Harbor Shores - Elevate Your Golfing Expectations
Written by Marc Hall
Harbor Shores Resort host of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, which returned this year to one of the most inspirational Jack Nicklaus Signature designs. The oldest senior major championship has been an every-other-year staple in Southwest Michigan since 2012, thanks to the support from Whirlpool and KitchenAid.
And while the 2020 event was cancelled due to the pandemic, the buildup for the event returning for the fourth time this past Memorial Day weekend was as exciting as this year’s Champion, Steven Alker from New Zealand, shooting a final round 63. When a course hosts a major, visitors typically arrive on the first tee with elevated expectations. Golfers at Harbor Shores can walk in the shoes of players like this year’s champion.
If you’re seeking a bucket list destination that also hosts one of the top majors, consider Harbor Shores Resort. Fly into the city’s Southwest Michigan Airport, which only accommodates private aircraft, and you’ll see endless miles of sandy beaches and the scenic routing of the course that Nicklaus boldly tabbed as one of his 18 favorite designs of all time.
This top golf destination offers quality championship golf, luxurious accommodations, exquisite dining options, and entertaining non-golf activities. Imagine walking the fairways with the legends of the game one day, and then hitting shots from similar spots and conditions the next.
This Nicklaus design is also the centerpiece of a massive development that changed the landscape of the Benton Harbor community. During World War II, local Whirlpool plants and factories were transformed into F.D.R.’s arsenal of democracy, manufacturing components for fighter planes. The city then evolved into a vibrant manufacturing center in the 1950’s and 1960’s, only to see it all disappear over the next 20 years -- prompting community leaders to recognize that change was desperately needed. Over the past decade, revitalized areas and multi-purpose developments have sprung up around the course, including multiple residential communities and a luxurious riverside boutique hotel.
Nicklaus created a wonderful routing that runs over four remarkably diverse terrains in a spectacular topographical locale. The beginning six holes meander the Inland terrain through beautiful wetland areas. Holes 7-9 wind along a dramatic exposed dunes-scape with awe-inspiring views of Lake Michigan. Holes 10-13 play through woodlands terrain and wind through rolling hills, ravines, and a hardwood forest. And the finishing five holes border the Paw Paw River, Ox Creek and wetlands.
Highlighting each hole is signage telling the story about what once laid there -- replete with before-and-after images, showcasing Whirlpool’s visions and the engineering feats. Flanking the signs are beautifully crafted art pieces commemorating each of Nicklaus’ 18 major championships.
When planning your stay, the new Champions Villa is a perfect space for 4-8 golfers. It’s conveniently located along the first fairway right next to the clubhouse. This 2,000-square-foot, 4-bedroom/4-bath unit exemplifies golf luxury and is equipped with a full kitchen and open living space. Another excellent option for lodging is the beautiful Inn at Harbor Shores, a 92-room luxury hotel on the St. Joseph River. It features 14 luxury suites, two top-floor condominiums, a rooftop meeting space, and a wide selection of dining options such as Plank’s Tavern on the Water, Torch & Tapas, and Rise & Vine. Make sure to check out the Champions Package that includes two nights lodging plus unlimited golf for four guests.
Along with Harbor Shores Golf Club, the region also boasts other fine public tracts. But if you’re a big game hunter for golf and have the right connections, two top private clubs (Point O’ Woods and Lost Dunes) are just a pitching wedge away. Be sure to take an afternoon and visit the local beaches, enjoy some great food in the revitalized downtown area, and explore Makers Trail that features some of Michigan’s finest breweries, wineries and distilleries.
To schedule your own golf getaway to Harbor Shores, visit