My Last Fall Golf Trip To Grand Rapids, Michigan?
For the past 12 years, I’ve made an annual trek to Grand Rapids, MI in October for a weekend of Golf with my son. Originally, the primary purpose of this October trip was for me to to meet with his teachers and discuss his school performance. With me living in Ohio, and he living in Michigan (with my ex-wife), it usually didn’t work out for me to attend the regularly scheduled parent-teacher conferences (though I’ve attended many such conferences via conference call). Since I was there, we usually took the opportunity to get in once last weekend of golf before the onset of winter.
I didn’t quite know just how much I looked forward to these golf trips than when I realized, as I was driving up to Grand Rapids, that this might well be our last Fall Golf Weekend. My son is a Senior in high school this year…a fact which is quite difficult to comprehend even as I type the words. Next year, he’ll be off to college – perhaps to Michigan State University, or one of the several others colleges he’s applied to and already been accepted. I’m optimistically hopeful that wherever settles on for college that our Fall Golf Weekend tradition will continue in some form or fashion – perhaps we’ll even get to play on the college campus course where he attends. But I may never again walk the courses my son “grew up” on in Grand Rapids. As you can imagine, I had a heavy heart while contemplating this reality on my drive to Grand Rapids.
Saturday morning we woke up to absolutely gorgeous weather. If you’ve never golfed in Michigan, you’re missing out – Michigan is often overlooked as a golf destination due to the lack of a consistent PGA Tour presence and a shortened golf season. However, Michigan actually lays claim to having more 5-star courses than any other state. When it comes to sheer beauty, Michigan golf courses are tough to beat in the Fall. I’ve been pretty blessed to have great weather over the years when I’ve come to Grand Rapids in October – I believe we’ve only had a couple of years where the weather prevented us from playing on the weekend we picked out for me to come up in October. But the good Lord surely made his face to shine upon us with blue skies and not too hot or cold temperatures for this finale weekend. We started at Indian Trails Golf Course – the course we’ve played most consistently over the years. It’s a “city” course that isn’t expensive, isn’t terribly difficult, and is just beautiful when the leaves are turning in October:
We walked off the course with a tied score card – my son played a great game. I’ve no doubt he’ll be a better golfer than myself – I never even tried to play the game until my late 20’s, while he’s been playing since he was old to walk. I can remember bringing him out to Indian Trails when he was so young I had to lift him up to use the ball washer – which he loved to do on almost every hole. I’ll admit to having tears in my eyes when we walked off the 18th hole Saturday, and I recalled all the great times my son and I have had playing the course, and thinking it might well be the last time I ever played the course.
Sunday morning we got up bright and early (much to my son’s displeasure) and went to church. Afterward, we left immediately to play Briarwood Golf Club. While we’ve consistently golfed at Indian Trails on Saturday, we usually mix things up a bit for Sunday’s round and play a different course. I want to think that we had played Briarwood before, but I couldn’t remember when…it had certainly been a while for me. The course is impressively challenging – particularly the East 9 where we started. Huge changes in elevation and lots of water and other natural boundaries. But also much beauty:
I waled off the 18th hole with a better score than my son, but neither of us had particularly good scores that day – which didn’t matter. It’s never really been about the game for us. It’s been about spending time together. As a divorced parent (remarried for seven years), I’ve not been able to spend nearly as much time with my son while he’s grown up as I would have liked. I’ve so cherished the times we’ve been able to spend together on the golf course – we’ve been fortunate to play at some incredible courses in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, California, and even Hawaii. I hope and pray that we have many, many more rounds after he graduates high school in the Spring. Who knows? Maybe we’ll find ourselves on a Grand Rapids golf course again. Maybe…just maybe I’ll be someday lifting up my grandson or granddaughter up to the ball washer at Indian Trails so they can wash their ball.
John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.