For more than a year, planners have been putting away at an idea to revive a former Grand Traverse County golf course.
The High Pointe Golf Course in Acme opened in 1989 and closed back in 2009. But now a new owner is bringing a familiar name to the club to help them revitalize it.
The new owner is Rod Trump. Along with the original architect they’re teeing up the idea. Now, they’re ready to take a swing at it.
“In the summer, 2021, I spent 8 to 10 weeks in northern Michigan and absolutely fell in love with the area,” Trump says.
Trump is setting his sights on a spot that’s very familiar to golfers in Northern Michigan. “You know, I heard guys talk about it, but I never played it. And they said, ‘well, you can’t play it. It was Doak’s first course. It closed more than a decade ago.’ But I heard he was on a podcast just wanting to bring it back.”
Architect Tom Doak designed the course that opened in 1989. He now lives in Traverse City, and he’s on the team to bring it back again 13 years after it hit the rough.
“For Tom, it’s an immensely personal project. Not only is the course there in the town where he resides, but it’s the first golf course he ever designed,” Trump says. “And he said to me, ‘Never does a golf architect get to redo their own work, much less their first work.’”
Consultant Scott Jozwiak agrees. “It’s full of emotion. I mean, (Tom’s) been a local since the mid 80’s and loves it here. And he finally gets to do (another) pretty major project in his hometown. So we’re all thrilled about that and glad for him.” Trump adds. “He is super passionate about it. We’re partners in this. So he’s fully vested, fully engaged, as am I. And I have no doubt that the finished product will be anything less than spectacular.” The course in its heyday named to several Top 10, Top 75, and Top 100 lists.
On essentially the same site, some of High Pointe was taken over for a new venture. But some of the original course remains.
Trump says, “the front nine was completely bulldozed when the land was acquired for the purposes of being a hop farm. But the back nine remains largely untouched. And holes 10 through 15 really- in the golf architecture world, have a cult-like following. The golf course, High Pointe has a cult like following, but there’s specific attention paid to holes 10 through 15. A gentlemen by , who’s the architectural editor for Golf magazine, says to this day, holes 10 through 15 at High Point may be the best six holes Tom’s ever routed. I mean we’re super excited that we are bringing back those six holes specifically.”
Jozwiak adds, “to do one in this area, and to do one with this much acclaim is been a fantastic endeavor for me.”
They’ll redesign and add 12 new holes on the adjacent property. “It’ll be 12 brand new holes that candidly, the land that we’re using for the new holes is more compatible with the land of the original back nine. And it’s just all sandy soil, gentle rolling hills. The land has a natural tumble. It’s absolutely perfect for great golf,” Trump says.
“When we were given the opportunity to, to rework those existing holes, and really Tom isn’t really going to touch them too much, it made the process a lot more fluid because we were able to kind of move to the finish line pretty rapidly,” Jozwiak says. “The idea is to start moving earth on the golf holes, which is minimal actually, this spring. So we’ll be working towards getting those final approvals with Whitewater Township and getting our permits in place. And then in the subsequent months we’ll be working towards the final site plan review with clubhouse and the practice facilities.”
Jozwiak says for Doak and Trump, “golf is first in this project. All the other items, the clubhouse and all that stuff is completely secondary. So it’s truly about the golf and this and this and this project.” And there’s big passion for this big project. “At 300 acres, you know, it’s a pretty big tract of land to work through the approval.”
The design for the course actually covers property in two townships. They say they already have one Ace in the Hole: Acme has already approved it. They’ll go before Whitewater Township in the coming months. They say they’ve already received a warm reception there.
“When we when we went to the township meetings, the townships have been fantastic and receptive and we’ve been able to put forth our best foot with them with respect to environmental (concerns). But at the townships we had great turnout. The most positive reactions from the public and some influential people in the public were actually giving us some information that we needed to make the project even better,” Jozwiak says. “With Acme Township, we’re through the approval process, a couple of button up items to do with them administratively. Whitewater Township, we’ve been in. We received some preliminary review and acceptance of the project. So we feel we’re able to move forward with more of the design and the clubhouses and practice facilities. And start to move that process along with a lot more emphasis on the golf at this moment.”
Trump says, “we plan to break ground as soon as weather permits in the spring. And we realize in northern Michigan that could be a moving target. But because it’s such a personal project for Tom, he has a number of folks that are just beating down the door to be a part of the team. So manpower is not an issue. We’ll be ready to go as soon as the weather breaks.” And he adds, “Our plan is to have balls in the air summer of 2024.” The new High Pointe will be a private golf club with membership offerings.
To view Doak’s course designs and see his comments on the original High Pointe, .