Island Hills Golf Club Retains Resort & Golf Marketing

Island Hills Golf ClubCENTREVILLE, MI - When Bob Griffioen and his wife JoJo purchased the Island Hills Golf Club nearly two years ago, their plan for the 220-acre facility was to make it one of the state’s finest golf experiences with superior amenities and service for players as well as non-golfing visitors.

With a complete makeover of the 7,078-yard course, and the establishment of daily four-star dining at The Grille Tavern, the Griffioens are now ready to invite everyone to see their polished gem, perched on the shores of the pristine 1,000-acre Lake Templene.

To spread the word the couple hired Dave Richards and his Resort & Golf Marking firm to represent Island Hills with the media and golf industry.

For 26 years the boutique Bloomfield Hills consulting firm has been one of the nation’s most influential experts in the industry, specializing in golf course development, public relations, marketing, and award-winning golf and lifestyle photography.

The company has had long-term relationships with the largest resorts in Michigan including Boyne, Crystal Mountain, Treetops, Garland, Shanty Creek, and Grand Traverse Resorts. It also represents the Resorts at Tullymore & St. Ives, the Bay Harbor Golf Club and top-end stand-alone properties Forest Dunes, Shepherd’s Hollow, and Belvedere golf clubs... During that time Richards’ group earned accolades for making Michigan one of the nation’s top golf destinations.

Richards said taking on Island Hills is especially exciting because he served in a similar capacity before, publicizing the work of architect Raymond Hearn when the course opened in 1999. Since the Griffioens purchased the course, Hearn has been at work modernizing and improving his original layout.

“From what I’ve learned so far, the Griffioens settle only for the best in everything they do, and working for clients with lofty goals like that makes my job that much easier,” Richards said.

The approach the Griffioens brought to Island Hills is the one that made their company, Precision Speed Equipment Inc. of Sturgis, the world’s finest manufacturer of direct spark igniters and manifolds for gas appliances. The company also supplies flame sensors, pilot burner assemblies, ignition cables, customized hot surface igniters.

“Island Hills already had some of the best features in golf with the lake, the woods, and Ray’s design,” Bob Griffioen said. “We wanted to improve on that and bring our public club up to the standard of service and amenities of a top country club.”

Among the new amenities are docks near the restaurant for boaters to cruise in for dinner or lunch off Lake Templene, and important touches like bottled water, a cooler of ice, and towels on all carts.

Hearn’s return to Island Hills came with a monumental challenge. The Griffioens purchased 17 holes of the course as the original owner kept one of the two par three holes that played directly on Lake Templene.

Not only did Hearn have to renovate the course to accommodate today’s game, he had to design and build a replacement hole equal or better than the lost one that had a 1,000 acre lake as a backdrop.

Fortunately, he spotted a site for the new par-three hole hiding in the woods near the entrance to the complex.

“We found this old crumbling farm ruins dating back to the early 1900’s and one of the early landowners,” Hearn said. “You see these kinds of neat old ruins over in Scotland and Ireland. We cleared the trees away, uncovered it, and I integrated the Par 3 into the ruins. I’m pretty proud of it and it’s been pretty well received. People like it.”

In his makeover, Hearn recalibrated the risk-reward scenario’s he designed a decade ago, taking into account today’s players using better equipment to hit the ball further.

“We’ve repositioned some of the bunkers and tees to make them more strategic but still friendly for players,” Hearn said.

Revisiting his old design 10 years later gave Hearn a chance to implement new strategies for holes that he did not see earlier.

Another dramatic change was shaving the 47 acres of fairway down to 35 acres. Not only did the tighter fairways firm up course strategy, they significantly reduce maintenance costs. 

“Island Hills opened in 1999 on a very grand scale during a roaring golf boom when bigger was better,” Hearn said. “I still wanted to keep some of that with the redesign and repositioning of bunkers and tees, but with different angles and avenues to play the holes.”

Lengthening a course and moving tees to account for longer hitting players is fairly routine for architects.

“But to do the nip and tuck on the design to make it more affordable, less costly to maintain, that’s challenging,” he said. “It’s a hell of lot of fun but you really have to put on your thinking cap and that’s what we did at Island Hills.

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P.S. Save the date, Monday August 29th. Details to follow.


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