Establishment Adds Disc Golf to their Facilities
Sunnybrook Golf Bowl Motel, Sterling Heights, Michigan
Sunnybrook Golf Bowl Motel’s history dates back to 1936 in Utica, Michigan when their 18 hole Donald Ross designed “ball” Golf Course was established. In 1962 an additional 9 hole course was built along with a 58 lane bowling & entertainment center. With its new found popularity, the owner at that time decided to build a motel adjacent to the establishment, which was completed in 1968. As Utica, Michigan changed into Sterling Heights, Michigan and the population grew, Sunnybrook maintained its popularity.
Through the 1970’s and the early 1980’s, Sunnybrook was the “go to” place to be and be seen. Great promotion, a clean center and atypical high scores in the bowling alley made Sunnybrook the true “showcase center” in the area. Hosting many Professional Bowlers Association events, up to and including the PBA National Championship (today known as the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour) just added to the mystique and aura of Sunnybrook.
1998 brought new ownership; Randy Shank along with his wife Cheryl & daughter Sarah took the helm with one goal in mind, “Make Sunnybrook even better than it was in the old days.” They spent many hours rebuilding, improving, and remodeling the entire establishment attempting to bring back many local sports enthusiasts. Over a million dollars was invested spanning the next decade and things began to take shape.
The Motor City Chain Gang (MCCG) was founded by Damon Evans (#5192), the late Gale Vaughn (#5515), Mark Bethel (#4813), and a few others in 1990. John Minicuci (#22116) of the MCCG approached Randy about using the banquet room during the late summer of 2010. The idea was to use the banquet room to putt around during the long winter season. The banquet room rests in between the two sided bowling alley and behind the center bar. At first the putting had no real direction but after 4 winters of tinkering and using games like horseshoes, it has evolved into this growing entity with no end in sight. The evolution of the format has been trying at times but the organizers continue to look for ways at making the night out enjoyable for most. Sunnybrook's weekly inside disc golf atmosphere is now growing towards 60 players a week and the players are enjoy the inside amenities (warmth, food, bar, big screen TV, and music). The disc golf games combined with the atmosphere makes it a night out that people look forward to each week.
The glass back wall of the banquet room overlooks the “ball” golf course and it wasn’t long after the putting started that negotiations began with Randy to utilize the property outside during the non “ball” golf season in Michigan for disc golf tournaments. The MCCG first ran an event on a temporary course in November of 2012. The temporary course was very long, it was very cold outside, and the tournament sold out in no time at all. Golf carts were used and a beer cart was busy all day. Then in April of 2011, the MCCG moved a PDGA B Tier to the course and the mystique of the course began to grow. The consistent numbers of disc golfers became a common discussion point between Randy and the MCCG. In the late summer of 2012 a proposal was made to install the course permanently and Randy quickly agreed. The temporary course could not be used however as it crossed fairways. A new 18 hole disc golf course was designed and after tinkering with a few tee pads locations and basket placements, the disc golf course opened a day before the 10th Annual Turkey Open held on November 5th, 2012.
Following the Turkey Open, which saw temperatures near the 40 degree range, Sunnybrook’s Disc Golf Course enjoyed many disc golfers coming to their establishment to play the course. The modest fee of $5 per 18 holes per player along with a cart rental fee is minimal considering the players get to enjoy disc golf outside while inside they have all of the amenities we could ask for. Inside restrooms, a well-stocked bar, excellent food, many TVs, and a staff that treats us like we belong are just a few more reasons that make Sunnybrook a wonderful place to visit. Oh yea, the course itself, it isn’t a pitch and putt style.Like any ball golf course with manicured fairways and little rough there are 2 baskets sitting on tree stumps, 3 hanging baskets, and 1 basket physically mounted inside of a tree. There is also plenty of water to maneuver around and other pin placements right on the edge of hills or near water making one think about laying up even from 25 feet out. The short tee pads measure over 8300 feet and the longs, well they are long measuring just under 12,000 feet. There are five holes over 800 feet and two of them are well over 1000 feet each. Even though this may seem long, many disc golfers have experimented with rolling a disc making their experience that much more enjoyable. The next weekend after the 2012 Turkey Open, Michigan was treated to its annual Indian Summer temperatures. Team Stony and MCCG ran its 10th Annual Stone Cold tournament and Sunnybrook experienced yet another issue with its disc golf course. 38 players came out for the tournament to play but so did many “ball” golfers who had waited patiently for one more nice day to hit the links. As they began to filter into the parking lot they were surprised to find that the parking lot was packed full of vehicles sporting disc golf stickers in the windows and all of the golf carts were already being utilized. After all, the course construction began long after the ball golf leagues ended for the summer. The tournament was just preparing to begin the Final 9 holes and after the first round players brought their bags with them into the clubhouse while tournament central realigned the scoreboard with first round results and 2nd round pairings. As this happened, ball golfers began to use the disc golf “front 9”. A brief discussion was held and the decision to move the Final 9 to the back 9 (holes 10 – 18) was made. This allowed Sunnybrook to accommodate many of the ball golfers trying to get that final round in of the year yet still allowed the 2nd round of the disc golf tournament to finish.
We cannot speak for the ball golfers just yet but the Metro Detroit disc golf community is sure enjoying its newest disc golf course. As disc golf at Sunnybrook continues to grow inside the putting / banquet room and outside on the “ball” / disc golf course, Randy has yet another issue he needs to address. Does he rename his establishment to Sunnybrook Ball / Disc Golf Bowl Motel?
Sunnybrook Golf Bowl Motel
7191 East 17 Mile Road
Sterling Heights, MI 48313
Phone – 586/264-2700
Fax – 586/264-0805