Fred Benoit Sr. and Fred Benoit Jr. are now operating the semi-private Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., golf course, which is undergoing renovations and should be open by the end of the month. The pair is emphasizing the property’s restaurant, which will be open to the public and offer a farm-to-table menu.
With a mixture of optimism, hard work and a vision for the future, the Benoits believe they can restore the Sault Country Club in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., as a prominent destination for golfers and diners alike, the Sault Ste. Marie Evening News reported.
“We want to be positioned as one of the top semi-private golf clubs in northern Michigan,” said Fred Benoit Jr. with an eye looking five years into the future. “We’re not looking to sell.”
The second partner in the venture, Fred Benoit Sr., has a long business history in the Sault. He built Abner’s Restaurant with his brother, Bill, and also owned and operated Mr. B’s and the Robin’s Nest. While he does spend much of the winter season in Florida, he considers himself a local resident and has been a member of the club for 35 years, the News reported.
“We’d like to be open by the end of the month,” said Fred Sr. on Monday afternoon while renovations continued. “We hope there’s no hold-ups, but you never know.”
For Fred Jr., an avid golfer who has played at the collegiate level and continued to follow his passion throughout the country, returning home to run the 18-hole golf course appears to be a labor of love, the News reported.
“I grew up here,” he said. “I didn’t want to see it go downhill—I think it’s a key piece of this community.”
Fred Jr. said in recent years, the community pride in the course had evaporated, and the club, which had served the area since 1901, had fallen on hard times, the News reported.
“They didn’t have any money,” said Fred Jr. “Financially, they were in a bad place.”
While the new look inside the club should be the first thing most visitors will notice, Fred Jr. said the menu will also be different. “We want to have a farm-to-table approach for as many menu items as we can,” he said.
The dining room will not be just limited to the golf crowd, either, the Benoits insisted, the News reported.
“The restaurant is a big focus whether they golf or not,” said Fred Jr., noting the dining room provides one of the best views in town overlooking the St. Marys River where the upbound and downbound freighters pass on a daily, if not hourly, basis. “We want to have weddings in the dining room, reunions and banquets.”
While they aren’t ready today to host events, Fred Jr. believes the extra effort will be worthwhile, the News reported.
“We just want to transform the experience,” he said. “We want people to really want to come back.”