By Pat Maurer
If you are looking for some family fun to wind up the summer, Pleasant Meadows Family Recreation Center is just 12 miles from Clare, only 7 northwest of Farwell and has something for everyone.
Ken and Marilyn Vandrick started their dream “retirement business” after they retired from teaching careers. They might call it their “retirement,” but ever since they opened for business in 2005, they have been working pretty hard at developing and improving the “Mom and Pop” business.
Ken was a middle school teacher at Clare for 29 years. Marilyn worked with hearing impaired students at Clare-Gladwin Regional Education Service District from 1977 to 1985 and from 1993 to 2009. The couple married in 1979.
Pleasant Meadows does have a lot to show for all of their hard work. There is a Mini or Putter Golf Course complete with a gazebo and waterfall, all handicapped accessible. There’s the only disc golf course in the county; a par-3 per hole or par 27 overall nine hole course geared toward young golfers, retirees and families; and now a par 35 course which was completed just last summer for more serious golfers.
The Par-3 course is 1,215 yards and the new nine-hole course is nearly double that at 2,141 yards.
“Our business has its own niche,” said Ken. “We complement the other area golf courses rather than competing with them.” He added, “Our par-3 course is a great starter course to learn the game and we even allow children to accompany adults on that course.”
They have also recently added more golf carts for their customers’ convenience on the two courses.
Their disc golf course, played with discs similar to Frisbees, is unique in this area, Ken said. “There are courses and competitions all over the state, but none here,” he said. “The nearest was the former Holiday Greens in Mt. Pleasant, which is now owned by the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe and now operated mainly for business people as part of their casino activities.”
They may be retired from teaching, but maintaining the recreation facility is pretty much a full-time job all summer long. The business is open from May through late September or sometimes early October.
“Being a retired teacher and developing a family recreation center has given me a greater appreciation of all the work and expense that is involved in owning a golf course,” Ken said.
“It is a lot of work, but we love it,” Ken continued. The couple has also developed 15 of their 90 acres into improved one-acre lots for a subdivision adjacent to the golf courses and they are in the process of developing a game room in Pleasant Meadow’s clubhouse with ping pong, pool and arcade games.
“We keep trying to improve and expand our facility every year,” Ken said.
And there’s more fun activities coming at Pleasant Meadows. Outside they are in the process of adding Ladder Ball, croquet and horseshoes. Ladder Ball, a popular backyard game, is played with connected golf balls thrown for points at a “ladder” made of PVC pipe.
They have earned a lot of loyal customers. Scouts from Camp Rotary come to Pleasant Meadows regularly and area schools have used the center for field trips too. One group, local entertainers who are long-time customers, will be putting on a free promotional country music concert at Pleasant Meadows Saturday, August 24 at 4 p.m. “They just wanted to help us get the word out about the center. Everyone is invited to bring their lawn chairs and enjoy the music and we will have snacks and hot dogs on the grill available. “Come on out and check out our facilities!”
Pleasant Meadows offers memberships for individuals, couples and families. They are open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. weather permitting. The address is 6028 North Cadillac Drive, Lake (M-115). The phone number is 989-386-7233 and their website is www.pleasant-meadows.com.