When my best friend from college told me he was moving to Michigan after finishing medical school, my mouth dropped to the floor. I mean, I’d never been to Michigan myself but from everything I knew, the winters were brutally frigid and the mosquitoes in the summer were the size of birds. “Of all places, why Michigan?” I thought.
Sure, the state has some great hunting and fishing which I love, but this city slicker could care less about that. But that was that and before I knew it, I got a Christmas card from an address in Ann Arbor…
Every time I talked to Dan on the phone, he couldn’t shut up about what a great place Michigan was to live. The people, culture, things, to do, he just kept going on and on.
Eventually, he convinced me to make the trip out to visit he and his wife. I had only one condition, that we could play golf. And boy, was I in for a treat.
I’ve since been back a couple of times and the two of us have had the chance to play some of the state’s best courses. With his consultation, I’ve compiled a list of our ten favorite Michigan golf courses below.
Eagle Eye Golf Club
There’s no less than six courses to choose from on the property where Eagle Eye Golf Club is located. However, it’s hands down one of the best I’ve ever played.
This rolling links layout was designed by Chris Lutzke in consultation with Pete Dye.
Not for the faint of heart, the course demands the very best from every aspect of your game. True to form, Dye’s design features show up regularly in the form of water hazards flanked by railroad ties and more mounds and moguls than most ski resorts.
The course is always in excellent condition and a treat to play. If you don’t career it out here, don’t be surprised. Instead, come for the experience and you’ll have a great day.
Tullymore Course at Tullymore Golf Resort
Located in the town of Stanwood, the Tullymore Course at Tullymore Resort is always one of our favorites.
When it opened in 2002, Golf Digest named it the #1 New Upscale Public Course in America. It’s not hard to see why. The course is literally cut right of Michigan. Dense forests and expansive waterways frame this track that challenges both brains and braun.
Designed by Jim Engh, Tullymore features subtle undulations and greens that vary in size.
The finishing par five might be one of the best in all of Michigan. If you find the fairway with a solid drive, you’re left with the choice of trying to get home in two or laying up. A well-placed second shot to the right of the green will work toward the hole. By careful though, the green is shallow and if you hit it in the wrong spot, making par gets a lot harder.
The Ravines Golf Club
I always relish the chance to play a course designed by my favorite golfer of all-time – The King, Mr. Arnold Palmer.
That’s exactly what you’ll find at the Ravines. What’s even better is that this course is one heck of a great value.
The course is truly set amongst nature. Large trees line the fairways. Tremendous vistas of the surrounding countryside and bright blue skies are the norm here.
The layout is right in front of you but doesn’t lack in personality or uniqueness.
Located only 30 minutes from Grand Rapids, the Ravines is easily accessible, yet feels far enough away that you won’t be in a hurry to leave.
Gaylord Golf Club
Even though Gaylord Golf Club is semi-private, it’s easily accessible to the public.
Built in 1924, this track is classic old-style Midwest golf. Treelined, narrow fairways and small, undulating greens make Gaylord Golf Club a challenge for any level of player.
Speaking of the greens, they’re some of the fastest around. Just because you have a lot of short clubs into these holes, doesn’t mean you can just fire at every pin. If you miss the green on the short side, good luck getting up and down. Hit your approach above the hole? Buckle up.
Gaylord Golf Club is a thinking man’s golf course. Be smart and stay patient if you want to play well.
Gladstone Golf Club
Gladstone Golf Club is one of the most scenic courses on the Upper Peninsula. Surrounded by countless acres of State Forest with the Days River meandering through, your chances of seeing wildlife are better than average.
If you’re a straight hitter and have deft touch with the flat stick, Gladstone Golf Club is right up your alley.
I’ve been fortunate enough to play this course in the fall when the leaves are changing and let me tell you, it’s nothing short of spectacular.
If you happen to play on a Friday, be sure to stick around for the weekly fish fry. The fresh catch hits the spot and is the perfect way to cap off a memorable day out on the links.
The Medalist Golf Club
Located in South Central Michigan, the Medalist Golf Club is one my friend Dan swears by.
Carved out of 300 acres of natural wooded areas and wetlands, the property is home not just to great golf but deer, turkeys, fox, and sandhill cranes.
The course itself has played host to numerous prestigious tournaments including USGA qualifiers and Michigan State Amateur Championships.
Designed by native Michigander, Bill Newcomb, Medalist Golf Club is all about keeping your ball in play. Numerous doglegs, forced carries, and undulating greens put a premium on accuracy and course management.
I’ve still yet to make it out to play the Medalist but you can bet it’s on my short list.
Pilgrim’s Run Golf Club
Pilgrim’s Run is one of the premier public facilities in Western Michigan.
Built on an expansive 400 acres, the course features bent grass fairways and greens.
If you’re looking to sharpen your skills, be sure to get in touch with Jeffrey O’Malley. He’s of Michigan’s premier instructors and is sure you have your game back on track in no time.
When you play a round at Pilgrim’s Run, you’re in for a real treat. Take your time out here. Enjoy the tranquility and natural solitude.
A day at Pilgrim’s Run isn’t one you’ll soon forget.
Arthur Hills Course at Boyne Highlands
There’s no shortage of world class golf at Boyne Highlands Resort but, the Arthur Hills Course is in a league of its own.
Cut of hardwood forests, the Arthur Hills Course is nothing short of spectacular in the fall.
Wide fairways give you plenty of room off the tee but be aware, there are plenty of strategically placed bunkers waiting to swallow up wayward shots.
It’s a good idea to purchase a yardage book before you peg it at the Arthur Hills Course. Dramatic features, large greens, and elevation changes make choosing sites lines and picking the right club a challenge.
Forest Dunes Golf Course
Designed by Tom Weiskopf and opened in 2002, Forest Dunes Golf Course sits in the heart of the Huron National Forest.
Even though the design is a traditional parkland layout, there’s elements of risk and reward on almost every hole. For that reason alone, this track is flat out fun to play.
Some golfers say the back nine resembles Pine Valley because of its rugged bunkering and scrubby underbrush crossings.
The 17th hole is a particularly memorable drivable par four that measures just 302 yards. Laying up is the safe play on this hole but, if you do choose to have a rip, make sure to hit it straight as the fairway is bordered by fescue and sand dunes on either side.
When you’re done with your round, set aside time for a meal at Sangomore’s. The menu is impressive and the portions substantial.
Grandview Golf Club
Grandview Golf Club is iconic Michigan golf. Here, dramatic elevation changes keep you guessing the entire round.
True, fast greens make being below the hole paramount if you want to score well.
Arguably one of the best kept secrets in the state, Grandview Golf Club is revered by locals and enjoyed by visitors alike.
When you tee it up at Grandview, you won’t be greeted by an ostentatious clubhouse full of shiny trimmings. Instead, you’ll find a facility that has all the essentials and not much more.
Additionally, the staff will have an eager smile on their face and will proudly see to it that your day is enjoyable as possible.
For the longest time I thought Michigan was the furthest thing from a great golf state. With the help of a college friend, my eyes were quickly opened. I’m glad they were.
Even though the playing season throughout much of the state is relatively short, there’s no shortage of memorable golf to be found.
I can’t wait for my next trip and when you make plans for yours, you won’t be disappointed.