OSCODA – Golfers of all ages and abilities need look no further than Lakewood Shores Resort in Oscoda for a unique experience when hitting the links.
The establishment boasts three distinct golf courses – as well as an 18-hole pitch and putt course, lodging, a banquet room, pro shop, lounge area and a full-service restaurant.
Spouses Craig and Tamara Peters have managed the business, essentially since day one, and have played a role in the various transformations which have occurred at Lakewood during the last 32 years.
According to Craig, the facility is owned by Stan Aldridge, who purchased the property in the late 1980s.
Craig, a former member of the University of Notre Dame Men’s Golf Team, who also played as a Class A PGA Professional, said Tamara – once a member of the University of South Florida Women’s Golf Team – had traveled with him for a while when he played professionally. But they knew they were ready for a change.
The couple, each originally from Michigan, were married in 1988. This is the same year they made the move from Florida to Oscoda, which they have called home ever since.
Craig said Aldridge had purchased the Lakewood Shores Resort property a year or so before he and Tamara relocated to Oscoda.
Craig and Aldridge got to talking, with Craig sharing that this was during a time when resorts were just getting started in northern Michigan.
When asked by Aldridge what he would do with Lakewood, Craig said that, considering the water and beautiful setting, he knew one way to attract guests would be with lodging. Therefore, this was added to the list of offerings at Lakewood in 1990.
Another milestone was realized shortly thereafter, upon construction of The Gailes, which is just one of the golf courses available at Lakewood.
According to Craig, The Gailes was named in 1993 by Golf Digest as the best new resort course in the United States.
The publication later rated The Gailes as the number one public and resort course in the state of Michigan, in 1996.
“It’s a huge honor – but it’s a great golf course,” remarked Craig, adding that this is what set the tone for further development and enhancements at Lakewood.
“There’s only been one other course in Michigan all these years that ever received the number one new course. And there’s a lot of great golf in Michigan,” he continued. “It’s a special golf course; there’s no question about it.”
Designed and built by Aldridge’s son, Kevin Aldridge, this course was the second to be completed at Lakewood, following establishment of The Serradella.
The Gailes is a Scottish links course, Craig elaborated. “The whole idea was to recreate what you would see if you went to the coast of Scotland.”
He said a typical course could have been added to Lakewood Shores Resort, but this wouldn’t be as much of an incentive for visitors, given all the other options which are available elsewhere.
“And that was the same thought when we built the Blackshire – we needed to build something a little different that you can’t see in northern Michigan all over the place,” Craig continued.
As noted on the Lakewood website, Blackshire was designed to recreate the look and feel of the famous Pine Valley Country Club. Although not a replica, it offers a similar rugged feel with hardwoods, large sand waste areas and undulating greens.
Also designed by Kevin Aldridge, Blackshire opened in 2001.
The Serradella is described on the website as offering the perfect resort course to complement the other championship designs. It features a classic parkland design with minimal hazards, wide fairways and large greens.
As for the 18-hole pitch and putt course, known as The Wee Links, Lakewood representatives say children and parents alike are sure to love this offering. It was designed specifically with families in mind, and features holes ranging from 30 to 100 yards.
Craig said The Wee Links is located right behind the lodging facility, which includes 152 rooms and can sleep 304 people.
Once the season gets going, he added that breakfast, lunch and dinner are available at Lakewood, with golfing offered from about late April to mid/late October, depending on weather.
Craig said the thought process behind having three separate courses is to provide completely distinct looks and styles of golfing, making participants feel as though they are in a different location each time.
He reiterated that those from Lakewood want to offer a unique experience which guests aren’t likely to find at other establishments.
“And the people here are great,” Craig went on.
He noted that, while the resort has grown a lot over the years, it still has that small-town, friendly feel which is attractive to guests.
He said Lakewood staff are often complimented on how they treat the customers, and that the business has nice, quality employees.
Craig stressed that a person can be trained to do their job and to say all the right things, but they can’t be trained to be nice – and to do so with sincerity.
He said this is what makes Lakewood stand out, as one of the goals has always been to hire those who are simply good people and want to help others. “It’s a really nice facility, with nice people.”
Many of the workers have been with the business long-term and, whether they are part of the cleaning staff, maintenance crew or work in one of the dining areas, Craig said multiple employees return year after year.
“It’s comfortable to be here; it’s not pretentious,” he added of the atmosphere at Lakewood Shores Resort.
While the establishment caters to newcomers each year, Craig said the return rate of repeat customers is very high, much of which is due to the way they are treated.
“Golf has gotten so expensive over the years,” he went on. “The whole thought, along with the unique courses, is make it affordable.”
According to Craig, Lakewood offers some of the best golf in the state, but at an affordable price.
He shared that, from a career aspect, he has very much enjoyed being involved with the growth of the business and being a part of something special and different.
On a more personal level, Craig said he and Tamara originally had no long-range plans when coming to Oscoda, but they fell in love with the community and found it to be a great place to raise their children.
“It’s just a beautiful area,” Craig commented.
Their love for the community has also been demonstrated in other ways, including their past involvement with the local middle school softball team, as well as assisting with the Oscoda Area Schools (OAS) Otters swim club.
One project particularly close to their hearts, though, has been the OAS Backpack Program.
The Peters and Lakewood Shores Resort, working with the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, established the program more than 10 years ago.
At the end of each week, students are able to take a backpack full of food home with them, to ensure they don’t go hungry over the weekends.
Craig said that he and Tamara realized there was a need for this in Oscoda. He pointed out that everybody knows hunger and homelessness exists, but it’s not always real or tangible.
He recalls that when the OAS Backpack Program got started, there were about 24 students who initially benefitted from it. This number doubled almost immediately and, by Christmas time of the first year, there were nearly 100 students who received assistance through the program.
Craig says that the success of the program is not due solely to those from Lakewood. Sponsorships and donations soon began coming in, and it has turned into a community-driven and supported effort.
He notes that the program currently serves an average of 160 students, but there have been times when this number reached 200.
“We’re so thankful that there’s so many giving people here to help, because it’s an enormous task to get food ready for 100 to 200 [students] weekly,” he said.
“When I grew up, I didn’t have much,” Craig shared.
He said that as these children grow up, their various needs still exist. In fact, it can be even tougher on these students, so his other concern is for the older children.
Therefore, the Peters also helped establish a pantry at Oscoda High School in 2011.
Craig said it is similar to a little store, where the students can pick out food, clothing and hygiene products they may need, with no limit on the number of items.
As is the case with the backpack program, “We can’t do it alone,” he said.
Craig noted that there are many pantry volunteers and donors from the community, including clubs, individuals and those from OAS.
He added that it can be costly to provide this assistance, and he is thankful that the money always comes through because of those in the community, as well as help from the food bank.
The Peters are modest when it comes to their giving nature, but Tamara was recognized in 2013 when she received the Beacon of Light award from the Food Bank Council of Michigan for her work with both the backpack program and high school pantry.
For more information about Lakewood Shores Resort, which is located at 7751 Cedar Lake Rd., visit https://www.lakewoodshores.com or call 1-800-882-2493.