Everett Kircher was the visionary founder and CEO of Boyne Resorts. He wrote about Boyne Mountain Resort’s rapid growth in 1961 Sports Illustrated.
Kircher stated that we are big because of how big we think.
The story was titled “Mountain Out of a Molehill”, a reference to Kircher’s transformation of a Northern Michigan hill with 500 foot vertical drop into a ski resort. It also includes lodging, bars, restaurants, bars and a skating rink. Legend has it that Kircher purchased the 40 acres of Boyne Mountain’s initial 40 acres from a farmer who refused to plant the land. Kircher was open to the idea, and generously offered $1 for the land. Then he began building his resort. Kircher was always big-thinking.
Warren Miller, a friend of Kircher and well-known for his ski films, stated that Everett was from a generation that thinks different upon hearing about Kircher’s death in 2002.
SI published that story in 1961. Kircher had already built his first nine-hole golf course to make his Northern Michigan resort a year-round destination. He recruited Robert Trent Jones Sr. to help him build The Heather. It opened in 1966 at his second resort at Harbor Springs, The Highlands. He wasn’t only creating more reasons for guests to come back, but also summer jobs for his workers. He had ignited a boom in golf construction that transformed the Northern Michigan landscape.
The region is now known as America’s Summer Golf Capital. This is a nod to Kircher’s children, who inherited his go-for-broke style and the choices made by the developers. The perfect summer golf destination is Northern Michigan. Enjoy 80 degree sunny days and courses designed by top architects. You can find courses from the shores to Lake Michigan, as well as hillside views at places like Boyne Mountain or The Highlands, which look like something from the Berkshires, Rockies, or even the Rockies.
BOYNE Golf lies at the heart of the region’s regional golf scene with its three resorts, and 10 courses (including three configurations at 27-hole Bay Harbor Golf Club span Data-preserver-spaces=”true “>).). The Heather is still the anchor of the resorts. It was named the National Golf Course Owners Association’s 2019 Course of the year. The Heather was a model for all of Boyne’s courses. Jones objected to Kircher’s insistent on a lake in front the 18th green, as he needed it for winter-snowmaking. (To this day, Kircher’s original local rule is still engraved on a teeside bench: “Tee shot into lake – no drop.”) Now, every 18th hole at Boyne, except for Crooked Tree Golf Club which Boyne bought, is fronted with a water hazards.
Boyne’s most photographed golf course is the lakeside Bay Harbor Golf Club. It’s a great example of the Kirchers vision and opportunistic approach. Stephen Kircher, Everett’s son, was looking into the purchase of the Ramona Park Hotel, Harbor Springs, when a developer called to ask him about an abandoned cement plant that had three miles of frontage along Little Traverse Bay.
It was easy to see the appeal of the property. Stephen Kircher had envisioned making “the Pebble Beach of the Midwest,” a name that might be considered sacrilege by golf purists. However, there are many stunning moments as you navigate the property. Bay Harbor’s Links was the most expensive nine hole course ever built at the time. Kircher recalls that the final result was well worth the money.
Dave Pugh, a Golfweek course rater, said Bay Harbor was spectacular. He brought 12 Canadian golfers to the course in spring. Arthur Hills designed three nines to reflect different architectural styles. The Links has its sprawling fairways, giant bunkers, and Quarry is a target-oriented Quarry. The Preserve cuts through the lakeside hardwood forest. Here’s a tip: Book all 27 holes when you visit. Although the Preserve does not have the same eight-figure views as the Links and Quarry it is considered the best property test. If you love the visuals, take a short drive from Charlevoix Avenue towards Crooked Tree. This scenic hillside layout offers panoramic views of Lake Michigan.
Boyne has three resorts in Northern Michigan – it also operates resorts elsewhere in the country – and they cover nearly 10,000 acres. There are many surprises along the way. The Arthur Hills Course is a large, muscular layout, with high-soaring pines that don’t feel like they are affecting the wide fairways. Locals have dubbed No. 10 “The Stadium”, because the trees line the entire hole. Then suddenly, we were on the 13th Tee and saw a drop of over 350 feet from green to tee. As many others I’m certain, I was also amazed at Hills’ subtle brilliance and the breathtaking views from the top of the treeline.
Debbie Waitkus visited the area in August to take part in the Golfweek Women’s Rater’s Cup. “It felt like we were at a ski resort.
Similar moments can be found back at Boyne Mountain. In 1971, The Alpine Course was constructed. It was decided that players would take a 10-minute cart ride up the hill to reach the first tee. The same applies to the nearby Monument Course. It might seem like a lot, but it is worth it when you reach 1,200 feet to enjoy the stunning views of Deer Lake. This is mountain golf at its best, with slopes affecting approaches and putts. The setting is beautiful. We had to give way to a deer as it made its way to the apple trees just left of the green on the 12th.
The Alpine Course experience reminds me of the most important criterion Golfweek’s raters must consider when assessing courses: The walk-in-the park test. It has always been the most important criterion and more subjective than emotional. What was your enjoyment of the experience? What are your goals for the future?
BOYNE Golf offers many reasons for its golfers to come back based on this criterion.
(For more information on BOYNE Golf, visit https://boynegolf.com or call 855-688-3286.)