Gather 'round, friends, for we have a story to tell. It starts with the granddaddy of Gaylord downhill skiing, Ouelette “Lin” Meade. Lin opened the Sylvan Knob Ski Area in 1954, sporting two tow ropes and six slopes, ranging from, “I suck” to, “Winter Olympics Champion.” The first lift tickets were sold a year later in 1955, for $3.00 a day or $5.25 for a weekend pass. Our rates are still set at about the same price today. We just moved the decimal a bit, no big deal.
After returning home from WWII, Al Wieland and his wife, Tanya, headed up to the ski school. He traded his fatigues for skis, and earned a professional ski instructor certificate. When 1982 arrived, Mr. Wieland left, leaving Sylvan Knob in the care of physician and ski instructor extraordinaire, Dr. Michael Samalik. A perfect combination for gapers and groms, who were most likely wiping out. The new ski run Treetops carved out in 2006 was named “Al’s Bypass,” as an ode to our buddy, Mr. Wieland.
The Crazy Idea
Meade eventually sold Sylvan Nob in 1983 to auto part mogul, Harry Melling of Melling Tool Company, who had a grand vision — Wait for it. A ski resort. Crazy, right? After expanding the now-resort with the 40-room Sylvan Inn, Haus Lounge, 140 lodging rooms, and more, Harry had another vision. This plan didn’t require a crystal ball either. Melling hired renowned golf course architect, Robert Trent Jones Sr., to birth the first course on the property.
On his first visit, Jones Sr. and Melling toured the property, stopping on a plateau overlooking the Pigeon River Valley, on what is now the sixth tee of the Masterpiece Course. Noting the treetops extending to the horizon, they had the genius idea to name Sylvan Nob something marginally better: Treetops Resort.
And the Rest is History
Literally. Treetops has been nationally recognized for decades — The first notable piece of publicity being ESPN’s Par-3 Shootout in 2001 on, you guessed it, Threetops. Lee Trevino took the trophy, one million dollars, and lots of bragging rights. Golf legends Jack Nicklaus, Ray Floyd, and Phil Mickelson weren’t too happy about losing though. Tough luck. From a 179-acre blip on the radar, to a 3,300-acre locale that hosts the 5 Wonders of Michigan, Treetops Resort has undeniable charm, and if you don’t agree, well, it’s okay to have wrong opinions.