With a favorite club in hand and the hole little more than 100 yards away, it’s still nerve-wracking to stand on the 17th tee at Eagle Eye Golf Club. Even with only pride at stake.

All the water around the tiny island green might have something to do with that.

With five sets of tees ranging from 83 to 146 yards, the signature hole at Eagle Eye isn’t long. But the challenge of the 17th is a long time in coming.

Though each of the first 16 holes of the nationally-ranked course are memorable on their own, the island green is never out of mind. By the time I walked onto the 17th tee, I literally had the jitters.

I took aim, waggled the club head and…

…splash!

I hit so far behind the ball that it barely made it to the water, much less over it.

Drinks after a round of golfThank goodness Lansing’s full of places to calm your nerves and drown your sorrows after a day on the links. Nothing complements the challenge of the water at Eagle Eye like the Makers & Shakers Trail that’s full of, shall we say, more relaxing liquids. 

The trail features 17 craft breweries, artisan distilleries and specialty wineries. Not far from Eagle Eye are Red Cedar Spirits, Ellison Brewery and Burgdorf’s Winery.

After a day on the links and a night in the tavern, you can do it all over again tomorrow. Just as the Makers & Shakers Trail has stops all over town, there’s great golf all over the Capital Region.

Here are a few favorites:

  • Hawk Hollow has a finishing hole around Hawk Lake that gives No. 17 at Eagle Eye a run for its money, and an 18-hole Little Hawk putting course where you can settle your bets – and try to make a 150-footer that wraps around a dogleg
  • Forest Akers is the home of the Michigan State Spartans and annual host of the state high school golf finals. Seeing the flags of all 14 Big Ten schools outside the clubhouse will get your adrenaline pumping.
  • Timber Ridge is the area’s diamond in the rough, with an “Up North” feel that routes through the woods. Simply put, every single hole is awesome and beautiful.
  • I was surprised by the great condition of Groesbeck, a city-owned course in Lansing that’s a really nice course at a great value.
  • The Emerald, off M-127 in St. John’s about 20 minutes north of Lansing, really is a gem of mid-Michigan golf, as the sign out front says. The course has a laid-back vibe and is playable for a variety of ages and abilities. Right across the street is Uncle John’s Cider Mill and Fruit House Winery.

After the conference - Makers & Shakers TrailYou can plan your own Lansing golf package by choosing from any number of hotels that are near one of the courses above. Wherever you stay, there’s a stop on the Makers & Shakers Trail nearby.

I hope you’ll fare better on the 17th at Eagle Eye than I did. But even if you judge the wind well, pick the right club, make solid contact and land your ball on the green, you’re still not out of danger. The green’s undulating tiers make a 3-putt possible, if not likely, when you hit the wrong side of the green.

But if you can narrow your target and fire at the stick then an ace is not out of the question, especially with the pin in front. (I played a mulligan that darn near slipped into the cup.)  

That’s Eagle Eye for you. It’s one of the most challenging and most rewarding golf courses in the country. Yet, it might not even be your favorite course in Lansing.