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Best Golf Courses in Michigan

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Michigan, ranked 8th by Golf Advisor in their top ten list, is one of the best golf states to play in the U.S.. The Wolverine State counts with some incredible courses, where the best part is that anyone can play, something that makes it really attractive for everyone looking to hit some balls during their stay here. Arcadia Bluffs, Forest Dunes or Marquette Golf Club are top-notch locations which easily could be private due to its fantastic quality.

Here’s our top 10 list of best public courses to play in Michigan:

Best Golf Courses in Michigan

Rating: 5.0/5.0

Arcadia Bluffs stands out as one of the most iconic public golf courses in all the Midwest of the U.S., and is undoubtedly the most appealing one in all Michigan. Proof of this is the ranking it holds for some of the best golf magazines in America, such as Golf Digest, which ranks it the 13th best public course in the U.S., and 3rd best course in Michigan (including the private ones).

Located in the west side of the state, alongside the shoreline of Lake Michigan, this stunning course was designed in 1999 by Warren Henderson and Rick Smith, which made sure it had all the features of an authentic links style course: dune formations, terrific views to the lake and a rolling terrain with few trees, where wind can blow hard.

You can check the memorable 18 holes in its website, one by one. It is a tough choice, but the best one for us is the 11th: a downhill par 5 with a dogleg left which go narrow and narrow as you approach the green, which is protected by a bunker to its right. When reaching it, take a look at the panoramic views and give thanks for the privilege of being able to play in this stunning location!
Other great holes are the par 3 9th, the par 4 12th, or the other par 5 5th hole, all of them with incredible views and quite challenging.

The rates you can expect here are not crazy, but neither cheap, and vary greatly depending on the season you decide to go. For example, the cheapest months are October, November, and April, with a standard rate of $90. However, if you go from June to October, they ascend to $195. 

Rating: 4.9/5.0

There are people who puts Forest Dunes above the great Arcadia Bluffs, and this not crazy at all. This course has some characteristics which makes it a must-play for every golf lover. However, in our opinion it doesn’t reach Arcadia in terms of quality of the layout and its lack of elevation changes.
This course is in the little central city of Roscommon, in the Forest Dunes Resort which counts with other two 18-hole courses, and was designed by Tom Weiskopf in 2002. It has a great layout, with a lot of risk-rewarding holes and tons of pines coming into play in each one of them.

The best holes for us are the 9th and the 18th. The first one is a picturesque par 3 which plays over water to reach a green crazily protected by 5 bunkers, all of it with the added tension of the proximity of the clubhouse, with all the viewers checking at your performance. The closing hole is a par 5 with water on its left and bunkers on its right that makes this hole a great challenge, but also a risk rewarding opportunity to finish the round in a fantastic way.

It has some other great advantages, like its amenities. While this is a public course, the services are somehow similar to a private one, with some delightful dining service, amazing accommodations and an attentive and friendly staff.

About the prices, are similar to Arcadia Bluffs, ranging from $85 to $160 depending on the season.

Rating: 4.8/5.0

The city of Marquette is located on the shores of Lake Superior, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Here lies the Marquette Golf Club, which in 1926 opened with its first 9 holes course designed by William Langford and Theodore Moreau. It was not until 1969 that David Gill added the other 9 holes to the course, called The Heritage.

However, in 2005 opened the second course here, The Greywalls. This time, the designer was Mike DeVries, who made an exceptional job creating a golf course in quite a demanding site. As he explained, the most difficult thing was to create a challenging but yet solid golf experience, not too dramatic, in a location full of rock formations, wetlands and creeks. And he succeeded greatly.
This course offers great elevation changes and a big degree of challenge, which will test even the most skilful players. The fun starts at the first hole: a downhill par 5 to a turning fairway, ending with an undulated and rolling green where your accuracy will decide whether you start with a birdie or with a double bogey. After a par 3 and a couple of 4s you reach two consecutive magnificent holes: the 5th and the 6th. The 5th is a short par 4 that plays uphill and that can be really tricky for long hitters, as the fairways is narrower each time. The following 6th is a stunning par 3 that plays downhill from an elevated tee surrounded by rock formations. The views here are spectacular, and here you will understand the talent of DeVries.

Rates at Marquette are cheap for the Heritage (around $40), however, they know about the quality of the Greywalls course and this is reflected on the difference in its price: in spring season you can play a round for $100, while in the regular season it goes up to $145. 

Rating: 4.7/5.0

The Tullymore Resort counts with two beautifully crafted golf courses: Saint Ives and Tullymore. St. Ives opened in 1995 and was designed by Jerry Matthews, however, it will be its future sister who would grab the attention of the golf public since its opening in 2002.

The Tullymore course was designed by the great Jim Engh, known by its dramatic and challenging designs at the Rockies. However, this time the tough points of his design are neither the elevation changes, nor the panoramic views, as Tullymore has mainly a flat terrain of wetlands. Engh has created some unique golf course, with a grade of artistic design, featuring some zig zag fairways, the long and meandering bunkers, and some great green shapes.

It counts with many signature holes, but the best one can be the closing 18th: a beautiful short par 5 with a dogleg around a water hazard and some trees, but fair enough to finish the round the best way possible.

The drawback of this course is the lack of certain services, such as the GPS for yarding the track appropriately. Rates, however, are a bit cheaper than the previous courses, especially in peak season (ranging from $80 to $115). 

Rating: 4.6/5.0

Bay Harbor has an exceptional location, near the city of Petoskey, on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. If you see some pictures of the course, you will not be surprised that some people call it the Pebble Beach of the Midwest…

The moment you step into the club you already feel the first class feel of the resort. Here you can find three 9-hole courses, The Links, The Quarry and the Preserve, all of them designed by Arthur Hills. We finally decided to go with the first two for completing an 18-hole round.

The Links, as the name says it, is a classic links course that will make you feel the Scottish roots of this sport, offering the most picturesque holes of the resort. Its best hole may be 7th: a par 5 which plays on a cliff, with all the huge Lake Michigan to its right.

The name of the Quarry also gives you a hint about the second track. Actually, it was built on a rock pit, which gives the track a rugged terrain, and multiple rock canyons and formations which make it unique. There are a lot of great holes here, but our favourite is the par 3 8th (the 17th hole if playing it after the Links).

The bad news is that you can only play this courses if staying at the resort. 

Rating: 4.5/5.0

Black lake opened in 2000, and was designed by the renowned golf architect Rees Jones. Owned by the UAW (Union of Automobile Workers), this ecologically sustainable professional course counts with some great quality for really affordable rates, which range from $30 to $70 per round.

This track features some great doglegs, rolling fairways, elevation changes and around 60 strategic bunkers, some of them with incredible shapes. Each of the holes of this this track has its own strength and could be its signature. Check for example the 6th, a par 5 which starts from an elevated tee and ends up in a well-protected green, with some sand and water hazards.

Other great perks here are its great seclusion, making you be in complete harmony with Mother Nature without the distraction of houses and properties around you. An absolute must-visit!

Rating: 4.4/5.0

This traditional course was opened in 1927, and was designed by William Watson, and was renovated in 2017. With 18 holes, any of them will trick your eye, and its numerous cedar trees and creeks give this place a bucolic feel that never gets boring.

The best hole here, the par 5 9th, where choices will have to be made in order to reach the green without touching the bunkers guarding it. This hole represents the main feel of Belvedere Course: challenging, but fair with the golfer.

A round here cost around $79, adding up another $20 if you want to rent a cart.

Rating: 4.3/5.0

Located in the central city of Gaylord, Treetops Resort counts with 5 courses which offers 81 holes of possibilities, designed by architects such as Tom Fazio, Rick Smith, or Robert Trent Jones. From all of them, our best one is the 18-hole course designed by Rick Smith, conveniently called “The Signature”.

Opened in 1993, The Signature is quite fun to play, but it also can be frustrating at some points. There is risk/reward holes throughout the whole track, however, it can be very punishing. One example may be the par 3 11th: a narrow downhill shot where you accuracy will be tested hugely.

The amenities here, as you may imagine, are shared with the other 4 courses, so can be more crowded than usual. They count with a clunhouse, locker rooms, a restaurant and some big practice facilities. 

Rating: 4.2/5.0

The Shanty Creek Resort counts with four 18-hole courses: The Legend, designed by Arnold Palmer; Cedar River, by Tom Weiskopf; the Schuss Mountain, by Warner Bowen; and Summit, by William Diddel. From the four of them, our top one is the Weiskopf one, the Cedar River.

This beautiful course is perfectly crafted taking advantage of the natural rolling terrain, providing some fun and diverse possibilities on each hole. The best one, the closing 18th: a par 5 which ends in a green well-guarded by water to its right and five bunkers, while enjoying some stunning views of the clubhouse, with all the added tense of being watched by all the people in the restaurant.

The rates are also different, being this course the most expensive one: its price ranges from $70 to $109 on the weekends and from $50 to $80 on weekdays.

Rating: 4.1/5.0

This 18-hole course was designed by Chris Lutzke, disciple of the great Pete Dye. Most of the course is wide open, although it has some tree lined fairways, some artificial dunes and some ponds. It also offers a great variety of holes, with some dramatic elevation changes that make it really fun and challenging.

The signature hole can be the 3rd, a par 4 which plays with a pond and some dunes and which gives the player different possibilities for approaching the green. Apart from this one, the par 3s are terrific and challenging, being the 17th our favourite one.

The drawback of this course is that people say it is a bit overprice, with rates close to $100 per round. However, the conditions are great and you will not be disappointed!

Wrap up

As we have just seen, the public courses in Michigan are no joke, and they surpass in quality to lots of private tracks in the whole state.

Make sure of taking the clubs with you and compare the prices and qualities of the different courses. And let us know if you find some other course which deserve to be on the list!

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