Golfing in Gaylord


August 1, 2012



Treetops in Gaylord

The relentless heat propelled us 350 miles north to Gaylord, Michigan, 20 degrees cooler, into absolutely beautiful countryside. Accompanied by The Golfer we quickly discovered that golf courses are among the most stunning landscaped settings in the civilized world. Disregarding those sandy depressions called bunkers there we were amidst rolling moraines, undulating greens, wide expanses of bright green fairways, blue spruce, purple Scots thistles, wildflowers and wild turkeys.

The destination was Treetops Golf Resort,  3,500 acres of five championship courses, and 81 holes to anguish over, a golfer’s paradise. The word had spread. On this gorgeous weekend there were hundreds and hundreds of men (spotted two women) on the courses, in the clubhouses, in the bars and eateries on the site, so many in fact that one caused to remark it was like a golf factory.

Much has to do with the reputation of the proprietor Rick Smith who has a mammoth reputation as a golf instructor. He is the architect of three of the courses including The Signature we played with the greens all going downhill on the front nine and uphill on the back. Though the elevation of the terrain is only 1,300 feet it is cannily designed to seem far steeper. In the winter Treetops becomes a ski resort northern Michigan being right in the snow belt.

Restaurant in Gaylord

No doubt we have been spoiled by the word resort, recalling the American Club in Kohler or Eagle Ridge in Galena so the spare rather tired Inn and Lodge at Treetops were a real disappointment. A smart hotel chain would swoop this property up with the Fazio and Jones and Par 3 courses and create a destination resort. As it is the hotel/motel is a men’s club for golfers who want to pop a few beers and catch a few winks before the next round.

Speaking of tired, well there’s dear old Gaylord.  We remember it as a posh, vibrant little village 30 years ago before the wholesale desertion of small towns and the appearance of Best Buy, addiction counselors and psychics. It still retains some Alpine Village motifs from the 50s with Tyrolean style buildings such as the Sugar Bowl, circa 1919, now a Greek restaurant. We were assured the best place in town was Bennethum’s Northern Inn, a lot of cedar and fatty chain fare with hefty wine and beer prices.

Signature Course

We longed for more sophisticated places like Petoskey (no, not Traverse City). By the by, Tribune writer J.B. Noel claims that Petoskey hasn’t changed much since Hemingway went there as a child. Yoicks.  Hem would turn over in his grave to see that the fresh green wilderness has become a sea of malls and condos. In the summer the entire Lake Michigan coast is a rumble of tourists roaming the streets looking for their next meal. They say Wisconsin the fattest state but hard to imagine fatter women anywhere than in Michigan. Actually amazing. Why does rural America breed potato ladies? The guys look OK.

Steppenwolf ‘s Three Sisters

What were they thinking? Chekov’s Three Sisters, the current production at Steppenwolf, is another one of those impossible conceits that show a desire to be different at all costs. Lionized playwright Tracy Letts rewrote the language of the 19th century Russian master of ponderous phrases and philosophical musings for characters who blurt “Life sucks”, “I’m pissed off” and …you get the idea. OK fine we get it but why dress them in 19th century costume and direct them with ritualized melodramatic gestures and phrasing? It doesn’t connect with the audience who tried to make sense of it. Some just fell asleep.

Steppenwolf Intermission

It is the reverse mode, but ultimately the same attempt at newness as Branagh’s Shakespearean flics that retain the Bard’s language and place his characters in anachronistic settings such as Coriolanus in Croatia or Hamlet in 21st century New Yawk. Spare us!

For Art’s Sake

We see the LA Museum of Contemporary Art will be using freelance curators after the Jeffrey Deitch Debacle. Whatever the case do try and remember that most contemporary art is not about heightening experience but creating portable collectibles, like new gold. Of course manufacturing big reputations is essential in all this process. For the 99% who don’t amass portable collectible objects it’s pretty much bollocks though to be fair  it does give tourists something to do after lunch and shopping.

So much collecting is like peasants hording potatoes in the 30 Year’s War. A hedge against disaster which is on everyone’s mind these days.

There still however plenty of room for modest proposals and unpretentious art to enhance our lives and the spaces we inhabit. This is where the colorful, impasto rich paintings of Tom O’Gormancome in. His current show Dublin

Oscar Tatosian and Brian White

Tenement drew a large crowd at Kiki’s  including Oscar Tatosian, Brian White, Cynthia Olsen, John Buck (remember the great star of 80s real estate?), Tom Gorman, Bob O’Neill et. al.

Cancer Charities

The Lynn Sage Cancer Cancer Research Foundation threw its third annual Summer Soiree at Roka Akor on Clark on a blistering hot night so no wonder most of the young ladies worse minimal couture . Proceeds went to Northwestern’s Lurie Cancer Center and the crowd was overflowing. It was however such a relief to escape the wilting sushi  to the superb Naha across the street.  Hear there is a French restaurant from the group set to open grace a Dieu – there is currently no good Gallic fare in Chicago.

Entre nous we are always a tad insulted by some PR staff who treat the media like gate crashers. We really don’t need those free pink designer cocktail, dears. We actually are interested in covering important charities.

We see the Sun Times is media sponsor for some American Cancer Society and Service Club events. There used to be a dividing line between charities and media but not anymore apparently. Oh well, times and ethics change.

Lynn Sage Foundation Board

Then there is the sudden shutdown of Y-Me breast cancer organization which prompted a call by Sen. Ira Silverstein for the state’s attorney general to investigate the charity. “Given the size of the organization, the number of people involved and the importance of their work, I think there should be some accountability,” he said. He was among the more than 20,000 people who participated in the May 13th walk which did not do as well as in previous years. Some said it was a public reaction to the Susan Komen brouhaha.


We hope you are reading Caitlin Rodwell’s field journal from Namibia at scientistatwork/nytimes for updates about Paula the outcast elephant mother and her baby Bruce. It is actually amazing there is any wildlife left in Africa considering the poaching and the destruction of the environment.  At the annual Newberry book sale we bought Wildflower by Mark Seal, about conservationist and filmmaker extraordinaire Joan Root who was murdered in Kenya/Tanzania as were other Western ecologists Dian Fossey, Joy Adamson, and George Adamson. Little hope for our eles so it seems.

Sooooooo comical to witness the pushing and shoving of book-seeking  bargain hunters in full crazy mode at this annual sale. We also bought the Memoirs of the Duc de Saint Simon, the Rise and Fall of the British Aristocracy by David Cannadine, some old Kenya settler memoirs and a book about the English Lake District.

Getting and Spending we lay waste our powers.

Wordsworth knew the score. The current administration is the biggest spender in world history with federal outlay 25.2% of our GNP. The trillion dollar stimulus package – well we suppose it got us some fresh tarmac and plants on the North Avenue exit from Lake Shore Drive, but really!!!! Stanford’s John Taylor rightly notes that the short term stimulus package and temporary tax rebates (and what about that preposterous cash for clunkers nonsense?) caused much of our economic misery with short-term Band Aids.

Bundler update: See Kevin Conlon is at it again; there’s the  Cubs’ Laura Ricketts, a host of LGBT bundlers  including Andrew Tobias and Fred Eychaner, Les Coney,  Charles Lewis, Penny Pritzker who has bundled somewhere between 200 and 500 thousand pas beaucoup. Desiree Rogers is taking a pass on bundling but is helping others bundle. According to Money mag we’re the top for numbers of millionaires (40% of global total) followed by Japan,China, GB and Germany. About 20%  have inherited their wealth here. So there.

Black Crowned Night Heron

Local News

Next time you’re on Montrose which could be the cutest street in Chicago pop into Nick Spencer’s Jolly Posh for some Heinz Beans and other British foodstuffs. Then go on a few block west to Alapash Home at 1944 West for Marco Chavarry’s circular terrariums. We frequent Elena at KE Salon which outperforms the downtown hair joints hands down – the ones that charge you an extra $45 to clip two hairs and another $45 to dry it after laying down $100 for a couple of blond streaks.

What happened to the Carleton Club in the Ritz? We were to go to lunch there last week with Marie Tyler only to find it was moved in to a back room off the café in the lobby. We did order lunch in the café presided over by the divine Pierre but we miss the greenery, the foliage and multileveled design of the space which today suffers from the inexplicable hotel redesign mania of  the past few years where everything became beige and stripped to essentials.

Trattoria Trullo on Lincoln Square is a fine place for Puglian cuisine with its light touch. The eggplant dishes are like clouds not the leaden parm fare we’re used to. Also love the old photos of Bari, the Adriatic farmers and the land where so many of our ancestors here originated. Bella.

See Stella Foster is about to leave the media spotlight. When we departed Spotlight those years ago the change from being loudly pursued to total silence was instantaneous.  In fact the very next day we were turned away from the opening of Planet Hollywood by the very person who had thrown us a grand party for Spotlight.

Gail and Jonathon at Parrish benefit

Thanks to Lincoln Park for protecting the black crowned night heron, and endangered species in Illinois. Walkers gladly forgo a few hundred yards of fenced in path for our feathered friends.

The Parrish Art Museum in Southampton held a swell summer soiree for the new museum, which looks like an elongated Long Island barn. But no one throws a party like the East Enders south of the highway.




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