Boyne’s Heather Course Hosting Michigan Amateur

by | Jun 18, 2024 | News

The Heather Course at The Highlands is once again hosting the Michigan Amateur Championship presented by Carl’s Golfland this week (through June 21). This is the fifth time since 1998 that the state’s most prestigious golf championship will be held on the classic Robert Trent Jones Sr. layout at Boyne in Harbor Springs.

Defending champion August Meekhof of Eastmanville has turned professional, but 12 of last year’s “Sweet 16” return for the 113th edition of the state amateur championship. An added element to this year’s Michigan Amateur is the winner receiving an exemption into the 2024 U.S. Amateur Championship. The USGA recently added the winners of selected state championships to the exemptions lists for its national championships.

“We are very excited to once again be hosting the state’s premier amateur championship and showcasing one of the best golf courses in the country,” said Casey Powers, the director of golf for Boyne Golf. “The Heather has become one of the premier golf tests for the best players in Michigan and has produced memorable championships and great champions over the years.”

Opened in 1966 and Boyne Golf’s first nationally recognized golf course, The Heather, with its classic parkland design, narrow fairways, large greens, massive bunkering, and one of the most exciting finishing holes in golf, is certain to continue its tradition of producing great champions. This year will have tough acts to follow.

  • In 1998, Shawn Koch of Howell beat Stephen Polanski of Livonia 2 and 1 in the final match. Koch, who also won the GAM Championship that summer, went on to an award-winning PGA professional teaching career in Georgia. He is currently the director of instruction at The Atlanta Athletic Club.
  • In 2006, Greg Davies of West Bloomfield beat Ryan Brehm of Mount Pleasant 5 and 4 in the final match. Davies, GAM Senior Champion in 2023, is a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, was in the Sweet 16 a year ago and is back in the field this year at age 56. Brehm, the 2007 Amateur champion, currently plays on the PGA Tour.
  • In 2011, Willie Mack III of Flint beat defending champion Joey Garber of Petoskey 4 and 3 in the final match. Mack III played on the PGA’s Korn Ferry Tour in 2023, as did Garber, who has also played on the PGA Tour in recent years. Mack also played in the recent U.S. Open Championship.
  • In 2020, Tyler Copp of Ann Arbor beat James Piot of Canton 2 and 1 in the final match. Copp has since turned professional and is playing mini-tour golf around the country. Piot, a two-time GAM Champion, went on to win the U.S. Amateur championship in 2021 and played on the LIV tour in 2022 and 2023.

“It seems like the best players from our tournaments on The Heather have all gone on to do something more at another level,” said Ken Hartmann, senior director of competitions and USGA services for the Golf Association of Michigan, which annually administers the state championship. “I think it shows that over the week of a championship with the best players, the Heather proves who has the all-around game.”

Named the 2018 Michigan Golf Course of the Year by the Michigan Golf Course Association and the 2019 National Course of the Year by the National Golf Course Owners Association, The Heather has launched the resort golf industry in northern Michigan. Boyne’s founder and Michigan Golf Hall of Famer, the late Everett Kircher, in large part to keep his ski resort employees around and working during the snowless summer months, decided to get into the golf business. He sought out Jones, the most popular and successful architect of that era, and commissioned him to design The Heather. The course is consistently ranked among the best golf courses in Michigan.

Here’s a close look at Boyne Resort:

The Inn at Bay Harbor and Bay Harbor Golf Club, Boyne’s flagship properties, feature 45-holes including three golf course combinations designed by Arthur Hills (Links/Quarry, Quarry/Preserve, and Preserve/Links), and the scenic Crooked Tree Golf Club, with one of the most beautiful and iconic hotels in America, all set along a scenic five-mile stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline.

The Highlands at Harbor Springs, rated the No. 1 Golf Resort for Value by, features 72 holes of premier golf design. The Heather, the 2019 NGCOA Course of the Year, was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., while the Hills Course was crafted by Arthur Hills. In addition, the resort features The Donald Ross Memorial, a rendition of the legendary architect’s great holes from around the country, and the always-fun Moor course. The Highland at Harbor Springs is the perfect buddy trip destination for golfers who like to play as many holes as they can during the long summer daylight hours that northern Michigan features.

Boyne Mountain not only features two fun 18-hole courses (The Monument and Alpine) and the charming Mountain Grand Lodge & Spa, but it is also the leading family-friendly golf destination in the region, with the Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark, junior golf camps, and various kid golf programs. Golf Digest named Boyne Mountain one of its “Top-10 Destinations for Family Golf Trips.”

Photo: The Heather Course at Boyne (Boyne Golf)

Golf Association of Michigan


About the Author

<a href="" target="_self">Steve Pike</a>

Steve Pike

Steve “Spike” Pike is a lifelong journalist whose career covers Major League Baseball, the NFL, and college basketball. For the past 26 years, Spike has been one of the more respected voices in the golf and travel industries, working for such publications as Golfweek, Golf World, and Golf Digest for The New York Times Magazine Group. In 1998, Spike helped launch the website for the PGA of America. As a freelance travel and golf writer, Spike’s travels have taken him around the world. He has played golf from Pebble Beach to St. Andrews, walked the Great Wall of China, climbed an active volcano in the Canary Islands, been on safari in South Africa, and dived with sharks off Guadalupe, Baja California.