Best Public Golf Courses in Western Michigan

Updated February 2024 to update booking information.

Maybe you’ve read some of our other course guides about golf in Michigan.  If so, you know that my best friend from college, Dan, lives in the wonderful community of Ann Arbor.  Every year, I make a trip out to see him and play some golf.  We try to visit a different region of the state every year.

Believe it or not, I just returned from my annual sojourn, and we tackled a few public tracks in Michigan’s western haunts. 

That’s why I felt it appropriate to come up with a course guide before the snow flies and snow mobiles replace golf carts.  I couldn’t do this all on my own, so I reached out to our readers like I always do. 

Below are the consensus picks.

1

The Crown Golf Club

The Crown Golf Club
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If you’re seeking a picturesque and bold golfing event, The Crown Golf Club in Traverse City offers rolling hills, wide fairways, and well-protected greens, making it an ideal destination for golf lovers. This golf course, located in Michigan, provides a stunning backdrop for a memorable round of golf.

The generous fairways and demanding greens create an exciting yet fair test for golfers of all skill levels. The well-maintained course not only offers beautiful views but also a variety of hole designs to keep the game interesting.

The Crown Golf Club is known for its friendly staff and excellent facilities, ensuring that your experience is as enjoyable as the course itself. Whether you’re a local resident or visiting from Grand Rapids, this golf course provides a challenging and rewarding golfing adventure in a scenic setting.

With its combination of natural beauty and thoughtful design, The Crown Golf Club is a must-visit for anyone looking to elevate their golf game while enjoying the serene surroundings of Traverse City.

2

Elmbrook Golf Course

Elmbrook Golf Course
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Nestled in the heart of Western Michigan, Elmbrook Golf Course offers an affordable and picturesque setting with stunning views of East and West Grand Traverse Bays, making it a top choice for golf fans seeking a well-maintained and enjoyable golfing event.

The course at Elmbrook Golf Course is well-known for its affordability and well-maintained conditions, making it an attractive choice for golf followers. Players appreciate the stunning views of East and West Grand Traverse Bays, creating an enjoyable adventure. It’s a popular choice due to its affordability, well-maintained course, and picturesque scenery.

Elmbrook Golf Course provides a great opportunity for a memorable round of golf. The combination of affordability, well-maintained course, and breathtaking views makes it a standout destination for golfers. If you’re looking for an exceptional golfing encounter in West Michigan with stunning views of Grand Traverse Bays, Elmbrook Golf Course is a must-visit.

3

Shanty Creek Resort – Cedar River Course

Shanty Creek Resort – Cedar River Course
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Elmbrook Golf Course offers an affordable and picturesque setting with stunning views of East and West Grand Traverse Bays.

Just a short drive away, the Shanty Creek Resort Cedar River Course awaits with its bold layout and breathtaking views of Lake Bellaire. Designed by Tom Weiskopf, the Cedar River Course at Shanty Creek Resort demands precision off the tee and offers exceptional greens, providing a top-notch golfing experience.

This course emphasizes strategic play, requiring precise ball striking amidst its picturesque location. The demanding yet rewarding layout is complemented by the resort’s excellent amenities, making it a must-visit for golf enthusiasts.

The Cedar River Course is renowned for its stunning views of Lake Bellaire, adding to the allure of this golfing gem. Whether you’re a skillful player seeking a new challenge or a casual golfer looking for a memorable round, Shanty Creek Resort’s Cedar River Course promises an unforgettable golfing event.

With its combination of natural beauty and demanding play, this course is a standout destination for golfers seeking an exceptional round in a breathtaking setting.

4

Shanty Creek Resort – The Legend Course

Shanty Creek Resort – The Legend Course
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The Legend Course at Shanty Creek Resort offers golfers a demanding yet rewarding adventure, showcasing breathtaking views of Lake Bellaire and demanding precise ball striking on its top-notch greens designed by Arnold Palmer.

Here’s what you can expect at the Legend Course:

  • Demanding Layout: The course’s layout demands accuracy off the tee, challenging golfers to bring their A-game to navigate the fairways and greens effectively.
  • Strategic Challenges: The Legend Course offers a mix of strategic challenges, including doglegs, bunkers, and water hazards that keep the game interesting and engaging.
  • Natural Beauty: The Legend Course provides more than just a golfing experience; it showcases the stunning natural beauty of Northern Michigan, with panoramic views of Lake Bellaire that add an extra layer of enjoyment to your round.

The Legend Course at Shanty Creek Resort is truly a gem, where the golfing challenge is complemented by the beauty of its surroundings. It’s a must-play for golf fans seeking a memorable and rewarding golfing event in Northern Michigan.

5

Gull Lake View – Stoatin Brae Course

Gull Lake View – Stoatin Brae Course
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Golfers seeking a bold and unique golfing adventure in Western Michigan will find the Gull Lake View Stoatin Brae Course to be a test of precision and strategic shot-making due to its emphasis on solid ball striking. Located in West Olive, this course offers a wide-open and windswept layout, providing an exceptional design that emphasizes the need for precise shot execution.

The Stoatin Brae Course at Gull Lake View is known for its unique and memorable layout, which presents a challenging yet rewarding event for golfers of all levels. The course’s emphasis on solid ball striking makes it an ideal choice for those looking to hone their skills and take on a new golfing challenge.

Golfers will appreciate the opportunity to test their abilities on a course that demands strategic thinking and precision in every shot. The wide-open terrain and unique design of Gull Lake View Stoatin Brae Course make it a standout destination for those seeking a memorable and demanding round of golf.

Whether you’re a trained golfer or looking to improve your game, this course offers an experience that’s sure to leave a lasting impression.

6

The Golf Club at Harbor Shores

The Golf Club at Harbor Shores
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Located along the picturesque shores of Lake Michigan, the Golf Club at Harbor Shores beckons golf lovers with its championship-level conditions and stunning views, offering a seamless transition from the bold precision of the Gull Lake View Stoatin Brae Course to a new, equally rewarding golfing adventure.

Designed by Jack Nicklaus, the Golf Club at Harbor Shores hosts the Senior PGA Championship, providing a demanding yet rewarding event

for golfers. The strategic course design takes advantage of the beautiful Lake Michigan, offering stunning views and a unique golfing environment. The course presents a mix of challenging holes and birdie opportunities, catering to a wide range of golfers and making it a well-rounded experience.

The Golf Club at Harbor Shores is renowned for its championship-level conditions and world-class practice facilities, attracting golf enthusiasts and professionals seeking a premier golf encounter. It’s an ideal destination for those desiring high-quality play while enjoying the natural beauty of Lake Michigan.

Whether you’re a trained golfer or a newcomer to the game, Harbor Shores promises an unforgettable and fulfilling golfing adventure.

7

Macatawa Golf Club

Macatawa Golf Club
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Tucked alongside the shores of Lake Michigan, Macatawa Golf Club invites you to experience its wide-open layout and world-class practice facilities for a picturesque and enjoyable golfing adventure. This golf course is grand in its design and offers an exceptional event

for golfers of all levels. The club’s stunning location on Lake Michigan provides a scenic backdrop for an unforgettable round of golf.

Macatawa Golf Club is highly recommended for its visually stunning layout and top-notch practice facilities. The wide-open design of the course allows for a pleasurable and demanding game, while the practice facilities offer ample opportunities to hone your skills. Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or just starting out, this club provides an inviting and accommodating atmosphere.

For those seeking a high-quality and visually stunning golf course in Western Michigan, Macatawa Golf Club is a top recommendation. The club’s picturesque setting, wide-open layout, and world-class practice facilities make it a must-visit destination for any golf enthusiast.

8

Pilgrim’s Run Golf Club

Pilgrims Run Golf Club
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We don’t have enough room to list all the accolades and awards Pilgrim’s Run has received.  Suffice it to say this is one of the finest upscale daily fee facilities in all of Michigan.

Dan and I played here near the end of our trip, and we may have well saved the best for last. 

Set on more than 400 acres, you’ll feel far away from civilization on this track that wanders through a majestic forest. 

One thing we both appreciated about this course was the bunkering.  While some bunkers come into play and can prove penal, others are situated in ways that frame the hole and guide you where you’re supposed to hit it. 

The greens are pure too.  If you get the speed dialed in, you can have a banner day.

You can bet, I’ll be back to Pilgrim’s Run again.

9

Bucks Run Golf Club

Bucks Run Golf Club
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Mt. Pleasant, Michigan is quite the spot.  Dan has vacationed here with his family and had high remarks for Bucks Run.  So much so that he wanted me to see it with my own eyes. 

Set on more than 290 acres, this is a big golf course.  The greens, features, and hazards are sizable.  There’s just no other way to put it. 

With Mount Pleasant in the background, the course meanders through natural wetlands and wooded areas.  Shimmering lakes are beautiful as well, but also present a real challenge. 

The bent grass playing surfaces are some of the very best I’ve ever played on.  There’s not a blade of grass out of place on the entire property. 

The Putting Island was a kick in the pants too.  Set in the middle of a lake, this 18-hole putting course features rough, bunkers, and some crazy holes.  Dan had played it before, so he had to give me a couple of shots.  He still won.  I won’t get hustled like that again any time soon.

A wonderful property that we both can’t wait to get back to, play Bucks Run if you have the chance.

10

Indian Trails Golf Course

Indian Trails Golf Course
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We didn’t have a chance to get to Indian Trails in the city of Grand Rapids, but our readers insisted this place is a hidden gem. 

This isn’t a long golf course, but it’s the perfect place if you’re a beginner, or just want to play a casual round with the family.  It’s less than 5,000 yards and plays to a par of 65. 

This course is right in front of you.  No blind shots and not many doglegs.  Bunkers and hazards are few and far between. 

The dress code is laxed here to.  Come as you are and enjoy yourself.  That’s what the game is all about at the end of the day.

Conclusion

When Dan moved to Michigan right after college, I thought he was crazy.  I knew the hunting and fishing were world-class, but those pursuits don’t interest him.  I also knew that the winters were cold and long, and that the mosquitoes were the size of birds in the summer.

That was then and this is now.  Having been to Michigan a number of times since then, I’ve fallen in love myself.  Am I about to move there full-time?  No.  The winters in Scottsdale are pretty wonderful.  However, the people are as nice as you’ll find anywhere and there’s no shortage of top-notch golf to be found.

Thank you to Dan for having me out, and of course to all our readers that contributed their thoughts to make this guide possible.  If you have more you’d like to add, we’d love to hear from you in the comments.

 

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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