Traverse City News and Events

Prominent Golf Course Sold; To Become Hops Farm

Feb. 13, 2015

The former High Pointe Golf Club on M-72 in Acme Township has been sold and will become a commercial hops farm. The purchase includes the 225-acre golf course and adjacent parcels for a total of 545 acres (making it one of the largest contiguously owned properties in the area). MI Local Hops, a new venture, will plant on approximately 200 acres of the acquired land this spring.

The company is part of a larger group of investments managed by Traverse City-based MI Local Investments. Jason Warren, Mark Johnson, and Keith Stelter are the company's principals.

“Our intent with MI Local Hops is to create a business that supports the economy and the creation of jobs and opportunity in Michigan,” says Stelter.

The property purchase was facilitated by real estate broker and developer Jerry Snowden. High Pointe, owned by the Hayden family, was not listed for sale at the time; the course closed in 2008. Terms of the purchase were not disclosed.

The property is "pretty much perfect for the intended use due to open fields and proper soil conditions,” Snowden tells The Ticker.

In its day, High Pointe had a national reputation. The course was designed by renowned golf architect Tom Doak, and had been featured in top 100 lists of numerous publications including “Golf Magazine” and “Golf Digest.”

Though High Pointe’s heyday is behind it, hops production in the region is on the rise. Demand has increased in recent years, says Robert Sirrine with the Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems, due both to a shortage in 2008 and the increase in craft brewing. 

“Based on some of the macroeconomics presentations I’ve seen, [craft beer] is going to be 20 percent of the beer market by 2020,” says Sirrine. “The hops are going to need to come from somewhere.”

“We have already had a lot of interest from Michigan brewers as well as international hop brokers so we are feeling good about the market,” says MI Local Hops' Mark Johnson.

For a community with a passion for repurposing, the sale and transformation of High Pointe could become a point of local pride.

“Michigan was once a big hop growing region and we want to see it return to its former place in the industry.” says Stelter.

The property investment could also have long-term value as a potential development site as Acme and Whitewater Townships continue to grow.

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