Boyne Golf: The Heather Course at The Highlands Hosts Michigan Amateur This Week

Classic Robert Trent Jones Sr. layout plays host for the fifth time

HARBOR SPRINGS, MI—The Heather Course at The Highlands will once again host the Michigan Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland this week (Monday through Friday, June 17-21). This will be the fifth time since 1998 that the state’s most prestigious golf championship will be held on the classic Robert Trent Jones Sr. layout.

Defending champion August Meekhof of Eastmanville has turned professional, but 12 of last year’s “Sweet 16” return to make memories in the 113th edition of the state amateur championship. An added element to this year’s Michigan Amateur is the winner receiving an exemption into the 2024 U.S. Amateur Championship. The USGA recently added the winners of selected state championships to the exemptions lists for its national championships.

“We are very excited to once again be hosting the state’s premier amateur championship and showcasing one of the best golf courses in the country,” said Casey Powers, the director of golf for BOYNE Golf. “The Heather has become one of the premier tests of golf for the best players in Michigan, and has produced memorable championships and great champions over the years.”

Opened in 1966 and BOYNE Golf’s first nationally recognized golf course, The Heather, with its classic parkland design, narrow fairways, large greens, massive bunkering, and one of the most exciting finishing holes in golf, is certain to continue its tradition of producing great champions. This year will have tough acts to follow.

  • In 1998 Shawn Koch of Howell beat Stephen Polanski of Livonia 2 and 1 in the final match. Koch, who also won the GAM Championship that summer, went on to an award-winning PGA professional teaching career in Georgia. He is currently the director of instruction at The Atlanta Athletic Club.
  • In 2006 Greg Davies of West Bloomfield beat Ryan Brehm of Mount Pleasant 5 and 4 in the final match. Davies, GAM Senior Champion in 2023, is a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, was in the Sweet 16 a year ago and is back in the field this year at age 56. Brehm, the 2007 Amateur champion, currently plays on the PGA Tour.
  • In 2011 Willie Mack III of Flint beat defending champion Joey Garber of Petoskey 4 and 3 in the final match. Mack III played on the PGA’s Korn Ferry Tour in 2023, as did Garber, who has also played on the PGA Tour in recent years. Mack also played in the recent U.S. Open Championship.
  • In 2020 Tyler Copp of Ann Arbor beat James Piot of Canton 2 and 1 in the final match. Copp has since turned professional and is playing mini-tour golf around the country. Piot, a two-time GAM Champion, went on to win the U.S. Amateur championship in 2021 and in 2022 and 2023 played on the LIV tour.

“It seems like the best players from our tournaments on The Heather have all gone on to do something more at another level,” said Ken Hartmann, senior director of competitions and USGA services for the Golf Association of Michigan, which annually administers the state championship. “I think it shows that over the week of a championship with the best players, the Heather proves who has the all-around game.”

Powers agreed with Hartmann’s assessment. “The golf course makes you hit every shot, it has multiple dogleg holes, there are times where you can hit driver, and other times where you have to gear down and keep it in play,” he said. “It becomes the ultimate test. You have to hit great irons, and with the big, tilted greens, you have to putt well.”

Hartmann said players must have a plan for the Heather.

“The scoring side is on the back, it’s a little more open but that doesn’t mean you can just bomb it, especially on the last few holes, and 18 with the second shot over the pond makes for great drama and viewing,” he said. “The first six, seven holes through the woods on the front side are difficult. You have to control your golf ball, or you will be in the penalty areas. The Heather is a great test of golf.”

Named the 2018 Michigan Golf Course of the Year by the Michigan Golf Course Association and 2019 National Course of the Year by the National Golf Course Owners Association, The Heather has been credited with launching the resort golf industry in northern Michigan. Boyne’s founder and Michigan Golf Hall of Famer, the late Everett Kircher, in large part to keep his ski resort employees around and working during the snowless summer months, decided to get into the golf business. He sought out Jones, the most popular and successful architect of that era, and commissioned him to design The Heather. The course is consistently ranked among the best golf courses in Michigan.

For the championship, The Heather will play at a maximum of 7,118 yards. The starting field will play two rounds of stroke play on Monday and Tuesday to determine the match-play field of 64. Two rounds of matches on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday will determine the champion.

About BOYNE Golf

Boyne Resorts have been recognized among the “Top 100 Resorts” by GOLF Magazine and one of the “Best Resorts in the Americas” by Golf Digest.

The Inn at Bay Harbor and Bay Harbor Golf Club, Boyne’s flagship properties, feature 45-holes including three golf course combinations designed by Arthur Hills (Links/Quarry, Quarry/Preserve, and Preserve/Links), and the scenic Crooked Tree Golf Club, with one of the most beautiful and iconic hotels in America, all set along a scenic five-mile stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline.

The Highlands at Harbor Springs, rated the No. 1 Golf Resort for Value by Golf.com, features 72 holes of premier golf design. The Heather, the 2019 NGCOA Course of the Year, was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., while the Hills Course was crafted by Arthur Hills. In addition, the resort features The Donald Ross Memorial, which is a rendition of the legendary architect’s great holes from around the country, and the always-fun Moor course. The Highland at Harbor Springs is the perfect buddy trip destination for golfers who like to play as many holes as they can during the long summer daylight hours northern Michigan features.

Boyne Mountain not only features two fun 18-hole courses (The Monument and Alpine), along with the charming Mountain Grand Lodge & Spa, it is also the leading family friendly golf destination in the region with the Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark, junior golf camps, and various kid golf programs. Golf Digest named Boyne Mountain one of its “Top-10 Destinations for Family Golf Trips.”

Visit www.BOYNEgolf.com.

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