I never quite understood it. Ask the typical Cincinnatian where they like to vacation during the summer months and they will, more often than not, tell you Myrtle Beach, SC. They will likely cite the ocean and beaches as the primary draw. And that it is completely understandable. You see, in southwest, Ohio we have no bodies of water – aside from, perhaps, a standing puddle or two created by the most recent thunderstorm. So I completely understand the desire to get away and get to the beach for some rest and relaxation – and, of course, pickleball!
West Michigan in the Summer – Ahhhhh!
However, instead of making the 656 mile, 10 hour & 27 minute trek to Myrtle Beach, please consider the more manageable 332 mile, 5 hour-and-some-change drive to the pristine shores of Lake Michigan. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for making the drive to Myrtle Beach during the late fall, winter or early spring. But not the summer! It’s hard to beat average June, July and August temperatures for Holland, Michigan, of 79, 83 and 82 degrees respectively. Compare that to average temperatures for Myrtle Beach during this same time period of 88, 91 and 89 degrees. For me – although I’m surely biased – it’s a no-brainer. Summer days in west Michigan are the best!
First Pickleball Stop Along the Lakeshore – Holland, Michigan
Recently, my nephew got married in west Michigan. My wife and I drove up to Holland, MI – home of the historic Big Red Lighthouse, Tulip Time Festival and the Hope College Flying Dutchmen – on Wednesday afternoon. As the typical pickleball addict who wants to maximize my picklebility, I messaged the local pickleball Facebook Group (Tulip City Pickleball Club) to see if there was open play that evening. Being a virtually brand new pickleball club (8 new courts were just installed in June) I wasn’t entirely optimistic that there would be action on the courts on such short notice. However, much to my delight, Facebook group member, John, responded stating that a group was playing that evening beginning at 5:00 PM.
Soon after arriving in Holland, I was off to the courts to play. Although I didn’t get to the courts until shortly after 7:00 PM, I was able to play on the brand new courts at Moran Park in Holland, Michigan, for about 2 hours. The group – including John, Joni, Ethel, Lisa and others – were extremely hospitable, kind and encouraging. I had a blast. The courts – and people – were fantastic.
Second Pickleball Stop Along the Lakeshore – Grand Haven, Michigan
On Friday morning I scoured the other local Facebook group pages and opted to make the 15-minute drive up the Lake Michigan coast to beautiful Grand Haven – home to the 2.5 mile boardwalk that runs along the harbor and is lined with shops, restaurants, marinas and charter fishing boats. The Lakeshore Pickleball Club at Mulligan’s Hollow in Grand Haven is nestled literally just a stone’s throw from the boardwalk and Grand Haven State Park.
As I walked up to put my paddle in the rack for “next up” I heard somebody calling my name. “Todd.” “Hey, Todd!” So here I am, 350 miles from where I currently live – and probably 200 miles away from where I previously lived – and my former colleague (and boss) at Kmart Corporation is playing on the very same courts I’m visiting. What a neat and unexpected surprise. All the courts were filled that morning – with several of the players visiting from elsewhere in the country. I played several games – for about an hour – at the Lakeshore Pickleball Club. They were equally as welcoming. Thanks to Carrie and Carol for being exceptionally gracious hosts.
Other West Michigan Pickleball Clubs
There are several other clubs along the lakeshore that I didn’t get the opportunity to visit – simply because of lack of time. Perhaps when I return to west Michigan I’ll have the opportunity to play at Spring Lake, at the Belknap Courts in Grand Rapids and at the Douglas Saugatuck Pickleball Club at Schultz Park in Douglas, Michigan. I can’t wait to return – but probably not until next summer – as I hear ol’ man winter is getting ready to make his return to Michigan soon.
If you’re considering a pickleball excursion with what few weeks we have left this summer – please consider Pure Michigan. And, no, I don’t work for the “Chamber of Commerce.” Ha! I just love playing pickleball in west Michigan in the summer! If I missed any local pickleball clubs in west Michigan, please let me know in the comments below. I would love to visit. See you on the courts!
Todd is the talent behind PickleballMAX. He knows pickleball and demonstrates it on the court as a 4.5 – 5.0 player. In addition to creating content and running the PickleballMAX business, Todd is IPTPA Level II certified. As an instructor at the Ohio Pickleball Academy, he instructs students and runs adult and youth clinics. He also manages tournament desks throughout the tri state for tournaments ranging from 100-500 participants.