Golfing in Michigan – From Kalamazoo to the Upper Peninsula
As we inch towards springtime, golfers begin to get the inch to hit the links. As Michigan blossoms, so do the spectacular golf courses in the Wolverine State. Michigan Golfer Magazine is one place golfers can get information and stay informed.
We’ll begin with some information about Michigan’s best magazine for golf information and then talk about the Michigan PGA’s involvement. To finish, we’ll give you our take on seven excellent Michigan golf courses where we think you might enjoy setting a tee-time.
Michigan Golfer is a publication of Great Lakes Sports Publications. The earliest articles date back to 1983. For more than three decades, the magazine has covered engaging topics for Michigan golfers.
Articles have also focused on a number of subjects that affected golfers from around the world. There have been issues dedicated to particular golf courses within the state, plus special stories about prominent people in the world of golf.
The Michigan Golfer has a history of giving readers an opportunity to learn about intriguing things which affect Michigan golf. In 2001, the Michigan Golf Magazine supplied readers with an insight into how technology was changing the way golf is played.
They have featured stories about the golfers who have made monumental impacts on the world of golf, both internationally and in Michigan. There have also been back issues that have featured some of Michigan’s special golf courses.
One very interesting section is the history of Michigan Golf broken down into sections by decade. There is a detailed account of how golf has changed in the state since 1895. Other interesting features include stories about individuals who helped shape the history of Michigan golf.
Courses celebrating anniversaries have been a favorite. At Michigan Golfers Magazine, there have been announcements for the opening of new courses, plus featured Michigan Golf courses where PGA tournaments have been hosted.
Some memorable issues have included stories about golf legends such as Tom Bendelow, Golf’s Johnny Appleseed. Let’s look at the Michigan PGA and how it is an important part of golf all across the state.
The Michigan PGA
The Pro Golfers Association of America has a specific website for each US state. Michigan’s golfers can visit the website that targets golf in their state. The mission statement of the Michigan PGA is the same as it is nationwide.
They strive to provide essential services to its members and help grow the game of golf. Michigan PGA America was founded in 1922. There are over 800 members and associates statewide.
The members and associates make up golfers and golf course employees at nearly 400 Michigan golf facilities. The Michigan PGA blends the professional world of golf into the local golf communities.
Their goal is to infuse energy and enthusiasm for golf into each community that has a course. The Michigan PGA section is the 12th largest out of 41. One interesting point is that the Michigan section has the second highest number of golf courses.
The Michigan PGA works closely with the national governing PGA body, but is its own exclusive entity. A staff of volunteers makes the Michigan PGA board and various committees, which help to promote golf across the state.
Anyone can follow the steps to become a member of the Michigan PGA. There are minimal member service requirements that are available inside the membership information. Members can become associates and gain a number of privileges.
Each season, the Michigan PGA will host various events. These include education seminars scheduled throughout the calendar year. Each new season there is a spring meeting and seminar held at a Michigan golf facility.
The Michigan PGA has a concentrated interest in promoting golf for the state’s youth. There is a dedicated section that focuses on junior golf. It includes instructions on how Michigan’s young golfers can participate in a number of PGA sponsored events.
There is the popular Drive, Chip and Putt event, plus Junior PGA Championship qualifiers. Young golfers around the state can sign up to participate in PGA Junior Leagues. Michigan PGA also supplies novelty equipment for special youth events.
There are a number of entertaining things that local communities can reserve. These items help to make special youth-focused golf events more enticing to the young golfer. Finally, the Michigan PGA is the place to get information about PGA sponsored tournaments across the state.
You can find a list of all sectional tournaments, plus follow the leaderboard. There is a list of all PGA qualifying tournaments, plus the rules, regulations and guidelines for these events.
Golfers can see who the past winners were, plus find out which golfer earned the honor as Michigan’s player of the year. Now, let’s take a look at a select list of seven popular golf courses in Michigan.
Michigan’s Top 7 Golf Courses
As mentioned, Michigan has the second most golf courses listed on PGA America. An avid golfer could play a different course every day of the year and have a couple dozen still remaining. Here’s our take on Michigan’s top seven golf courses to get you started.
Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort
We’ll begin at the southern end of the state and work our way northward towards the Upper Peninsula. Kalamazoo is a part of Michigan with a number of outstanding golf courses. Many are not only beautiful and challenging, but they are affordable courses as well.
One favorite is the Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort. It is deemed the central golf attraction in the Kalamazoo area. It consists of six golf courses. There are the East and West courses, plus Stonehedge North and South. A fifth course is the Bedford Valley Golf Club.
Stoatin Brae is the jewel in the collection of 108 holes golfers can play at the Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort. Collectively, these are a group of the most beautiful golf courses in the Midwest. Each course is laid out through rolling hills, weaving in and out of wilderness settings.
Stonehedge South is one the most aesthetically spectacular courses in Michigan. The course is cut into the wilderness. Hand-built stone walls, which were once used as boarders by adjacent landowners between one another, now accent the fairways.
Instead of removing the walls, course designers built the fairways and greens around them. It presents a nostalgic aura for a course that is just over 20 years old. Each of the other courses has a similar type of feel.
Bedford Valley is the longest of the five. Players who frequent Bedford nickname it the Big Course for good reason. Beyond some beautiful and challenging golf courses, Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort has a few excellent perks for golfers.
Beside each of the East and West clubhouses, golfers can rent one of 67 fairway villas. These are small condos that provide the perfect solution for a weekend of golf. There are two world-class restaurants on property.
The primary clubhouse location of the Gull View Golf Club & Resort is at 7417 North 38th Street in Augusta. They offer daily packages for two golfers from $144. Of course, there are full week options and packages that include lodging at one of the villas.
Thousand Oaks Golf Club
Heading north out of Kalamazoo, we’ll head north to Grand Rapids. The Thousand Oaks Golf Club championship course is a signature design by Rees Jones. Its main clubhouse is located just outside Grand Rapids at 4000 Thousand Oaks Drive.
The championship course uses five tee markers to allow for a variety of golfer skill levels. Fairways cut majestically through the Michigan hillside. Gentle slopes lead to challenging greens, some strategically guarded by bunkers.
The Thousand Oaks Golf Club has a state-of-the-art practice facility that is part of their Golf Academy. There is a driving range with a pair of target greens. You can practice putting on a pristine putting surface.
Individual instruction is available for beginners to expert golfers. This is a perfect venue for more than just golf. The Thousand Oaks Golf Club clubhouse has five different room configurations for special events.
It is a spectacular setting for weddings and wedding receptions. The Reds is the five-star restaurant located at the club. It is a double-tier restaurant that overlooks the golf course. There are fire pits where guests can relax with a glass of wine or an after-dinner cup of coffee.
The Thousand Oaks Golf Club is a membership golf course. However, one membership will include the option to play four courses in the area. Memberships include discounts at location restaurants, plus nine Grand Rapids area Snap fitness centers.
They offer single, family and senior golfer membership choices. Junior golf packages are available for the young golfer. Thousand Oaks Golf Club members can become part of exciting leagues and join other special outings.
Willow Wood Golf Club
Next stop, we’ll head east out of Grand Rapid for East Lansing. The Willow Wood Golf Club is just on the eastern side of East Lansing. Willow Wood cuts through the rolling hills in Portland, Michigan.
It is a shorter course, just over 6,000 yards from the back tees. The course targets a quality short game as opposed to length. Designed by Jeff Gorney, Willow Wood opened in 1997.
It has bent grass fairways and greens. One of the best features of the course is the affordable tee times. For a course with manicured fairways and greens, the $20 greens fees are outstanding.
There is a 30 tee driving range for practice or warm up. The course rolls gently from one hole to the next, many of the fairways bordered by marsh flats rimming small water hazards.
There is a banquet room where you can hold any number of special events. The course is located just south of I-96 adjacent to the Portland State Game Area. As appealing as certain higher priced golf courses can be, Willow Wood offers an excellent round of golf for an affordable price.
University of Michigan Golf Course
Next stop, we’ll curve slightly down from East Lansing towards Ann Arbor. Our second on your list of top courses is one of Michigan’s oldest. On the campus of the University of Michigan is a course that has been challenging golfers since 1930.
This course was designed by one of golf’s legendary architects, Allister MacKenzie. The course was unofficially opened in the fall of 1930. With the official opening the following spring, the course was immediately proclaimed one best golf courses in America.
MacKenzie’s innovative course design is planted on this course. He blended American golf architecture with the aura of old-world courses such as Saint Andrews, Scotland. The University of Michigan Golf Course is one of only six MacKenzie designed courses in the United States.
Of course, one of his most famous designs is Augusta National. The course received a multi-million dollar renovation in 1994. Michigan graduate Arthur Hills guided the restoration, focusing on restoring the original MacKenzie grandeur, not in building a new design.
One of the key elements in the restoration was to restore the original bunkers. Golf cart paths were added, plus a number of practice greens and bunkers for the University of Michigan Golf Team.
The entrance to the spacious clubhouse is at 500 East Stadium Boulevard in Ann Arbor. Twelve Big 10 champions and the 1947 NCAA golf final have been held here. The course is open to the public with a number of affordable options.
Seniors are especially welcome, evidenced by a low green fee of $37. There are also reduced cart fares for seniors. The course offers a twilight special of $28 to walk, and $42 with cart. Youth rates are only $10, with club rentals available.
Traveling north on State Route 23, we head to our third popular golf course in Michigan. It is known as The Fortress. The Fortress is just under 7,000 yards long and cuts through a series of beautiful rolling hills.
It is an 18-hole public course with the main clubhouse at 950 Flint Street in Frankenmuth. It’s a bent grass course with a gentle slope of 138 degrees. Richard Nugent designed The Fortress, which opened in 1992.
The course is especially known for massive, forgiving greens. Each green averages over 7,000 square feet. While some have a distinct slope, most are large and relatively flat. Bunkers are strategically placed throughout the course, 75 in all.
The Fortress reflects much of the Scottish golf heritage in its design and layout. Nugent envisioned a challenging course that took advantage of the terrain. Fairways cut through Frankenmuth’s rolling hills, occasionally blocking a visual angle toward the hole.
Before heading out to play the Fortress, golfers can warm up using the practice facilities. There is a putting green with bunker, plus a target driving range. The Fortress is an affordable course, with peak season rates of $60 for 18 holes.
Weekend rates are slightly higher for 18 holes. One thing that golfers shouldn’t miss when the finish up their round is a trip to Zehnder’s Restaurant. The front porch as Zehnder’s is less than a quarter-mile from the first tee.
Forest Dunes Golf Club
Out of Saginaw, we’re going to head north on I-75 for Roscommon. In the heart of the Huron National Forest, we’ll find one of Michigan’s most stunning golf courses. The Forest Dunes Golf Club gives golfers that same natural aura of Augusta National.
Forest Dunes has glittering white sand dunes, using deposits from the nearby Au Sable River. The greens can be a real challenge, often using strategic pin placement to challenge golfers. Hole 16 presents a true challenge even for a par-3.
It is dubbed Hell’s Acre. The 16th hold at Forest Dunes Golf Club is twice the size of the famous Hell’s Half Acre at the famous Pine Valley Golf Course. Multiple times over the last decade, Forest Dunes has earned a top-100 ranking in America’s best golf courses.
The course earns its name combination. With a front nine that meanders through the woods, the course opens up into a back nine that carves its way across the dunes. Playing Forest Dunes is like playing two different style courses in the same 18 holes of golf.
Some refer to Forest Dunes as being in the middle of nowhere. Those who know the experience welcome the analogy. Guests can stay in a luxurious lodge less than 100-feet from the first tee. Collectively, there are three 18-courses located on the property.
Tom Weiskopf, former British Open Champion, designed the course. Weiskopf designed the course to weave through the landscape using the magical aura of a forgotten forest as its canvas.
The lodging and clubhouse are located on Forest Dune Drive in Roscommon. The green fees use a staggering scale depending on the month and weekday of your tee time. Peak rates are $160 for 18 holes. You can play repeat rounds or twilight tee offs for $65 during the off season.
Belvedere Golf Club
Our seventh course will take you as far north as you can travel on the mainland of the state. At the peak of Michigan is Charlevoix, a beautifully quaint town adjacent to the Gaylord State Forest.
Your travels will have taken you from Kalamazoo to the crest of Lake Michigan. Here you’ll find one of Northern Michigan’s most historic golf clubs. The Belvedere Golf Club has challenged golfers since 1925.
While it is a membership club, The Belvedere welcomes guest play during the season. The course has hosted the Michigan Amateur Championship 40 times across its legendary history.
You will play in the shadow of such legends as Jones, Hagen, Snead and Watson. The Belvedere Golf Club is the design of famous golf course architect William Watson. Watson used a minimalist concept when configuring the course inside a small plot of land.
It is a course that forgives those golfers who may lack length but doesn’t forgive a compromised short game. Fairways are manicured, but a rim of challenging rough borders them.
In lieu of membership, guests can play at the Belvedere Golf Club by paying standard green fees. In-season rates are slightly higher. From July 1 to Labor Day, green fees for 18 holes are $99, including cart.
You can elect to play only nine holes, plus there are also three-day and full week packages available for all three of the calendar periods, in-season, off-season and shoulder season.
Michigan is home to some of nature’s most breathtaking beauty. Nestled within the natural landscape of Michigan are some of the best golf courses in the nation. Check out the Michigan Golf Magazine to see if they’ve covered one of these top courses.
You can also become a member of the Michigan PGA to both support golf in the state and benefit from being a member of a national golf organization. No matter what level of golfer you are, load up your clubs and lace up your shoes to hit the links at one of these special Michigan golf courses.