Although it may be overlooked in national rankings, Gaylord is one of this country’s golf meccas.

The Gaylord area boasts an inviting landscape for golf. With beautiful pine and birch trees lining their unique undulation and many clear-blue ponds and lakes, Gaylord offers avid golfers a little bit of everything.

I am an avid golfer. Although I don’t get out as much as I used to while competing throughout my college years, golf has always been an important part of my life.

This story is the final edition of my ongoing weekly Gaylord-area golf rankings. Last week, Treetops Resort’s Masterpiece came in at No. 2. My top-10 list is now complete, but there are still plenty of other opportunities to play fantastic golf courses throughout the area.

Golf is truly back up and running in the state of Michigan, giving people the opportunity to get outside after three months of quarantine due to COVID-19. However, cases have begun to resurge throughout the country, so safety measures must still be taken while in public.

With so many intriguing and exciting courses to play, this list might help narrow down some options for those looking to play a few rounds this summer.

Here is my No. 1 golf course in the Gaylord area:

1. Otsego Club: The Tribute

The Tribute course at Otsego Club is not only one of the elite golf courses in Northern Michigan, it’s one of the state’s gems, overall. 

Topping out at over 7,300 yards, The Tribute course, has the length, splendor and teeth to potentially challenge the world’s best players. With drastic elevation changes, rolling fairways, plenty of heather and some strategic water and marshy areas, The Tribute is the perfect mixture of difficulty and beauty.

The Tribute starts with three straight par 4s, all of them presenting reasonable birdie opportunities, as the course gives golfers a mild start to set them up for the difficulty that awaits. Always in sublime shape with excellent, quick greens and short-cut fairways, The Tribute offers golf enthusiasts a taste of what the professionals experience on a weekly basis.

Uniquely blending a mixture of tree-lined holes and links-style holes, The Tribute is reminiscent of a crescendo in a musical score. The enthusiasm and momentum keeps building throughout the round. It’s the type of golf course that could cause audible gasps of wonder as players step up to their next tee box.

Like many great golf courses in the Gaylord area, The Tribute is part of a resort. Otsego Club also hosts The Classic, a more subdued, but still enjoyable golf experience. Competing against the likes of Treetops and even the rising Loon trilogy of golf courses can certainly be tough, but The Tribute has quickly made a name for itself as a must-play for any golf enthusiast. 

One of the most captivating aspects of The Tribute is its design. Almost every tee box on the course starts golfers high in the clouds, sometimes drastically bringing them back closer to sea level. The stark elevation gives the course its splendid views, and also helped it get recognized as the eighth-best Public Golf Course in Michigan by Michigan Golf Magazine.

Even from the black tees (furthest back of the golf courses five sets of tee boxes), The Tribute has a very playable 134 slope rating.

Although The Tribute has a number of “signature holes”, the par-5 seventh hole offers all the variables of a memorable hole. For starters, its 607 yards from the black tees, an intimidating number for even the longest hitters. It winds its way through the hills and trees with a small pond and green-side bunkers guarding the left side of a large green.

The Tribute sometimes offers spectacular beauty, but other times subtle beauty. And there is always a chance to see some wildlife when playing Northern Michigan golf courses. Those coming up for a summer visit should certainly check out this beautiful course, and locals should make sure to add it to their list of must plays as well.

Here is a recap of my list:

7. Loon Resort: The Lakes

5. Treetops Resort: Tradition

4. Treetops Resort: Premier

3. Treetops Resort: Signature

2. Treetops Resort: Masterpiece

1. Otsego Club: The Tribute

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