ACME, Mich. -- The Golf Academy at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa turns "on" the "off" season for golf.
The Traverse City area gets its share of winter, and The Bear, The Wolverine and Spruce Run courses close down for a while under a white carpet of snow.
But golf remains a year-around activity at the resort's Golf Academy with a 2,000 square foot headquarters that transforms into the Winter Golf Center and features three heated, indoor-outdoor hitting bays equipped with mirrors and motion-capture technology for swing analysis.
Clinics, practice sessions, private lessons, club-fitting seminars, equipment demonstrations, hole-in-one and long drive contests and indoor league competition can stay in play all year on the GC2-powered Golf Simulator by Foresight Sports.
"The GC2 simulator is a great amenity to have," Scott Hebert, head PGA golf professional and director of instruction at the resort said. "It's not just a video game. It's a great simulator where you can work on almost every aspect of your game.
"Then, we open the doors. We like to say we're the only place in Northern Michigan where you can watch your golf ball fly in the winter. You can see if your shots hook or slice. Then we can make some changes with you. We can use video. It makes it a well-rounded Academy the year-around."
Instruction, practice sessions, corporate and group clinics, club fitting and competition continue in the comfort of the Academy. Hebert said Michigan golfers don't have to put the clubs away only to find in the spring or on that winter trip to a warm climate that they are starting over with the game.
"The feedback I get is that golfers don't want to start all over again," he said. "This way they can keep swinging, play nine holes on the simulator in about an hour, or play in one of our leagues and it really keeps the game sharp. Most people can't expect to pick up where they left off. It doesn't work that way."
Hebert, a six-time Michigan Open champion and the 2008 PGA Professional National champion fast building a reputation as one of Michigan's top instructors, thinks the winter is the best time for those lessons golfers have been thinking about taking.
"If you think about it, it's the best time of the year to make a swing change," he said. "You can make a lasting change. Do it in the winter. Work on it, and you don't have that pressure of the next match where you want to win and you slip back to what you were doing wrong in the first place."
Junior golf is important to Grand Traverse Resort and Spa because it helps build the golfers of the future, and Hebert said the Winter Golf Center should be an emphasis for parents who want their junior golfers to improve.
"In addition to improving even in the snow, the junior clinics we run get the kids involved in the game at the same time those juniors in southern states are playing. And what better place when kids in the winter are looking for something to do."
Groups who visit the resort have a bevy of on-property amenities to enjoy in the winter, including the Spa, indoor swimming and water activities, shopping, first-class dining, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Off-property activities nearby include Turtle Creek Casino, plus snowmobiling, and horse-drawn sleigh rides. The Academy keeps golf in the mix.
"A group can come in for a little team building, have a closest-to-the-pin contest or a long-drive contest on the simulator, have a little clinic or even a meeting in a different kind of atmosphere than a conference room," he said.
Hebert said golfers don't have to wait until winter has dragged on and the touring stars are playing on television live from Hawaii to get that itch to swing golf clubs.
"We have a lot of events here, and I see who the winners are and they are the same people who have come through the winter," he said. "They have a jump on everybody when the courses open."
For more information, call the Golf Academy at 231-534-6550 or toll free at 800-236-1577. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.grandtraverseresort.com.
J. Michael DeAgostino
Grand Traverse Resort and Spa
Resort & Golf Marketing