If you need an excuse to visit the Grand Rapids (Mich.) area, please add ArtPrize to your list. In case you’ve been hiding in a cave, ArtPrize is the wildly popular public art exhibition, brainchild of Rick DeVos, that transforms downtown Grand Rapids for nearly three weeks with over 1500 artists being featured at more than 150 venues. Now in its third year and starting this week, ArtPrize has drawn national acclaim not only for its vibrant art but also for its contribution to tourism and “cool city” dynamism. In fact, I’m so hooked on it, my wife and I are volunteers this year at one of the venues. Check out www.artprize.org
OK, so this being a golf content site, what’s the hook here? Well, let me suggest to my outstate friends a day or two at ArtPrize while playing some local golf as well. The public and private golf in the Grand Rapids region is plentiful and desirable. And it being fall, the pricing is also very attractive.
On the public side, popular favorites—according to recent polling of my infallible and itinerant golf pals– are Pilgrim’s Run in Pierson, Thousand Oaks in Grand Rapids, The Meadows at GVSU in Allendale, Diamond Springs in Hamilton, and LE Kaufman (when it’s dry) in Wyoming. Each is a very good layout with its own singular personality and design. You can’t go wrong picking any of them as none of them are too penal. All have websites, so google them to check out details on rates and locations.
If you’re lucky enough to be a private club member, your pro may be able to arrange reciprocal playing privileges at some of the clubs in the area. Egypt Valley CC, which hosted the USGA Junior Championship last summer and was a longtime venue of a Senior/Champions event, offers a demanding and modern design test set amid beautiful surroundings in Ada. It’s located nearby the superb Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, which also serves as an ArtPrize venue. And in the vicinity is Blythefield CC, a venerable, walker-friendly design with some wonderful holes along the pristine Rogue River. It hosted the 1961 Western Open, won by someone named Arnold Palmer, and also hosted the 2009 GAM Senior Amateur.
However, my personal favorite is Muskegon CC, a Donald Ross-designed gem that only gets better with age and smart attention. The members and staff at Muskegon have done a stellar job over the years in carefully pruning and clearing trees and restoring some of the sight lines of this Centennial and counting course. They haven’t let trees trumped their golf and I applaud them for their efforts. Not only a joy to walk, Muskegon remains a stout but not too stern examination of one’s game. Annually, it has served as a qualifying venue for the U.S Amateur which is ample testimony to its mettle. And it’s blessed with some of the most scenic and playable fescue rough in the area. To me, how the superintendent and staff have managed and nurtured the high fescue is a marvel. It’s wispy but not too gnarly, serving just the right dosage of penalty for missing the fairway. That leads me to say: it’s a penalty on you if you keep missing this fine course as well as ArtPrize the next time you’re in the area.
ArtPrize logo courtesy of ArtPrize
The Meadows photo courtesy of The Meadows