A-GA-MING Resort Sundance Course

It is doubtful area natives would have envisioned golf on the bluff, but it’s certain they’ve stopped to see the sun dancing off the bodies of water in the distance.

Sundance, the golf course, the latest Jerry Matthews design, has been added to the A-Ga-Ming Resort complex. It joins the original layout created in part by Michigan golf legend Chick Harbert.

Located nine miles north of Elk Rapids between Traverse City and Charlevoix, the resort sits astride a bluff between Torch Lake to the east and Grand Traverse Bay to the west. A-Ga-Ming, translates to “on the water.” “In the sand” also works to describe this modern course that stretches to 7,000 yards on 200 acres of glacier-carved property. Matthews has designed 118 sand bunkers, which dramatically define holes, create aiming points and serve as hazards.

“Only about half of them are in play,” Mike Brown, the general manager/part owner says. “A lot of them are visual drama. Sand is very natural to this area.” Matthews, the most prolific designer of golf courses in state history, was asked by Brown and his partner, PGA professional Larry Lavely, to create a playable, yet dramatic layout. On-site construction manager Steve St. James shaped a collection of links-style holes with wide fairways and large greens amid hardwoods and rolling hills. Brown is elated with the result.

“It’s stunning,” he said. “We thought his work at Buck’s Run (near Mount Pleasant) was great. We wanted that kind of golf course, with a new twist. He gave it to us. We don’t have water in play as much as Buck’s Run has, but we have the natural sand. It’s dramatic.”

Matthews, too, is pleased. “It’s a wonderful site with natural areas for the tees and greens,” he said. “I think it will be a very popular golf course.”

It offers sharp contrast in looks and golf strategy to the existing 18 at the course. That course dips and rolls and accuracy and ball placement are required. Bring drivers for the big holes at Sundance.

The course is named in honor of a former partner in the resort, the late Dick Mooney, who often took friends skiing at his winter getaway in Sundance, Colorado, before he passed away in 2003.

“The name fits,” Brown said. “We’ve always been known for our location, the views. You can stand up near our clubhouse and see 12 holes on Sundance now.”

A new clubhouse will be constructed as part of a four-phase development for guests of the resort. The added golf came first.

“We want to maintain our niche as a medium-priced resort,” Brown said. Rates on the new course will be about $15 on average more than on the original course, falling in the $65 range.

The hardest thing to do at Sundance will be to pick a signature hole. Perhaps the 210-yard, par-3, 17th will suffice. It descends 80 feet with dramatic views to a green surrounded by trees. In the distance, sun dances off the water. For more information, log on to www.a-ga-ming.com or call 800-678-0122.


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