Taking a Swing at Something New
Twin Birch Golf Club introduces new restaurant, amenities, and events
By Rachel Pasche | July 29, 2023
Golf is a quintessential pastime during northern Michigan summers. Is there a better way to enjoy the long days of sunshine and verdant, blooming landscapes than spending a few hours out on the links? For Kwin Morris, owner of the recently updated Twin Birch Golf Club, the answer is definitely not.
Twin Birch sits just northeast of downtown Kalkaska. The par-72 course is bordered by statuesque pine trees and runs along the Boardman River, allowing guests to experience the quiet, natural beauty that being Up North provides. (Morris says golfers might spot some deer or turkeys on the course while they’re out playing.) Combine the picturesque setting with 18 holes, putting and practice greens, a driving range, clubhouse, and restaurant, and you’ll start to see what makes this newly renovated space so special.
Twin Birch Golf Course had only nine holes when Ron Cross designed it back in 1967. It was expanded in 1989 by Joe Roeske, a well-known golf architect who made the course the 18 holes it is today. The course is a daily fee course with an “open to the public” guest policy.
Morris’ family bought the property in 2013, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2021 that Morris took up the reins. He is a teacher and says that teaching virtually at the start of the pandemic made for “a really tough year.” That spurred him to look for a fun side project.
“We [my family] had the course but I wasn’t involved in it,” Morris explains. “And we decided as a family, let’s revamp this thing and build a brand-new, awesome clubhouse, and that really got me excited to do something unique and offer something lacking in Kalkaska.”
In the last two years, the property has undergone a major upgrade to elevate the entire experience at the club, from the course to the on-site restaurant. (More on dining below!) According to Morris, all of the buildings have been given a facelift, down to the cart barn, where 52 new golf carts in the fleet help the club manage the busy summer season. Morris also says he’s working with the Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association to construct a single-track around the property to give golfers and non-golfers alike another way to enjoy the area.
“It’s a place with live music that you can bring the family biking, camping, hiking—and golfing, of course—and get an amazing chef-crafted meal,” Morris says.
The course itself garners positive reviews across the board, with 98 percent of players recommending it on NBC’s GolfPass, a site where users can rank courses around the country. Twin Birch consistently gets strong marks for its condition, pace of play, and the friendliness of the staff. The value is also a big draw.
Morris says they’ve made a concerted effort to make golfing accessible to more members of the community, including offering discounted rates for seniors. Nine holes plus cart rental is $30 Monday through Thursday and $35 Friday through Sunday. Similarly, 18 holes plus cart rental is only $40 Monday through Thursday, and $45 Friday through Sunday. Senior and twilight rates (past 3pm) are $25 Monday through Thursday and $35 Friday through Sunday—both rates include cart use.
On the dining side, Morris has brought in a new chef who constructed a menu with a focus on handcrafted food that’s perfect for both a quick bite or a relaxing dinner. (In addition to the lunch and dinner menus, the club also offers breakfast on the weekend for some pre-tee fuel.)
You’ll find classic apps like Spinach Artichoke Dip, Soft Pretzels, and Chips and Salsa, but also creative shareables like Buffalo Cauliflower, Tempura Mushrooms, and Brisket Burnt Ends. Friday nights offer a shrimp and fish fry, while Saturdays are dedicated to a prime rib special.
Morris says some of the most popular menu items are the steaks and fish entrees (Scottish Salmon and Panko Parmesan Crusted Whitefish stand out), though their burgers, wraps, and salads are regular picks too.
Inside the restaurant, large windows and wood ceilings and beams lend the space a contemporary rustic feel, and an extensive wine and beer list gives golfers plenty to choose from whether they’re grabbing some drinks for the links or cooling off after a round.
Speaking of beverages, the Twin Birch Mug Club sold out almost immediately, but there’s a waitlist for those who want their chance at a mug on the wall. Free coffee and soft drinks, $1 off all drafts, and extra treats on birthdays are all part of what make a membership so coveted. The perks extend past the restaurant, too: Mug Club members can also enjoy deals on apparel at the pro shop and discounted rates to enter into tournaments and other events at Twin Birch. The membership is $60 for the first year and $50 for each following year.
If you can’t get into the Mug Club, then by all means get into the summer golf leagues and activities. The weekdays at Twin Birch Golf Club are stacked with different types of events, from the Monday Night Scramble with cash prizes, a sold-out men’s league on Tuesday nights, two women’s leagues on Wednesday, and the Jack and Jill Scramble (a couples’ scramble) on Thursday, not to mention live music on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays throughout the summer.
Part of Twin Birch’s mission, Morris says, is to make golf feel fun for grown-ups and kids alike. In addition to events for adults, Twin Birch offered its annual youth golf camp July 17-19. The camp consisted of golf instruction and etiquette for ages six to 16 and cost $40.
Morris feels that by offering affordable prices, hosting regular events including live music, and serving up great food in the restaurant, Twin Birch has the entire package for anyone in the region. “You can come here to have an event, play with your family, or have a laid-back golf experience. It’s a great spot to enjoy northern Michigan without breaking the bank,” he says.
Learn more about Twin Birch Golf Club—the course, restaurant, and events—at twinbirchgolf.com or by calling 231-258-9651.