Saint John’s Resort, Metro Detroit’s leading resort, hotel, and conference center destination, on June 22 will open its new Raymond Hearn-designed 18-hole championship golf course, The Cardinal.

In addition, the resort will also debut to the public its Little Cardinal Par 3 short course, Cardinal Putting Course, and Doyles Irish Pub. The project is the region’s first high-end public golf development in more than 20 years and part of a $50 million resort transformation that began in 2021 under the property’s ownership group, the non-profit Pulte Family Charitable Foundation.

“We are very excited to be opening this new championship golf course, Par 3 course, and putting course. It has been over a year in the making, and everything has been meticulously maintained for the past six months. The course conditions are the best I have seen for a new course opening,” said Stan Witko, executive director of golf for Saint John’s Resort. “This new championship golf course, combined with the short course and putting course, creates the perfect golf entertainment venue for golfers of all abilities, golf groups, and families to enjoy together. The facility serves as a foundation for building a passion for the game, offering a welcoming entry point into the world of golf. On top of that, 100 percent of the profits from the resort, including golf, goes to charity.” 

The Cardinal at Saint John’s Resort stretches across 200 acres of rolling land. The original 27 holes were removed entirely to create the new golf course. The Cardinal presents an original experience with no two holes that look or play alike, having been routed in all directions to factor in elevation, wind, terrain, and scenic beauty for optimal strategic shot values. The course also takes full advantage of the flow of the land and the beautiful 100-year-old trees that were saved during the project and now frame many of the holes, providing a classic design aesthetic from the golden age of golf course architecture. Several holes also feature classic Golden Age green contours and bunkering. 

“The land was a perfect setting for me to draw on my inspiration from previous Donald Ross, Tom Bendelow, and Willie Park Jr. projects and one of my favorite courses, The Old Course at Sunningdale by Willie Park Jr, which I implemented on both the championship course and the short course,” said Hearn. “Our goal was to create a fun golf experience. I believe we have achieved that, and then some, with this project.”

The Little Cardinal and Cardinal Putting Course is the region’s first-of-its-kind seven-hole short course and two-acre putting course. 

Also designed by Hearn, The Little Cardinal course is set among 7.5 acres of rolling hills in a beautiful parkland setting, giving golfers a variety of fun, short shots into some inspired green complexes. The holes, ranging from 44 yards to 112 yards with names such as Punchbowl, Volcano, and Postage, provide a unique experience for all ages and abilities. To make the game easier for golfers, the course has incorporated synthetic turf tee boxes with a shock-absorbing rubber foundation replicating natural grass tees and providing a more forgiving surface to hit shots.

The Cardinal Putting Course is a two-acre 18-hole putting course packed with endless fun and challenge. The course, which was inspired by the Himalayas Putting Course at St. Andrews in Scotland, features a variety of exciting humps and swales, although not as extreme as the original. The 18 holes can also be set up in four different versions. This fun golf gathering space includes food and beverage, built-in music, and scheduled live music events.

“These exciting golf attractions provide a relaxed environment focused on fun and offering a less intimidating introduction to the game, encouraging newcomers to want to participate, learn, and improve,” said Witko.

The multi-purpose golf entertainment venue, which wraps around the resort’s driving range and top national golf retailer, Carl’s Golfland, will also feature the new Doyles Irish Pub, an authentic two-story Irish pub restaurant and gathering place that will be the perfect place for a pre-or post-round meal or drink.

The new Shorty Club Membership offers a unique opportunity to experience The Little Cardinal and Cardinal Putting Course golf attractions with no green fees, advanced bookings, and special rates for The Cardinal. This new membership will offer families and youth players an accessible and enjoyable way to engage with golf, spend time together, and become part of a community where golf is a shared passion.

“We wanted an innovative membership model that could attract families and new players to the game in a fun and non-intimidating atmosphere,” said Witko. “What makes the Shorty Club especially appealing is its focus on inclusivity and fun, ensuring that golf is accessible to all. There isn’t a membership opportunity like this anywhere in Metro Detroit.”

Saint John’s Resort will offer various golf package experiences for foursomes, couples, groups, families, and corporate outing events. Stay-and-play packages will include resort credit to Doyles Irish Pub and FIVE Steakhouse, reduced fees on Little Cardinal, and unlimited access to The Cardinal Putting Course. Families will have a unique and fun golf package opportunity to experience the Little Cardinal with unlimited use of the Cardinal Putting Course. Groups of 8 or more will receive welcome drinks at Doyles Irish Pub, group golf instruction, and golf on both Cardinal and Limited Cardinal with unlimited access to the Cardinal Putting Course.

Photo Courtesy of Saint John’s Resort