Thursday, December 19, 2019

Sage Run at Island Resort & Casino Named Among Golf Digest’s “Best New Courses”

Bold, hilly Paul Albanese design earns kudos from magazine’s expert panelists

(Harris, Mich.) – The newest golf course in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Sage Run at Island Resort & Casino has been named to Golf Digest’s prestigious list of “Best New Courses, 2019.” Sage Run is the resort’s second course and Paul Albanese’s follow-up to his popular Sweetgrass design there.

More than 1,600 Golf Digest panelists across the U.S. and Canada played and evaluated Best New candidate courses, scoring each in eight evaluation categories: Shot Options, Layout Variety, Challenge, Distinctiveness, Aesthetics, Conditioning, Character and Fun. Sage Run was honored as one of the five Public layouts on the magazine’s always-anticipated list.

Sage Run plays around, over and through a scenic ridge that was shaped by glacial activity. Golfers experience winding holes through the trees and some open areas with tremendous variety of landscape and shot values. Natural long grasses edge the bunkers, and some of the short par 4s have blind shots to the greens. Albanese said Royal County Down in Northern Ireland, rated among the world’s top courses, served as inspiration for the course bunkering and overall “rough and rugged” aesthetic.

“We knew when we first laid eyes on this property, we had an incredible opportunity to create something very special. The routing that Paul Alabanese created turned out to be a dramatic yet very natural use of the natural, hilly features,” says Tony Mancilla, Island Resort’s General Manager. “To see Paul’s name in the same company with top designers like Gil Hanse, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw validates the brilliance we’ve seen in Paul’s work for a long time as well as the tremendous creative and strategic effort he put into Sage Run.”

Built in a thrilling natural setting, Sage Run showcases exceptional variety, including holes like the par-3 fifth, which plays significantly uphill or the short par-4 16th which dares you to take on an uphill shot to a blind landing area.

“It’s a great honor to have Sage Run recognized as one of America’s best new courses, especially considering the quality and depth of top architects and courses they had to consider,” Albanese says. “I think the natural flow and fit to the landscape and ruggedness of Sage Run is a fun contrast to the manicured, subtle and very bucolic course we created with Sweetgrass,” Albanese says. “To see golfers enjoying the way we navigated the dramatic natural features is very satisfying.”

Sage Run’s 7,375-yard par-72 design hosted the inaugural Island Resort Intercollegiate in August. Michigan State’s James Piot posted rounds of 68-70-69 (207) to slip past a trio of 210s posted by Nick Dentino and Joe Weiler of Purdue and Kieran Vincent of Liberty. Liberty edged Purdue by a single shot to take the team title.


For Albanese it was enlightening and gratifying to see the reactions Golf Digest’s panelists had to Sage Run:

“(Sage Run) is a combination of open prairie links and holes with wide corridors carved through trees. A dramatic piece of property in terms of elevation changes.”

“The architect used a massive ridge running through the property for tees, greens and even entire holes, like the uphill fifth and 16th. The third is an awesome par 5 with awesome bunkering in both the landing area and layup, reachable in two with great options off the tee, great options on your second and a cool small green perched on hill.”

“The course seems well balanced with holes being uphill, downhill, dogleg lefts and doglegs rights. This probably is its strongest attribute.”

“Sage Run surprised me. I was not expecting such dramatic elevations in comparison to nearby, relatively flat Sweetgrass. Sage Run is a breathtakingly beautiful course…”

“Built to be rugged.”

“A beast of a course that conjures visual comparisons to Shinnecock. Wide variety of green complexes and a number of unique holes. Exceptional conditioning for such a new course, and I expect this should improve.”

“This was worth the drive. The property is beautiful.”


For more information on how to book a stay at Island Resort & Casino to play Sage Run and Sweetgrass, visit and

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