Best Golf Courses in Northern Michigan

Updated February 2024 to update booking information.

If you’ve lived in the state of Michigan, or have spent any significant amount of time here, you know the rivalry between those that live in the central and southern parts of the state, and those that live up north.  Especially on the Upper Peninsula.  These folks are affectionately called Yoopers.  They refer to their fellow citizens as trolls, because they live under the Mackinac Bridge (to the south).  If you want to know more about the inner workings of this relationship, I’ll leave it up to you to do some of your own research.  I don’t want to ruffle any feathers.

One thing I do know is that Northern Michigan is home to some great golf though.  Even though the playing season is short, people are diehard about the game they love so much. 

It’s with their help that we’ve compiled a guide of the best courses you can play.

1

Forest Dunes Golf Club

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Nestled within the Huron National Forest, Forest Dunes Golf Club offers a premier golfing escapade designed by Tom Weiskopf, featuring a unique combination of links-style and target golf with notoriously fast greens. This renowned course, located in Northern Michigan, is surrounded by rugged native dunes and water features, creating a picturesque and challenging landscape for golf lovers.

Forest Dunes Golf Club has garnered a stellar reputation, being rated as one of the best golf courses in the entire state of Michigan. The course’s design elements and its demanding yet rewarding layout have captured the attention of Golf Digest’s Course Ranking Panel, elevating it to the status of a premier golfing destination in the country.

The club’s allure doesn’t stop there. The addition of The Loop at Forest Dunes Golf Club, designed by Tom Doak, offers a groundbreaking reversible design, making it a truly distinctive and sought-after golfing destination. The combination of the main course and The Loop makes Forest Dunes Golf Club a must-visit for golfers seeking a unique and challenging experience.

Whether you’re a local resident or a visitor to Michigan, Forest Dunes Golf Club promises an unforgettable golfing journey that showcases the best of what the sport has to offer.

 

2

The Masterpiece Course at Treetops Resort

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Situated within the charming Treetops Resort, The Masterpiece Course offers golf enthusiasts a highly acclaimed and exciting experience in Northern Michigan. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., this course has been named the Second-Best Course in the Country by Golf Digest. The contoured fairways, spectacular terrain, and notoriously fast greens make it a must-visit destination for those seeking a top-notch golfing trip. From the highest point, golfers can enjoy panoramic views, including views of Lake Michigan, adding to the allure of this remarkable course.

The Masterpiece Course at Treetops Resort is part of the resort, which is home to 81 holes of championship golf, offering a wide variety of short and long holes. Whether you’re an experienced or a new player, this course provides a testing and enjoyable experience for all skill levels. With its reputation for excellence and stunning natural surroundings, it’s no wonder that Treetops Resort is a popular choice for a stay-and-play golf getaway.

Make sure to add this course to your bucket list if you’re seeking a true test of your golfing abilities in a breathtaking setting.

 

 

3

The Legend Course at Shanty Creek Resorts

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After experiencing the Masterpiece Course at Treetops Resort, golf enthusiasts can now turn their attention to the equally captivating Legend Course at Shanty Creek Resorts, designed by none other than Arnold Palmer.

Situated in the woods of Northern Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, The Legend Course offers a unique and memorable golfing experience. This par-72 course features a design variety that will test your skills, with risk and reward opportunities and spectacular views of Lake Bellaire and the coastline.

The narrow, tree-lined fairways and tricky green complexes provide a proper test for better players, while the par threes offer both beauty and challenge. Notoriously fast greens and strategically placed bunkers add to the excitement.

The Legend Course is perfect for a stay-and-play vacation, offering an enjoyable and challenging golfing experience. Golfers visiting Northern Michigan should consider adding this course to their must-play list for an unforgettable golfing adventure in Michigan.

 

   

4

Black Lake Golf Club

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Tucked away in the serene natural surroundings of Northern Michigan, Black Lake Golf Club, designed by Rees Jones, offers golfers a well-maintained layout and a relaxing atmosphere, making it a must-visit destination for an unforgettable golfing experience.

The club’s friendly service and abundant wildlife create a peaceful and inviting atmosphere.

Notoriously fast greens provide a challenging yet enjoyable experience for golfers of all levels.

The course’s dramatic elevation changes offer stunning views and a unique playing experience.

Black Lake Golf Club’s setting on a plateau overlooking Lake Michigan provides breathtaking vistas.

With its Green complexes, the course offers a test of skill and precision, making for an engaging round of golf.

You’ll find that Black Lake Golf Club is a hidden gem, offering a delightful blend of natural beauty and a well-designed course. Whether you’re a seasoned golfer seeking a challenge or a newcomer looking for a memorable experience, this club provides the perfect setting for an exceptional day on the greens.

5

The Bear Golf Course at Grand Traverse Resort

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Found in the tranquil panorama of Grand Traverse Resort, The Bear Golf Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, offers golfers a challenging and rewarding experience in a stunning natural setting.

This premier golf course is ranked as the 18th Toughest Course in America by Golf Digest, and for good reason. The course features tiered fairways, undulating greens, and penal pot bunkers, providing a stern test in a beautiful setting. You can expect notoriously fast greens that are always in great shape.

The Bear Golf Course is known for its exceptional golfing experience set amidst lakes, ponds, forests, streams, and fruit orchards. As you play, keep an eye out for the variety of wildlife that calls this course home. It’s a truly upscale public course that offers panoramic views and a challenging layout.

If you’re seeking the best in Northern Michigan, The Bear Golf Course at Grand Traverse Resort is a must-play for any golfer looking for an unforgettable round in a breathtaking setting.

6

The Heather Course at Boyne Highlands Resort

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The Heather Course at Boyne Highlands Resort offers golfers a classic and timeless layout designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., providing a challenging yet enjoyable experience with tree-lined fairways and slick greens. When you step onto the course, you’ll encounter a championship golf feel, with its well-maintained conditions and scenic beauty.

The Heather Course was named National Course of the Year in 2019, a testament to its exceptional playability and renowned reputation. As you navigate through the 18 holes, you’ll appreciate the thoughtful design and the attention to detail that Jones Sr. incorporated into the course.

The Boyne Highlands Resort, nestled in the beautiful Northern Michigan, provides a perfect backdrop for your golfing adventure. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned golfer, the Heather Course offers an unforgettable golfing experience that will challenge and delight you. It’s no wonder why this course is a must-visit for golf enthusiasts seeking mastery.

 

7

The Tribute Course at Otsego Resort

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Embrace the stunning vistas and challenging terrain of Northern Michigan’s The Tribute Course at Otsego Resort, a highly recommended golfing destination offering a memorable experience for players of all skill levels.

This course, designed by the renowned architect Tom Weiskopf, spans the Sturgeon River Valley and features dramatic elevation changes, forced carries, and tiered greens. The Tribute Course is known for its undulating putting surfaces, providing an exciting challenge for golfers.

It has gained a reputation as one of the Best New golf courses, drawing enthusiasts from Harbor Springs, Crystal Mountain, and beyond. The course’s layout and stunning natural surroundings make it a must-play for golfers visiting Northern Michigan.

Golfers of different abilities can enjoy the course, as it offers a mix of challenges and rewards, alongside friendly service and well-maintained grounds.

Whether you’re an experienced golfer seeking a new challenge or a novice looking to experience the beauty of the early 20th-century landscape, The Tribute Course at Otsego Resort has something special to offer.

8

Mountain Ridge Course at Crystal Mountain Resort

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Looking for a golfing experience that seamlessly blends natural beauty with an enjoyable challenge? The Mountain Ridge Course at Crystal Mountain Resort in Michigan offers just that. Here’s why you should consider teeing off at this remarkable golf course:

  • Immerse yourself in the stunning Northern Michigan forest surroundings.
  • Enjoy a user-friendly, mountain golf experience designed by renowned architect Jim Engh.
  • Take in the opportunity to spot native wildlife while playing a round.
  • Experience a course that caters to golfers of all skill levels, making it perfect for a relaxing resort round or a competitive game.
  • Appreciate the scenic vistas and picturesque setting as you navigate through the course’s engaging layout.

The Mountain Ridge Course, designed by Jim Engh and set amidst the natural beauty of Crystal Mountain Resort, offers an enjoyable and memorable golfing expedition. With its user-friendly design, varied sets of tees, and beautiful surroundings, this course is a must-visit for golf enthusiasts seeking a blend of natural beauty and enjoyable play.

9

Cedar River Course at Shanty Creek Resorts

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Set within the calming surroundings of Shanty Creek Resorts, the Cedar River Course offers golfers a classic Northwoods experience designed by Tom Weiskopf. This renowned golf course in Northern Michigan features narrow, tree-lined fairways and subtle, tricky green complexes, making it an ideal choice for golfers seeking a challenging and memorable round.

The Cedar River Course at Shanty Creek Resorts isn’t only celebrated for its Northwoods ambiance but also for the breathtaking views it offers. The layout of the course provides a perfect setting for a stay-and-play vacation, allowing golfers to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the Michigan landscape.

With deep pot bunkers and an island green, this public course is a must-visit for those looking to test their skills in a picturesque setting. When planning your golfing trip, consider adding the Cedar River Course to your itinerary for a true Northwoods golf experience in Michigan.

 

10

Tullymore Golf Course

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Tullymore was named the “#1 Upscale Public Course in America” by Golf Digest when it opened in 2002. 

Golfers of all skill levels revere Tullymore for it’s outstanding condition and it’s unique layout.  The course meanders through more than 800 acres of woods, meadows, and wetlands.  

The green complexes are some of the most diverse you’ll find anywhere too.  Some are small, while others are large and sloped. 

Another unique feature about Tullymore is the presence of five par threes, and five par fives.  These are the holes that can make or break your round.

Conclusion

Regardless of what side of the Mackinac Bridge you call home or decide to visit, one thing is certain:  there’s plenty of great golf to satisfy any appetite. 

Even though the playing season is condensed, golfers take full advantage during the warm months.  I recommend you do too.

To all of our readers that made this guide possible, I extend my sincerest thanks.  I couldn’t do it alone.

  

  

  

Paul Liberatore
Paul Liberatore

As the Founder of Golfers Authority Paul Liberatore Esq. has spent the last 7+ years writing about the best golf equipment or instruction from the top golf instructors in the world. He has been a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated Golf and GolfWRX. After graduating with honors from Purdue University, he realized that he had a passion for the golf business and the law. When he's not practicing law, or creating golf content on YouTube, he can be found on his syndicated Behind the Golf Brand podcast both on Apple and Spotify talking with the most prolific leaders in the golf industry. 

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