Golf courses on Mackinac Island

There are 15,000 golf courses in the United States. Yet, only one involves a scenic mile-and-a-half, horse-drawn carriage ride between nines. And only one is laid out on a battlefield where American soldiers died in a failed attempt to wrest control of the Great Lakes from the British.

Both of those courses are on Mackinac Island, which is smaller than four square-miles yet boasts two iconic, one-of-a-kind golf courses.

A flag and putting green at Mackinac Island’s Wawashkamo Golf Club with tall heather and trees in the background

Mackinac Island’s Wawashkamo Golf Club

Wawashkamo Golf Club, known on the island as “Wawa,” sits where the Battle of Mackinac was fought during the War of 1812. The course has a cannon on the first tee near where the British had their cannons, and there’s an actual burial ground for American soldiers near the 6th green.

Wawa is one of “America’s Historic Golf Landmarks” both because of the battle and because it represents 19th-century links-style golf. The course was built in 1898 and designed by two-time U.S. Open champion Alex Smith, a Scotsman who laid out the holes in the island’s interior with few trees, no water hazards, relatively short length, small greens and very deep rough. Each of the nine holes has a unique design feature, like the “circus ring” of tall fescue grass that encircles the 3rd green, and each has two tee boxes so you can play the course twice and experience 18 different holes.

As the oldest continuously-operating golf facility in Michigan, Wawa still looks a lot like it did in 1898 – which makes sense because little has changed at the course since then. It’s a perfect fit for an island that already feels like you’re stepping back in time.

RELATED: Wawashkamo red Oak witnessed 1814 battle on Mackinac Island

A pond lined with large rocks guards one side of a green on The Jewel Golf Course at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

The Jewel Golf Course on Mackinac Island

The Jewel Golf Course at the Grand Hotel also dates back nearly as long, but today the original 9-hole course near town has been complemented by nine newer holes a mile-and-a-half away in the interior of Mackinac Island. While the shorter Grand nine near the hotel features incredible views of the Straits of Mackinac and beautifully manicured tees, fairways and greens, the newer Woods nine offers stunning views of the Mackinac Bridge and the Upper Peninsula with a more modern golf design.

When you’re playing all 18 holes, you get from the Grand nine to the Woods nine by taking a leisurely 15-minute, horse-drawn carriage ride that gives you sights of the island most visitors never see – and an experience that few golfers get to enjoy.

RELATED: 7 sights to see on a full horse-drawn carriage tour of Mackinac Island

A view from the bottom of the cup of a young boy holding a golf ball on the Greens of Mackinac putting course at Mackinac Island's Mission Point Resort

Miniature Golf and Putt-Putt on Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island is home to two extraordinary miniature golf courses. The Greens of Mackinac features 18 natural-grass putting greens right along the water at Mission Point Resort with a laid back atmosphere where you can carry a beverage with you during your round. The course also offers glow-in-the-dark balls for playing after dark.

On the other side of Mackinac Island, the Woodlands Activity Center at Grand Hotel is home to The Gem miniature golf course – a traditional putt-putt that routes seamlessly through the woods on the resort grounds.

RELATED: Other things to do at the Woodlands Activity Center on Mackinac Island

Golf carts on Mackinac Island

One of the defining characteristics of Mackinac Island is that it’s car-free. It’s been that way for more than 125 years! But here’s good news for golfers: Golf carts are allowed on The Jewel and at Wawashkamo!



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