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Superintendent Brad Krolik prepares a bunker at Northport Creek Golf Course on Thursday. The solar-powered golf course is set to open today.

NORTHPORT — Nearly three years in the making, the 9-hole Northport Creek Golf Course opens for play today.

The unique par-35 course is located in the Leelanau County village, blocks from the marina.

"We thought a golf course in Northport would be a boon to the area, that it would get people to come up here because we're sort of known as the end of the road," developer Bill Collins said. "There had been one up here years ago when we first moved up. When it closed Northport declined a little. We thought if we had one right here in the village it might help bring back the vitality that Northport had in those days."

Jerry Matthews designed the course on the 63-acre site.

What sets the course apart from others is that solar panels charge the golf carts, provide electricity to the clubhouse and run the irrigation. In fact, Northport Creek is billed as the first solar powered golf course in the country.

"It just made a lot of sense," Collins, 82, said.

Especially with the irrigation.

"A major cost of any golf course is irrigation," the former automotive engineer said. "By having what I call a solar farm we've managed to put in place a setup that will take care of the three wells we have and the two big 30-horse power irrigation pumps."

There are only a couple machines solar will not power.

"Unfortunately, we can't get any tractors or big lawnmowers that run on electric," Collins said.

Another unique aspect to the course is that golfers can play 3, 6 or 9 holes.

"Jerry has it set up where you can start on 7, go to 8 across the wetlands and then come back on 9 to the clubhouse," Collins said. "He thought it was nice way to make the course more usable. That way, people who are working, could come out in the evening and still play three holes."

Grand opening ceremonies are slated to be held this morning.




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