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The Inn at Harbor Shores is already a popular destination for visiting golfers and locals alike.


Harbor Shores Golf Club Review

Impact has Been Positive - and Far-Reaching

By Len Ziehm

From the beginning the building of Harbor Shores was a feel-good thing. Creating a beautiful, upscale golf destination could only be an enhancement for an economically depressed area in southwestern Michigan.

Well, the building of the Jack Nicklaus-designed Harbor Shores course wasn't all that long ago - it opened in 2010 - but the changes throughout the Benton Harbor area have been extensive. A quick trip there proved that in a hurry. What a comeback this community has made, largely because it added a stunning golf course!

Once the course was opened it never dropped out of the spotlight. Whirlpool Corp. got the ball rolling and kept it going. Barely two years after its opening Harbor Shores hosted the Senior PGA Championship presented by Kitchenaid - one of the major tournaments on the Champions Tour. That tournament returned in 2014 and will also be back in 2016 and 2018.

That's all well and good, but this isn't designed as a golf course update. It's more than that. After all, a big golf tournament only takes one week. and exciting things have been going on both in and around Harbor Shores ever since the course opened. For those who haven't been to the Benton Harbor area for a few years, you might not recognize the place when you return. The whole community has been working together in the revival effort.

Most eye-catching is The Inn at Harbor Shores. It opened just in time for the 2014 Senior PGA Championship, providing the resort with an appropriate upscale lodging option for visiting golfers. It's a leisure and business 90-room hotel billed as Lake Michigan's first golf and waterfront destination. Condos are also under construction on the seventh and eighth floors, but the rooftop bar is already a popular social hangout.

The Inn has a marina, spa, fitness center, conference/banquet facilities and indoor-outdoor swimming pools. It offers scenic views of both the golf course and the water and fine dining at Plank's Tavern. Strong consideration is being given to make it more of a year-around destination by adding cross country ski trails. The golf course has spots that would be perfect for that once the snow falls.

Harbor Village, a 530-acre lifestyle community located on the St. Joseph and Paw Paw rivers in the bordering community of St. Joseph, is also well underway. Kerry Wright, director of sales and marketing for the Village, reports that 12 homes have been built and are now occupied just since the last Senior PGA Championship and eight more lots have been sold. Out-of-towners, especially those from Chicago, have discovered what Harbor Village is all about.

Residents have easy access to 12 miles of walking/biking trails that are also open to the public. Some of the trails intermingle with the cart paths on the golf course. Others go through Jean Klock Park and touch the waters of Lake Michigan, the St. Joseph River and the Paw Paw River. A new fitness center has also opened nearby.

Nowhere, though, are the upgrades as eye-catching as in the city of Benton Harbor. There's still work to be done, but long-closed buildings aren't nearly as prevalent as they were before the course opened and new businesses are evident. Attractive murals don the walls of some of them and an arts district is sprouting up quickly.

New restaurants are also in the mix, most notably Bread + Bar, and an interesting, very new coffee stop - Clifford's Coffee Canal, which was a few days from its grand opening but still welcoming curious visitors - intrigued us with its d├ęcor, cozy atmosphere and waterfront views. The Livery and The Ideal Place are good Benton Harbor nightspots.

As for the course, it remains its challenging, testy, memorable self. And its conditioning is top-notch. The First Tee program is also thriving there. Some of the steep greens were softened since the last Senior PGA but, thankfully, not the controversial one at the No. 10 hole. It remains - at least arguably - the most memorable part of the course.

There's a lot of competition among many great golf destinations in Michigan, and Harbor Shores is right in the thick of it.


Revised: 11/18/2015 - Article Viewed 20,242 Times - View Golf Course Profile

About: Len Ziehm

Len Ziehm My 41-year career on the Chicago Sun-Times sports staff ended with my retirement on June 30, 2010. During that stint I covered a wide variety of sports, but golf was a constant. I was the paper's golf writer for 40 years, during which time I covered 27 U.S. Opens, 10 Masters, 17 PGA Championships, four U.S. Women's Opens and the last 34 Western Opens in addition to a heavy load of Chicago area events.

For 20 years I was a columnist for Chicagoland Golf, a newspaper that suspended publication following the death of founder and good friend Phil Kosin in 2009. (This is not to be confused with the publication of the same name which was introduced in 2013 after being known as Chicago Area Golf for three years). I also contributed a chapter to a history book on the Solheim Cup and have been a member of the selection committee for the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame.

As a player I remain just an avid hacker with a handicap that never has dipped below 16.

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