Putting Practical in Practice
For golfers who can hit pure shots like Tiger Woods on the practice tee, but become hackers when they tee the ball up on a golf course, Mark Hill might have just the cure for your game.Norman Sinclair Photography by Nile Young and Brian Walters (inset)
Instead of spending hours with players pounding balls on a practice range trying to find that elusive stroke, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa’s veteran PGA head professional and lead instructor, along with his staff, PGA professionals Randy Ernst and Shane Hollandsworth, offer on-course lessons to work with students under real playing conditions.
“When you are on the range and you have a one-on-one and someone’s staring at you hitting golf balls, it’s real easy to get frustrated and tighten up,” Hill says. “Out on the course, they seem to be more relaxed and enjoy it more instead of hitting ball after ball on the range.”
Drawing on his more than 30 years as a golf instructor, mostly in northern Michigan, Hill says golf lessons taught on the practice range don’t necessarily transfer to the course.
“We can create so many shots out on the golf course,” he says. “Try to hit a knockdown shot beneath a tree, hitting shots out of a bunker, or hitting side-hill lies. On the range, you can’t do that.”
Taking it to the Course
Hill had been a Resort golf instructor for four years when he was promoted to the top job in 2015 after his predecessor, Scott Hebert, left. That’s when Hill instituted the on-course lesson option.
Longtime Resort golf member Dale Dorgan, who lives in nearby Elk Rapids, has been taking golf lessons for years. Dorgan was Hill’s first on-course student.
“I frankly think that is the only way to go,” Dorgan says. “You can hit shots on a flat surface and do pretty well, but you get more out of it when you go out there and hit a shot from side-hill lie.”
Brian Walsh, a Michigan transplant to Texas, says on-course instruction has been invaluable for his game and that of his teen son.
“When you are on the course, you see real-life playing situations,” Walsh says.
Besides The Bear, the Resort’s other two courses — The Wolverine and Spruce Run — help ensure that there is always room for Hill and his instructors to find a hole or two for practice sessions.
Keeping it Simple
Hill keeps instruction simple on the course. “I like to key in one swing thought with my students and we work on that,” he says. “When we get that accomplished, we move on.”
On-course lessons range from an hour to playing nine holes with an instructor.
“There is definitely a time for hitting balls on the range and working on a few things,” Hill says. “But we’ve had such positive feedback from everybody we’ve taken out on the golf course about how much more they got out of it.”
Turn competing in a race or triathlon into a vacation by staying at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa and enjoying all the amenities and attractions the Resort and the area have to offer.By Cortney Casey Photography by Nile Young
Jumping out of bed before dawn, gearing up, and heading out to run 3.1-26.2 miles probably doesn’t sound much like a vacation.But for diehard runners and other sports competitors, “racecations” are a top choice for an exhilarating trip.
The effort that goes into prepping for a racecation makes the reward that much sweeter for Bethany Marks-Cieslak.
“When I can go on vacation and run a race, it gives me something to train for and prepare for,” says the Lake Orion, Mich., resident. “I also know I will not spend my vacation doing nothing. I feel a sense of accomplishment after the run, but then get to enjoy time with my friends and family post-race.”
Paul Kozlowski of Huntington Woods feels far more motivated during racecations than at home.
“Racing closer to home can be so tedious, since you often have to roll out of your own bed at 4-4:30 a.m. and get on the road,” he says. “For me, it is so much more difficult to get out of my own bed than a hotel bed.
”Krystal Tosch, a runner from Waterford, Mich., also appreciates new scenery on her runs.
“Running races close to home sometimes is monotonous, especially if you run the area frequently,” she says. “I love running in new areas, and it’s a great opportunity to take a weekend and travel with family or friends.”
Kathy Scherrer of Macomb Township, Mich., appreciates seeing new courses, people, and scenery. “I like the balance between being active and still relaxing,” she adds.
The Traverse City area has solid racecation potential, with options ranging from the Bayshore Marathon and Half-Marathon on the Old Mission Peninsula to winery-themed fare like the Harvest Stompede and Vineyard to Bay 25K on the Leelanau Peninsula.
For athletes who prefer wheels, there are plenty of bike races, including the 45 North Barrel Roll at 45 North Vineyard & Winery, The Iceman Cometh, The Short’s Fatbike Series, and Mud, Sweat & Beers.
Various triathlons bring swimming into the mix. The M22 Challenge adds paddling to the running/biking equation. Winter brings perennially favorite ski races including the North American VASA and White Pine Stampede.
Kozlowski has participated in myriad northern Michigan races, including the Bayshore Marathon, Charlevoix Marathon, Traverse City Triathlon, Sleeping Bear Dunes Half Marathon, and Michigan Mountain Mayhem.
“You simply cannot beat the scenery of the Traverse City Triathlon, taking place entirely on Old Mission (Peninsula),” he says. “Michigan Mountain Mayhem is always a blast, since there are 20-30 members of my triathlon club, Infinite Multisport, participating every year.”
Marks-Cieslak is a fan of the Bayshore Half-Marathon, recalling the crisp May morning air at the start, crowd support, and the beautiful views all along the way.
“No one takes it for granted,” she says, “and (everyone) is just so happy to be there.”
Spa Grand Traverse- Always in Season
Special packages offer the best of summer and winter.By Cymbre Foster
You can have the most amazing spa with the best amenities in the world, but it takes the right staff to create a truly memorable experience.
For a decade, Spa Grand Traverse Director Dawn Olsen has been overseeing the facility’s myriad services and “outstanding staff.” The collective mission is for guests to feel welcome and taken care of — like family.
“For us, the biggest factor is guest satisfaction,” Olsen says. “To that end, we have the most down-to-earth and nicest staff you would ever want to meet”
Light and refreshing scents are incorporated in summer packages to guarantee that guests leave feeling relaxed, refreshed, and renewed.
Last summer, that meant bergamot. The refreshing, almost citrusy, scent was incorporated into a variety of treatments, from facials to massages.
One of Olsen’s favorite packages is Summer Beauty, four-and-a-half hours of pure pampering that in-cludes a full set of NovaLash eye-lash extensions, shampoo/blow dry, makeup, and an express manicure — at a savings of $50.
Many packages include a sea-sonal cocktail, too — at any time of the year.
“Winter means a lot of body wraps, hot stones — anything that is more warming,” Olsen says. “We’ve used a lot of peppermint as well as tea tree and lavender oils.”
A manicure or pedicure will include a hot neck wrap infused with lavender oil. Shea, cocoa, and mango butters soften and soothe dry skin.
The Indulgent Escape Sweet Serenity package is four hours of pure indulgence including a Winter Warm-up Wrap, a cinnamon-infused wrap followed by a soothing cinnamon massage with antioxidant-rich olive, fruit, and grapeseed oils; Milk and Honey Warming Facial; and a Chocolate Meltdown Manicure/Pedicure Combo.
Regular spa-goer Dana Matson can attest to that.
“There’s like a sisterhood there,” says Matson, who makes monthly Spa visits to receive services that might include massages, facials, manicures, and pedicures. “They not only care about each other, but their clients as well.”
She and a girlfriend recently spent a day at the spa together and left feeling pampered and relaxed. Matson also purchased services for her parents as a Christmas gift.
“My dad loved his pedicure, and they both raved about the service,” she says. The spa uses natural products that focus on de-stressing, detoxifying, and rebalancing body, mind, and spirit.
Many guests like services to be bundled into cost-saving packages that pamper them from head to toe. In addition to standard options, Olsen has created offerings that change with the seasons.