If you love casino gaming as much as you love golf, these resorts in the North are your summer go-to spots
By Sean Chaﬃn
As spring gives way to summer, some sunshine, golf tees and gambling can be a great combination to enjoy some time outdoors and at the casinos. Numerous properties around the country oﬀer some of the best golf courses and amenities for every level of golﬁng enthusiast.
There’s just nothing like testing your skills on a championship-level course or simply having a nice outing on the greens with friends and family. Add a few days at a casino for some great food and fun, and the experience might not get much better.
A weekend getaway at a resort is appealing for many and the more activities it provides, the better. Just think, a tee time in the morning, a spa treatment in the afternoon, dinner at an award-winning restaurant and then spinning those reels in the casino at night. What could be better than that? Here’s a look at some great courses at some of the best casino properties in the northern part of the country.
LAKE OF THE ISLES
Foxwoods Resort Casino (Mashantucket, CT)
Lush green countryside with brilliant greens and fairways—that’s just a little of what visitors to this amazing property can expect. The southeastern Connecticut scenery is perfectly on display at Lake of the Isles. Foxwoods is one of the Northeast’s top casino destinations with some of the best golﬁng in the area as well. This casino, resort and golf destination has it all—great gaming, an excellent course, and plenty of great dining and entertainment options.
Since its unveiling in 2005, Lake of the Isles regularly ranks as one of the country’s best. And when at Foxwoods, why play just 18? A 36- hole outing over a couple of days at the resort seems more in order. The property features two courses located on 900 acres around a 90-acre lake. The technically challenging 7,300-yard South Course oﬀers a test for golfers of every skill level and features multiple tee locations. The North Course also features a challenging 7,300-yard layout with rolling terrain, island greens and tees, and extraordinary views of the wooded countryside. Lake of the Isles includes a 50,000-square-foot rustic clubhouse, 300-person banquet hall, and a lakefront deck to relax and take in the peaceful atmosphere. www.LakeofIsles.com, www.Foxwoods.com
POHLCAT GOLF COURSE
Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort (Mount Pleasant, MI)
Michigan’s mild summers can make for a great golf getaway. Grab the bag and jump in the cart for a magniﬁcent experience on this par-72 course with picturesque views of the Wolverine State countryside. Since opening in 1992, PohlCat has become one of the top spots for golfers all over Michigan and the surrounding area. The course is located along the scenic 100-foot-wide Chippewa River and designed by former PGA Tour pro, and Mount Pleasant native, Dan Pohl.
PohlCat is described as “tough, but fair,” combining brilliant northern Michigan scenery with a links- style feel. The course also hosts a bar and grill as well as a fully stocked pro shop. The stay-and-play packages may be the best way to go for players. This oﬀers the chance to play 18 holes with a stay in the casino’s luxury hotel. Add a trip to the spa for even more of a relaxing getaway. The exquisite surroundings also make the property a great place to host an event. A trip to “the Cat” is always a perfect golﬁng trip. www.pohlcat.net, www.soaringeaglecasino.com
THE WILDERNESS AT FORTUNE BAY
Fortune Bay Resort Casino (Tower, MN)
The name may say it all when it comes to this great course. Grab the clubs and bask in the peace and serenity of beautiful Lake Vermilion. Designed by respected golf course architect Jeﬀrey D. Brauer, the property sits along the lake’s southern shore and features a marvelous landscape and some of the most scenic views of any golf resort in the Midwest. Golfers also enjoy the play from the tee box as well, regularly ranking the course as one of the best in Minnesota and the country. In 2020, Golfweek awarded The Wilderness as the second-best course in the state. The property also earned No. 7 in the country for best casino course.
Beyond driving and putting, players can also check out the driving range, restaurant and bar, marina and banquet facilities. The casino is also just a short trip away and complete golf packages are also available. Beyond the gaming action, plenty of outdoor opportunities abound on the lake and in the wilderness surrounding the property. Grab a ﬁshing pole or simply hang out with friends in front of the ﬁre pit. When it comes to Fortune Bay, anyone would be fortunate for a trip to this great vacation spot. www.golfthewilderness.com, www.fortunebay.com
ATUNYOTE AND SHENENDOAH
Turning Stone Resort Casino (Verona, NY)
For great weather and great golﬁng vibes, head to upstate New York this summer. This luxury resort knows how to treat casino players as well as golfers. The property has something for every level of golf enthusiast with ﬁve golf courses on site, three championship-level oﬀerings and two recreational options. Among these, the Atunyote and Shenendoah courses rate as top-notch. The Atunyote course is from legendary designer Tom Fazio and has hosted both the PGA Professional National Championship and the BC Open in 2006. Past champions include Tiger Woods, Matt Kuchar, Steve Flesch and Dustin Johnson. Expect a challenging outing at this professional-level venue. Atunyote (the Oneida word for “eagle”) oﬀers an unmatched setting with vast stretches of wide-open space with gently rolling hills and scenic water features such as small waterfalls and several lakes.
The award-winning Shenendoah also features 18 pristine holes of PGA-level golf in a picturesque setting. Rick Smith designed the venue, keeping the natural landscape in mind, complemented with a wooded parkland ambience. There are also open pastures for a links feel with more than 7,000 yards of professional tour-quality play. Golf Dome is another highlight at Turning Stone, featuring a two-tiered hitting area with 40 hitting stations. Players can use one of two virtual simulators with 38 diﬀerent courses including St. Andrews, Pebble Beach and Pinehurst. So players can have some competitive fun on the real course and work on their skills afterward. www.TurningStone.com/golf, www.TurningStone.com
SWEETGRASS GOLF COURSE
Island Resort & Casino (Harris, MI)
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula beckons each summer for those ready to tee it up. Step into real nature at Sweetgrass, mixed with magniﬁcent greens and fairways. This relaxing course is one of the most picturesque golﬁng destinations in the Midwest. And with 36 championship-level holes between the Sweetgrass and Sage Run courses, players have plenty of incentive to make it a whole golﬁng and gaming weekend. Sweetgrass features numerous challenges for players looking to ﬁne-tune their skills including challenging elevation, unique bunkering and diﬀering contours. Other features that make the course a natural wonder include waterfalls, thick forested areas, ponds and much more.
Beﬁtting the casino’s name, there is also an island hole. The 15th hole is the course’s par-3 signature hole. Take a swing and avoid the surrounding water to hopefully ﬁnd your ball on the island and in the center of the green. The 18-hole, 7,300-yard course features multiple tee-oﬀ areas for players of any skill level. Also of interest, each hole pays homage to Indian legend and highlights include beautifully crafted rockwork and cedar log creations throughout the course, a dramatic natural setting, and even the use of “rescued” historic road bridges. Grab the driver and get started. www.islandresortgolf.com, www.islandresortandcasino.com
THE MEADOWS AT MYSTIC LAKE
Mystic Lake Casino (Prior Lake, MN)
If Minnesota is the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes, then it’s certainly ﬁtting this property is located on a scenic lake oﬀering a truly mystical golﬁng experience. The award-winning public course features a challenging and scenic golf experience right on Mystic Lake, as the casino’s name implies. The Meadows brings players 7,144 yards on 160 acres, ﬁttingly with 13 holes on picturesque water features. That includes 20 fountains and a 2,500-foot cascading stream wandering through the middle of the golf course and featuring seven waterfalls.
Beyond the brilliant course, players have plenty of other options to check out on a golﬁng getaway. The experience includes nearby food, retail and entertainment venues, including The Meadows Bar and Grille, a complete golf shop and driving range. Players can also head to the casino for plenty of gaming fun as well or check out numerous other outdoor adventures. Head to Mystic Lake and The Meadows for a complete golﬁng and gambling experience. www.golfthemeadows.com, www.mysticlake.com
WILDHORSE RESORT & GOLF
Wild Horse Casino (Pendleton, OR)
The Paciﬁc Northwest can be a great escape for those seeking to be at one with nature but also some golf and gaming. This property brings players 18 holes among the rolling wheat ﬁelds backdropped by the gorgeous Blue Mountains. Bad tee shot? That may be frustrating, but who could be too angry in such beautiful surroundings? The course was the work of designer John Steidel and oﬀers a challenging experience for golfers of all skill levels that includes four sets of tees ranging from 4,996 to 7,112 yards. Wild Horse has been named one of America’s top casino golf courses by Golf Digest.
Golfers have taken notice and the Epson Tour’s “Road to the LPGA” heads to the course from Sept. 2–4 for the Wildhorse Ladies Golf Classic. The event brings in female golfers from around the U.S. and 30 diﬀerent countries. But you don’t have to be a pro to get in the action on the course. Wild Horse has numerous great specials, including an oﬀer to play nine holes during the week complete with a cart, burger and a beer for only $35—quite a golfer’s delight. www.wildhorseresort.com