Golf Resort in northern Michigan.

Golfers simply pull into the parking lot and never have to leave. Everything is centrally located in this golf getaway east of Gaylord: four courses within walking distance of the main lodge, multiple restaurants, an outdoor pool, fitness center and a bar featuring weekend entertainment. Garland is the one-stop destination. New ownership has invested millions of dollars in improvements throughout the property since 2009.

"The four courses from one clubhouse is one of the biggest draws," says Aaron Gentry, the director of sales for the resort. "You just get that camaraderie experience because everybody is together. Nothing is too far. You can have fun and do what you want to do."

The resort

Those who haven't been to Garland since long-time owner Ron Otto sold the resort in 2009 might not recognize portions of the main lodge, the largest log resort east of the Mississippi River. The lobby, restaurant and lounge areas have all been renovated. Outside, the surrounding flowers and landscaping accents the surrounding northern hardwoods and pines.

The main lodge is home to the Tamarack Dining Room, where a moose head above the fireplace gives the room that hunting lodge appeal. It's where daily breakfast is served, and prime rib buffets are popular for dinner. The atmosphere in the Antlers Bar and Grill, stocked with flat screen TVs, has been revived with the return of live bands every weekend.

The resort's former real estate office has been transformed into a fitness facility with an indoor lap pool and hot tub. Accommodations range from some newly updated rooms in the lodge to golf villas and cottages.

Garland will stay open this winter, providing an escape for those interested in the area's highly coveted snowmobiling trails and cross country skiing.

Garland Lodge & Golf Resort is versatile enough to handle any corporate meeting function or wedding. Brides will love the ceremony site, a secluded spot surrounded by 200-year-old maple trees and evergreens with a cascading fountain in a pond as the backdrop. Receptions can be held in the rustic Great Room with deer antler chandeliers or in an outdoor tent that holds up to 300.

Garland Lodge & Golf Resort: The courses

As good as everything else is, golf is the ultimate draw. Otto designed all the courses himself, opening them between 1987 and 1995 during Michigan's golf boom. All four showcase the surrounding forests, but each plays dramatically different.

The original is the 6,854-yard Swampfire Course, where water lurks on 16 of the 18 holes.

Garland's Monarch Course, opened a year later, plays longer (7,166 yards) but is more wide open, which helps big hitters who might be a little erratic.

The Reflections Course, which came online in 1990, is the shortest layout on property at 6,373 yards, although it requires the most accuracy.

The newest golf course, the Fountains, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2014, seems to be everybody's favorite. The 6,760-yard course is now back open to the public after operating as a private club for the members for several years. Its undulating greens challenge even the best putters.

New maintenance equipment and the hiring of more staff have the courses in prime shape.

"Most of the guests have been saying the courses are in the best condition they've seen in over a decade, back to where they were in the glory days," Gentry says. "The extra labor and equipment, the top dressing and verticutting, a much better aeration schedule, that's all helping. The feedback has been great all year."

Golf Advisor user "dzimmer382" gave his Garland experience five stars. "This is a great place to play," he wrote.

This content was sponsored by Garland Lodge & Golf Resort.

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Garland Lodge & Golf Resort: Four courses equal one good getaway in northern Michigan