Request a Quote Shop Loading weather... Web Camera Icon. Snow Cam

Treetops Resort History

Treetops Resort History

Known in the early 1950’s as the “Father of downhill skiing in the greater Gaylord Area,” Ouellette “Lin” Meade developed and opened Sylvan Knob Ski Area on December 29, 1954. The ski area had two tow ropes, six slopes for novice to expert skiers, one “School Slope” for ski school participants, and Michigan’s very first Poma ski lift. The first lift tickets were sold on January 2, 1955 for $3.00 a day, or a weekend pass for $5.25. 

Along with six runs, the area included a small warming house with one bathroom. The ski school was conducted daily by Al and Tanya Wieland. Al Wieland had earned his national instructor certificate to become a professional ski instructor after returning home from World War II. He continued running Sylvan’s Ski School until 1982, when he finally retired and turned it over to local physician and long-time ski instructor Dr. Michael Samalik. When a new ski run was carved out in 2006, “Al’s Bypass,” was named after, and dedicated to, Mr. Wieland. 

When Harry Melling, owner of the successful automotive parts manufacturing business, Melling Tool Company, in Jackson, MI, purchased the 179-acre Sylvan Knob ski area in 1983, his original goal was for it to strictly be a ski resort. However, he began to see potential for a year-round resort in Sylvan Knob, and by 1984 Melling had expanded the ski terrain with nine more slopes, constructed a 40-room Sylvan Inn, added the Ale Haus Lounge, Nordic ski center, a convention center, and 140 more lodging rooms.

In 1985, Harry hired none other than the most influential golf course architect of the latter part of the 20th century, Robert Trent Jones Sr., to design the first golf course at his resort. Jones, having designed some 450 golf courses worldwide since the 1930’s, was more than capable. When he first walked the property that year with Melling, they came upon a piece of land overlooking the Pigeon River Valley on what is now known as the sixth tee of the Masterpiece Course. As they stood there, they commented on the tree tops stretching out as far as the eye could see. This moment ultimately led to the renaming of Sylvan Knob, to what we know today as Treetops Resort.

The Robert Trent Jones Sr. “Masterpiece” course opened in 1987, and shortly thereafter, the Tom Fazio “Premier” course, and Smith “Threetops” course both opened in 1992. The Smith “Signature” course opened in 1993, and the fifth course, Smith’s “Tradition,” opened in the fall of 1997. With national acclaim and resounding popularity and success, Harry Melling’s dream of building a golf course for every day of the week came closer to reality at Treetops. 

Additional recognition for Treetops soon followed with the popular, nationally televised ESPN Par-3 Shootout being unveiled in June 1999 on the Par-3 course, Threetops. Lee Janzen took the first trophy home after beating out golf legends Jack Nicklaus, Ray Floyd, and Phil Mickelson. This popular event became one of the most intimate golf tournaments to date, with the most memorable and lucrative shot taking place in 2001 when Lee Trevino made a hole-in-one on hole #7, “High Five,” earning him one million dollars for the ace. 

Across 3,300 acres of some of the most beautiful and pristine land that Northern Michigan has to offer, Treetops Resort continues to offer fantastic outdoor adventures for the entire family.

Make your summer sizzle with fun.

Plan your summer activities at Treetops Resort today.

Schedule Now