GAM Partner Spotlight – Welcome to the Club: Garland Lodge & Golf Resort Celebrates 70 Years of Golf


Welcome to the Club: Garland Lodge & Golf Resort Celebrates 70 Years of Golf

  LEWISTON – This summer Garland Lodge & Golf Resort celebrates 70 years of welcoming golfers to its expansive, beautiful, and yet unassuming vacation playground in the center of the lower peninsula near Gaylord.

   “Golf has been very good to Garland for 70 years,” says Dave Sanderson, president and chief operating officer starting his seventh golf season.

  “Unassuming is a good word to describe Garland I think. One of the things mentioned the most by our guests is how different the four golf courses are, and another thing is the food and beverage quality. We’re not especially fancy, but we are very good.”

  Sanderson feels the true appeal of Garland comes in many forms and layers.

  “I think the peacefulness, the nature, the bald eagles that nest here, the landscaping, all those things combined with how friendly the staff is makes a difference,” he says. “One thing I hear a lot is that Garland has more of a club feel to it than a lot of resorts. I think we make our guests feel like they belong to the club. We blend that resort and club feel.”

  Golf Association of Michigan members through a special Garland promotion can “join the club” and contribute to the future of golf as well. A special GAM package soon to be announced will include two-nights lodging and three rounds of golf. For each GAM member who books the package Garland is donating $15 per package back to the GAM Foundation and its work with Youth on Course in Michigan.

  “I wanted to do something as a give-back,” Sanderson says. “I have an affinity for junior golf, so therefore the Youth on Course program works well with this, it’s important to the future of the game, and we want the GAM members to see what we have to offer at Garland.”

  Garland, it might surprise most, has 400 beds in their multiple accommodation choices, and four unique golf courses that offer a variety of experiences centered at one convenient clubhouse. Big and small “clubs” are welcome for there is plenty of room to move about and garner a true resort experience, and of course, four golf courses.

  Fountains, Monarch, Reflections and Swampfire, each aptly named and immaculately conditioned await. Four experiences, each unique in many ways, allow a golfer to choose or simply try a different one each round.

  The late Ron Otto designed the four courses, but the Fountains course was redesigned in 2010 by Illinois architect Michael Benkusky, who is highly regarded for his work at Canyata Golf Club in Marshall, Ill.

  It plays between 4,600 yards and almost 6,800 and offers significant challenge with its undulating greens. Sanderson says people make the mistake of looking at the scorecard upon starting on Fountains and thinking they might eat the course up.

  “Then they look down at the finish and wonder what happened,” he says. “It’s a placement course in a lot of places with a lot of risk-reward type things. It’s probably our premier course in terms of condition and exclusivity.”

 Monarch, meanwhile, is the most traditional championship course of the foursome. It plays between 4,900 yards and almost 7,300 and has been favored over the years by the likes of the Michigan Section PGA when it presented its Michigan PGA Professional Championship at the resort from 1992 to ’94. Historical note: Barry Redmond, son of a former Garland golf professional Alex Redmond, won the ’92 championship.

  “It’s the longest of our courses if you go to the tips, but we have several tee choices and from the white tees, my tees, it plays about 6,200 yards and the fairways are reasonably wide,” Sanderson says. “There are some large green complexes with subtleties that require that you pay attention. There’s more to the course than first meets the eye. It and Fountains are the courses we generally use for our high-profile events like the club championship or other tournaments we host.”

  Reflections is the shortest of the four courses playing between 4,700 and 6,400 yards, but it demands accuracy among the trees and the navigation of some elevation changes. Bunkers protect most of the greens, and it might be the picture-perfect prettiest course.

  “I think the stretch from 7 through 12 are some of finest holes on the property,” Sanderson says. “I love playing Reflections. It has the great northern hardwoods, lots of bunkers and that beautiful stretch of holes.”

  Swampfire has water visible on 15 of 18 holes and Sanderson says the course is aptly named

  “Here is the thing about Swampfire; you look and think holy cow, but I think it has some Pete Dye influence. Pete would try to mess with your mind and visually intimidate you. That’s Swampfire. Most of the water is not in play. It is in your head. I think it’s a great layout with all kinds of different holes and some of our best holes, too.”

   Some resources have been invested in the fairways and greens and Sanderson says the payoff will come this year with faster greens and firmer fairways.

    “We’re looking to improve on a continual basis and upgrading in all areas,” he says.

  New technology has been implemented in the lodging door locks, and Sanderson says the biggest investment this year will be in pay adjustments for the team members.

  “We have a great team and we want to keep them around,” he says. “Almost all of it is market driven. We struggle to have enough staff at certain points in the year. We want to build in incentives and keep building teamwork. I started my career as a bartender in a hotel bar. Our guests tell us they like the way they are treated. We want to reward our team for that, and we want to continue hearing that feedback.”

   Garland is located in Lewiston and part of the cooperative Gaylord Golf Mecca marketing group, a collection of 17 other destination golf courses in the area. Visit for more information or call 877-442-7526.

-SPONSORED CONTENT produced by the GAM for Garland Lodge & Golf Resort