I'm going off topic today to bring you the much anticipated yearly post on the best golf courses in Northern Michigan we all can play on. So that leaves out top rated courses like Crystal Downs and other private clubs.
The only other caveat to making the list is that I must have played the course. Which leaves out at least two contenders for sure: Black Lake and Tullymore.
- Arcadia Bluffs: (pictured above) Is frankly a no-brainer. This course is the Pebble Beach of the Midwest and has everything you want from a golf course: beauty, challenging design, wind, fog, short pins, and fast greens. This is a must play for the avid golfer. Just go and play it.
- Bay Harbor: The reason I picked Bay Harbor #2 is just the beauty of the place. I'm not a big fan of the Boyne Resort courses but this one is a step above. The views from this course is only rivaled by Arcadia Bluffs. A great design on a great plot of land. Stay at Boyne get a package and upgrade it to play this course. The rooms with the hot tubs are worth the extra cash.
- Forest Dunes: Has the fastest greens in Northern Michigan. They are US Open fast. It's a hidden gem but sort of freaky driving back into the course with all the tree's gone on the drive in. This course is in the middle of nowhere, so make sure you have enough gas and you don't book your second 18 of the day too close to the time you should finish. If your staying in Gaylord, this needs to be on your lineup. Bug Spray is a must!
- The Bear: You know the Bear has been one of the best courses in Northern Michigan for decades and still has the right to be on the list. If you can go shoot in the high 70's at the Bear with the wind blowing you have got game. It's a classic Nicklaus course and plays like it.
- The Jones at TreeTops: You won't see the Jones on many of these list anymore, like the Bear it's time on the top as come to an end with the other high profile courses in the area. But the Jones is a course you need to play if you haven't had the chance. Sure the other TreeTops courses maybe ranked higher but the Jones is a Classic. Make sure you tee off from the Blacks on #3 and take your camera for photo opportunity on #6.
- The Fazio at TreeTops: The perfect resort course. It has wide fairways and very well kept up. If your group is tired of playing Northern Michigan courses that are as tough as nails, take the Fazio for a spin and enjoy the ride.
- True North: A good course if you can find it. It's a newer design and has some nice holes. The only problem with it is, I saw a snake on No. 1 (and I hate snakes) and was pretty much done for the rest of the round. Also No. 18 is just a terrible design, a par 5 that you can hit two shots in the middle of the fairway and still not see the green. The circus nature of 18 makes this course barely on the list.
- Sundance at A-Ga-Ming Resort - This is a newer course and a nice design. It has some growing to do, but it's a good layout and a pretty good value. Play Sundance but skip the sister Torch Lake course next door.
- Three Tops at TreeTops - This course is ridiculously priced for a par 3 course, but it maybe the best par 3 course in the country. It's a great warm up round before playing another TreeTops North course. It's fun, so work out a deal and play it.
- Black Forrest - This is a difficult course and not maintained up to the standards it should be . If your looking to challenge your game, this is the course for you. Tied for No. 10 is Tribute-Otsego Club: This is a solid Gaylord course with a nice design. This is a good course, but not a "special one". If your doing a stay and play in Gaylord, put this one on your list.
Memo to Golfers heading North for the 4th
The courses in Northern Michigan are struggling, please support them or they won't make it to next year.
Take lots of bug spray. The bugs are bad this year.
Buy a package deal. These resorts are basically giving away the room if you play golf.
Courses that you should take a pass on
Lakewood Shores Gailes: Tried to make it Links style course with very little yardage markers.
The Chief: Tried to make a course as hard as possible. If you want an amusement park, go to Disney.
Pick your Boyne Courses wisely—there are decent ones and average ones at best.