SUTTONS BAY — Father and son Mark and Crosley Duckmann have purchased Bahle Farms Golf Course from the Suttons Bay family it is named after. The Duckmann family hails from the Chicago area, but are long-time Leelanau County summer residents.

The 20-year-old golf course in Leelanau County was built mostly on land owned and farmed by the Bahle family since the mid-1940s, according to a release. The 186-acre property includes cherry orchards and hardwood forest and offers spectacular views of Leelanau’s natural beauty.

The par-71 golf course will remain exactly that under the new owners.

“We’re just putting in a little bit of sweat equity and dressing the place up a little bit,” said the 24-year-old Crosley Duckmann, who will serve as general manager. “We want to keep it a golf course. We know it’s been an asset in the community for people to come out and play.

“If we can make at least one more thing a day more beautiful, if we can make at least one thing better ever day, we’ve reached our goal.”

“Absolutely,” said Melissa Obis, Crosley Duckmann’s girlfriend, who will serve as marketing and events manager for the new owners. “The golf course is staying as beautiful as it is.”

Erik Bahle, who served as general manager at the course, will remain on staff this season to help the transition.

“The Bahle family has been amazing, as well as Erik, the current general manager,” Obis said. “He has agreed to stay on to help us in in the transition. He wants to see us succeed, so he’ll stay on for the season and the postseason to help us transition into this new role.”

“He’ll stay on in a very behind the scenes role,” Crosley Duckmann said. “He’ll be more of a consultant, but he’ll be around and make sure we’re not doing anything stupid. He and his family are very passionate about the course and want to make it thrive.”

Bahle said he knows the Duckmanns will continue to operate Bahle Farms Golf Course in a similar fashion and the switch should be seamless.

“I’m thrilled to transition ownership to someone who also understands and appreciates the northern Michigan culture,” Bahle said in a release. “I’m beyond excited to be able to announce the Duckmann family as our new owners”

Course superintendent Kevin Brown also will remain at Bahle Farms as long as he is willing to stay, Crosley Duckmann said. Obis said no major changes are planned for the course, which measures 6,651 yards from the black tees and 4,606 yards from the red tees.

“We want to keep everyone playing and having a good time,” Obis said.

Mark Duckmann, a semi-retired small business owner and financial accountant, “will assist behind the scenes,” according to a release. The younger Duckmann graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in financial accounting and business information systems.

Bahle Farms opened for its 20th season May 1.

Most of the notable changes will be inside the building, Crosley Duckmann and Obis said.

The COVID-19 pandemic shut down food service last year.

“We’ll try and get the grills going,” Crosley Duckmann said. “That will be the first day. We’ll have hotdogs, burgers and brats out for everyone. We’ll start with that and slowly implement some other things.”

“Our vision and our goal is to expand the kitchen efforts and have people coming out and hanging out, having a beer or a wine on our patio,” Obis said. “We want to bring that community back around the golf course.”

For more information or to book a tee time, visit https://traversecitygolf.com/.

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