My summer goal is to blaze a new trail through Michigan's golf scene. What's yours?
I recently had a long-time golf industry expert call me “the most powerful golf writer in Michigan.”
Very flattering, yes, but it doesn’t mean much considering how few of us are left. It did get me thinking, though. How can I be considered an expert if I haven’t seen every Michigan golf course worth playing? How can I know every story that needs to be told if I haven’t met even one quarter of the state’s hundreds of PGA professionals?
Now that the Michigan golf season is officially open for business, I’ve set a new goal for the summer, to seek out places and people I’ve never seen before.
I’ve probably played more courses in Michigan than anybody except for maybe a few dozen old-timers. I’ve made a conscious effort to tee it up in every corner of this great state. By my count, I’ve played roughly 185 courses in Michigan, a fraction of its 800-plus courses. Regretfully, some of the best public courses have fallen through the cracks.
There’s a top tier of courses on the west side of the state I just haven’t gotten to, led by The Thoroughbred Golf Club at the Double JJ Resort in Rothbury; Pilgrim’s Run Golf Club in Pierson; Island Hills Golf Club in Centreville, the Ravines Golf Club in Saugatuck; The Meadows at Grand Valley State University in Allendale and the Macatawa Legends Golf & Country Club in Holland.
Whenever I visit Boyne country “Up North", I end up playing the Boyne USA Resort’s deep roster of courses, leaving out the Hidden River Golf & Casting Club in Brutus and the Little Traverse Bay Golf Club in Harbor Springs. The management of Hidden River has been taken over by Boyne since last year, so maybe that new relationship will finally open the opportunity to play there. I’ve only been to Charlevoix once - and that was with family in tow - so I haven’t seen either the Dunmaglas Golf Course or Charlevoix Country Club. The Hemlock Golf Club in Ludington has also escaped me, even though a good buddy (and former golfing rival) lives nearby.
And I’ve stayed at virtually every Michigan golf resort except Manistee National. Despite being Facebook buddies with head professional Doug Bell, I’ve not played its two courses, Cutter’s Ridge and Canthooke Valley.
I’ve always been intrigued by the five-star “places to play” rating Golf Digest readers have bestowed upon Timber Ridge Golf Club in East Lansing, despite the fact it gets almost no love from raters anywhere else. I’ll have to pass judgement for myself if I play it for the first time this summer. The island green of the Legacy Golf Club in Ottawa Lake continues to pique my interest as well.
Closer to home, I’ve written about - but never played - the Rackham Golf Course, a Donald Ross classic that’s barely hanging on as a municipal course in Huntington Woods. I haven’t returned to The Grande Golf Club near Jackson since rain cancelled the grand opening outing roughly a decade ago. I still remember sitting under a tent thinking how beautiful the bunkering was and feeling bummed that I wouldn’t get to play it.
I know I won’t get to every course on my ambitious wish list, but it’s always nice to dream.
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