For most of the past century, summer- time in northern Michigan’s Lower Peninsula meant wonderful adventures for fishermen, campers and boaters,
as well as seasonal visitors who flock to
postcard perfect Lake Michigan resort towns
like Harbor Springs, Petoskey, and Charlevoix. With 3,200 miles of shoreline, Michigan
also offers some wonderful beaches, and
perennial lures such as Sleeping Bear Dunes
National Lakeshore and Sand Point Beach at
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Then, in the 1980s, an explosion of resort
golf began that changed not only parts of
the landscape, but recast northern Michigan
as one of the nation’s premier but affordable golfing destinations. Some of the most
storied names in the game—Jack Nicklaus,
Arnold Palmer, Robert Trent Jones, Tom
Weiskopf, Tom Fazio and Tom Doak—have
created national award-winning courses here
for public play.
Many are at upscale year-round resorts
like Boyne’s Highlands, Mountain and Bay
Harbor facilities, Treetops in Gaylord, Shanty
Creek in Bellaire and the Grand Traverse Resort in Traverse City. But that doesn’t mean
you have to break the bank to stay and play
golf in the area. In July, for instance, Boyne,
the state’s top recreation company, offered a
night’s lodging, a round of golf on any of six
courses, complimentary range balls, and a $25
gaming voucher to a nearby casino for $81.
“Some of the best courses are ones that
are the least known,” said Nick Ficorelli,
a golf architecture buff who heads up
Despite its obscure setting
in the 40,000-acre Huron
National Forest, enough voters
in Golf World magazine’s 2010
Reader’s Choice Awards found
their way to Forest Dunes last
year and selected it as the top
public course in the country.
this page: despite its remote setting, troon's forest
dunes golf club was voted best public course in the
country in 2010 by readers of golfworld.
bay harbor •
traverse city •
• forest dunes
• boynes highland
• grand rapids
Golfweek magazine’s Midwest panel of
course raters and is an authority on the best
golf in the country.
Among the gems he said shouldn’t be
missed are the Troon-managed Forest
Dunes Golf Club in sparsely populated, rural
Roscommon County and Black Forest, a
Tom Doak original in Gaylord.
Despite its obscure setting in the 40,000-
acre Huron National Forest, enough voters in Golf World magazine’s 2010 Reader’s
Choice Awards found their way to Forest
Dunes last year and selected it as the top
public course in the country.
The first glimpse of the 15,000-square-foot
clubhouse, reminiscent of a great Adirondack lodge, the huge practice facility with
its two-and-a-half acre putting course, and
acres of natural sand dunes around the ninth
and 18th holes, tells a first-time visitor that
something special is happening here.
Very few inland courses can match the
natural beauty and immaculate condition of
this 7,141 yard layout that Weiskopf said is
one of his best designs. The dunes and vast
stretches of waste sand are integral features
of the risk-reward strategy Weiskopf worked
into his design.