18 hole, Par 72
(231) 537-4955
Mackinaw City, MI     Carp Lake, MI

History of Golf in Mackinaw City


Help us collect information, stories, anecdotes, photos, etc. about Mackinaw's golfing history as wells as the history of the land at the current location of the Mackinaw Club. We've collected a few images, but would love to see more. Send us any historical proof by e-mailing us at info@mackinawclub.com.

History of the Mackinaw Club Golf Course

The Mackinaw Club's past and the history of the land where it's located has so far been traced back to the turn of the century. The land was used in many ways over the years before the Carter family and Jerry Mathews built what is now the Mackinaw Club Golf Course.

Image of an apple tree.

Old apple trees mark where a turn-of-the-century family farm was once located.

Image of a professional man.

Mackinaw Club Architect Jerry Matthews also designed The Lakes Course at Michaywé, Gaylord, MI, the Timber Ridge Golf Course in East Lansing, MI, the Elk Ridge Golf Course in Atlanta, MI, the St. Ives Golf Club in Stanwood, MI, the Timberstone Golf Course in Iron Mountain, MI, and the Bucks Run Golf Club in Mt. Peasant, MI.

Image of Richard and Rose Rogala and family when they first established Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping in 1964. Their four sons now operate the camp and the Mackinaw Club. The popular campground is celebrating its 50 year anniversary.

Richard and Rose Rogala established Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping in 1964. Their four sons now operate the camp and the Mackinaw Club. The popular campground is celebrating its 50 year anniversary.

The earliest use of the property that we know of was first as a turn of the century family farm (where an apple orchard still lines the #4 fairway). In the 1940’s the land was used as an emergency landing strip for B-25's. The B-25's were using one of the islands in Lake Huron for bombing runs in W.W. II. Mackinaw City operated a small airport on the site that in the 1970’s became the community's snowmobile club. As a snowmobile club the site eventually hosted popular races. Most recently, just before it was discovered by the golf course's builders, Mary, Jim and Dick Carter, it hosted a kite festival. The Carters had built golf courses with many of the best known golf architects for years (having worked with architects Jerry Matthews, Bruce Matthews and Ron Otto on courses that include The Emerald, The Pohlcat, St. Ives, Michawye, The Jewel, Timber Ridge, Railside, Wallinwood, Lake View Hills, Birchwood, Treetops, Hill's Heart of the Lakes and Eagle Glen). Having reached its 10 year anniversary in 2007, the course is now operated by Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping, which has been rated by the Detroit News as one of the top family friendly campgrounds in Michigan. Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping brings to The Mackinaw Club its reputation for attention to grounds operations and superb value for its customers.

Image of a B-25 Bombers during World War II. The Mackinaw Club's location was once used as a landing strip during the war.

The Mackinaw Club was a landing strip for B-25 Bombers during World War II.

Image of snowmobiles.

The Mackinaw Club was once the site of Mackinaw City’s snowmobile club, which hosted popular annual races.

Image of the groundbreaking for a snowmobile race track at the Mackinaw City Snowmobile Club. Ford Martin is shoveling.

Groundbreaking for a snowmobile race track at the Mackinaw City Snowmobile Club. Ford Martin is shoveling. From left to right: Paul Desy, Mike Wagner, Jim Pallagi, JC Stilwell, Ray Desy, Pat Desy, Don Bell, Lloyd Desy and Bill Gray.

Image of kids flying kites.

Before it was a golf course the Mackinaw Club hosted a kite festival in Mackinaw City.

Article from Michigan Golfer Magazine

The following is an excerpt from the June 1997 issue of Michigan Golfer Magazine by author Art McCafferty titled, "The Mackinaw Club," an article describing the history and opening of The Mackinaw Club Golf Course.

The Mackinaw Club, a new course located on the outskirts of Mackinaw City, is but one of a number of projects that is transferring this area known more as a destination launching point than a destination. For years, people have been going to Mackinaw City to get to the Upper Peninsula, Canada, Mackinac Island or get their first hit of up north fudge. But, according to Brad Jones of the Mackinaw City CVB, this is all about to change. The city, which now has 3000 rooms in its 45 lodging properties and a newness to its streets and sidewalks, will be the envy of the state as it launches its first golf course The Carters began their quest for some as a Disney-ish type of development, the 40 million dollar Courtyards.

These collective projects will knock Michiganders' collective socks off this year. But... hold that thought. We will bring all of this news to you in our July issue of the Michigan Golfer that will focus on golf in the Mackinaw City, Mackinac Island, Sault Ste. Mane and Drummond Island areas.

The Mackinaw Club has tremendous blood lines. Jim and Dick Carter, Mackinaw Club owners, have been building golf courses for some of the best known golf architects for years. They have worked with golf architects Jerry Matthews, Bruce Matthews and Ron Otto on a variety of courses. The Emerald, The Pohlcat, St. Ives, Michawye, The Jewel, Timber Ridge, Railside, Wallinwood, Lake View Hills, Birchwood, Treetops, Hill's Heart of the Lakes and Eagle Glen to name but a few.

It was Jerry Matthews who suggested that a course was sorely needed in Mackinaw City. He envisioned a golf tournament that would include courses on Mackinac Island, in St. Ignace and Mackinaw City. With the addition of the Mackinaw Club, we are two thirds of the way there.

The Carters began their quest for some land a number of years ago, but were unsuccessful. The biggest landowner in the area is the State of Michigan and they did not have any on the docket at the time. However, on a drive one day, Mary Carter asked about a piece of land that had served a number of purposes over the years.

The land owned by the city used to be an emergency landing strip for B-25's that were using one of the islands in lake Huron for bombing runs in W.W. 11. It later provided the site for a snowmobile race and most recently hosted a kite festival. The city owned the land and was interested in the project. They gave final approval for the land buy on January 15, 1996. On January 16, Dick and Jim were out digging their irrigation pond in 20 degree below zero weather. Their early start enabled them to get the course ready for early seeding and enough of a grow period for some play on the front nine this past fall. They will open the front nine on May 23 and the Grand Opening for the entire course will be held on June 21.

Golfers will find this Jerry Matthews' course designed for playability and fast rounds. There is but one bunker on the course and only a few wetlands to negotiate 25 foot drop on the entire course. Oh yes, there is one other hazard, the wind. The climate can change pretty fast in the north by the big lakes, so customers might want to order a sweatshirt with their order of hot dogs and beer at the turn.

Mary Carter will be the on-site management for the course and Jack Carter, Dick's son, will be superintendent. James "JP" Pauling will be the managing pro. They are all excited about the opportunity to have their own course in the family and will try their best to bring golfers affordable and challenging golf and whole lots of fun. Speaking of lots, there will be a number of home sites available on property starting around 40K.

This is the year you drive up to Mackinaw City and make that your destination. You can play the new Mackinaw Club course and then wander through the new Courtyards in Mackinaw City.

Image of cover for June 1997 issue of Michigan Golfer Magazine.Image of article from June 1997 issue of Michigan Golfer Magazine, written by Art McCafferty.


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