Updated February 2024 to update booking information.
For the last few years, I’ve made the trip from my home in Arizona to Michigan to play golf with one of my best friends from college, Dan. Each year, we sample the golf in a different region of the state. Our latest venture was to Southwest Michigan. As we expected, the golf was superb.
Along with the help of our northern brethren, I’ve compiled a list of the ten best public courses anyone can play.
Harbor Shores Golf Club
Nestled in the picturesque landscape of Southwest Michigan, Harbor Shores Golf Club beckons golf enthusiasts with its stunning design and challenging layout. Designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus, this course has hosted the Senior PGA Championship multiple times, solidifying its reputation as a top-tier golf destination.
With a seamless blend of inland and dunes holes, along with the scenic backdrop of Lake Michigan, Harbor Shores offers a truly unique golfing experience. The course’s strategic layout, featuring the Paw Paw River and wetlands, rewards precision and accuracy, especially with its small, sloped greens. Notably, it emphasizes shot placement, making it a must-play for fans of Arnold Palmer’s designs.
Additionally, Harbor Shores Golf Club is renowned for its fun and challenging layout, perfect for friendly wagers and enjoyable rounds. For golf enthusiasts seeking more from Jack Nicklaus designs, the adjacent American Dunes Golf, designed by Jack Nicklaus and decorated war hero Dan Rooney, and Pilgrims Run, are also within easy reach.
Harbor Shores Golf Club stands as a testament to the beauty and allure of public golf courses in Southwest Michigan.
Pine View Golf Course
With its fun and challenging layout, Pine View Golf Course in Ypsilanti beckons golf enthusiasts to test their skills on its wide fairways and undulating greens. This course offers a unique blend of inland and dunes holes, providing a memorable golfing experience. The front nine features expansive fairways and large, undulating greens, while the back nine presents a more challenging landscape with narrow fairways lined by White Pines.
Situated near the Paw Paw River and wetlands, the course harmoniously integrates with its natural surroundings. Pine View Golf Course promises a diverse and enjoyable round of golf, appealing to players of varying skill levels.
If you’re seeking a distinct golfing adventure in Michigan, Pine View Golf Course is a must-visit. Whether you’re navigating wide fairways or maneuvering through the White Pine-lined back nine, this course guarantees an engaging and rewarding experience. The combination of its scenic setting, challenging layout, and diverse hole designs makes Pine View Golf Course a standout destination for golf enthusiasts.
Paw Paw Lake Golf Club
Perched on the shores of Paw Paw Lake, Paw Paw Lake Golf Club beckons golfers with its classic, old-school design that emphasizes precision and rewards savvy course management. This family-owned gem in West Michigan offers a picturesque setting with stunning views of Paw Paw Lake and the surrounding hills.
The course’s small greens demand accuracy, making it a true test of skill for golfers. The club prides itself on providing excellent service, ensuring a memorable experience for all players. After a challenging round, golfers can unwind at the Gazebo and take in the beautiful views of Paw Paw Lake.
Tee times at Paw Paw Lake Golf Club are highly sought after, so be sure to plan ahead. With its strategic layout and scenic beauty, this course is a must-visit for those seeking a classic golfing experience in Southwest Michigan. Whether you’re a local enthusiast or visiting from afar, Paw Paw Lake Golf Club promises an enjoyable and rewarding day on the links.
Brookswood Golf Course
Just off the heels of the classic and precise design of Paw Paw Lake Golf Club, Brookswood Golf Course beckons with its own unique charm and challenge in Southwest Michigan. Founded in 1965 by Joe and Maxine Hess, this course emphasizes shot placement and rewards accuracy and course management.
The layout of the course requires precision and strategic play, making it a must-visit for golf enthusiasts. Brookswood Golf Course is known for its tough, sloped greens and is full of character and charm, offering a beautiful and memorable round of golf. Here’s what makes Brookswood Golf Course stand out:
- Founded in 1965 by Joe and Maxine Hess
- Emphasizes shot placement and precision
- Known for tough, sloped greens
- Rewards accuracy and course management
Brookswood Golf Course provides an upscale public golfing experience that shouldn’t be missed. With its rolling hills and challenging layout, it offers a unique and memorable golfing experience in Southwest Michigan. Whether you’re a local looking for tee times or a visitor exploring new golf courses, Brookswood Golf Course is one not to be missed in the region.
Lake Cora Hills Golf Course
Tradition meets modern at Lake Cora Hills. The layout is traditional in the sense that the greens are small, and the fairways narrow. However, ample opportunities for risk and reward make Lake Cora a blast to play in a modern sense.
On the front nine, you’ll find a couple drivable par fours. If you’re feeling adventurous, taking the big stick from the tee might give you a good look at eagle or birdie. But if you don’t execute, double bogey is a possibility.
The back nine features some significant elevation change. This is especially true on a number of holes where the tee boxes are set well above the fairways. A couple of par fives can be exciting too. There’s always an option to play safe. But if you want, you can try to get home in two with daring shots over water to greens that are well protected.
Dan and I always have something on the line, and this course is the perfect place for a wager. But don’t take our word for it, come see for yourself.
Stoatin Brae Golf Club
What I like most about golf in Michigan is the variety of courses anyone can play.
While the Southwest part of the state is littered with outstanding traditional layouts, modern designs like Stoatin Brae are a breath of fresh air.
This is a wide-open windswept American links design. You won’t find many trees here. Playing the ball along the ground is often the way to go.
Set on one of the highest points in Kalamazoo County, the views here are just as impressive as the course itself. Stay focused though.
Even though the fairways are generous, the contours on and around the greens are where the fun begins. Be ready to think outside the box and play some different shots.
Always in pristine condition and fun to play, it’s no wonder Stoatin Brae is considered one of the premier courses in all of Michigan.
Pilgrim’s Run Golf Club
For an upscale public round of golf, look no further than Pilgrim’s Run in the community of Pierson.
Occupying more than 400 acres, this course boasts a wide variety of holes that keep you on your toes the whole way around.
The conditions are top-notch as well. Bent grass is the turf of choice from the tees through the greens. No bad lies in the fairways and putts roll as pure as the snow that blankets the course in the winter.
Peaceful is just one of the words golfers use to describe Pilgrim’s Run. Lack of houses and commercialization make for a quiet round that’s both fun and challenging.
The Pines Golf Course
The Pines is a hidden gem that Dan and I play whenever I’m in town. It’s located in the suburb of Wyoming.
Another traditional design, driving it long isn’t as important as keeping it in play. Maybe that’s why Dan always seems to clean my clock here.
The fairways are lined by mature White Pines. Ending up amongst them will put you on the fast track to a bogey. I speak from experience.
If you get it going with your short irons, you can score though. The course isn’t long and can be had if you keep it in play.
Affordable golf and a one-of-a-kind experience can be found at The Pines. I can’t wait to get back for revenge.
Lake Doster Golf Club
Lake Doster has been called “One of the Top 25 Courses in Michigan” for years. It comes as no surprise.
While this track might not seem too tough on paper, everyone agrees that it’s deceivingly difficult.
After all, it’s home to the “Little Monster.” We’re talking about arguably the toughest par three in the state. The tee box is set high above a treacherous green that’s surrounded by penal bunkers, trees, and water. From the white tees, this hole only measures 88 yards. But there’s nowhere to miss, so you’d best step up and hit a golf shot.
Lake Doster is target golf. Water can be found throughout and it’s clear on every hole that playing from one point to another is the way to score.
Dan and I haven’t played here yet, but you can bet we’re putting it on our list.
Ravines Golf Club
I’ve played the Ravines a couple of times. There was no way I was going to miss this track when I first heard about it – it was designed by my hero, Arnold Palmer.
A magnificent setting, exceptional service, and great value are the hallmarks of this experience.
When you play at Ravines, you’ll feel at one with nature. Native surroundings are varied and are perfectly accented by bright blue skies.
The King designed this course just like he played, plenty of opportunity for risk and reward. Choose wisely.
After your round, settle in for a drink in Arnie’s Cottage. The panorama of the 18th hole makes for an idyllic setting.
I’m like a kid on Christmas every time I get ready to see Dan in Michigan. We have a great time together, and the golf is both top-notch and affordable. It’s not hard to see why Dan calls Anne Arbor home and loves to play golf.
Even though the season is a lot shorter than in my hometown of Phoenix, I get why people call this place home.
Thanks to our Michigan readers that contributed their thoughts to help shape this course guide.
If there’s more you’d like to add, drop us a line in the comments.