Northern Michigan's Newest Calorie Killer
9 Helpful / 2 Not
First on the list of Pros is a sense of accomplishment from completing this course. Playing the Blues, I put up a +21 first time playing, but came away from the course feeling great. Distance alone isn't the reason. Yes, although all 19 holes from the Blues clock in at almost 8000' with massive elevation, it is the technical aspects of the course that really add up to a sense of "mission accomplished", regardless of your score.
Flow. Although the front 9 are predominantly dogleg left holes, with more dogleg right holes on the back 9, the serious elevation mix keeps the flow of the course fresh and challenging. A nice mix of woods and field holes that favor tight shots. Lots of tees bracketed by trees and fairway lines that must be worked for success.
Bombs away!!! Finally a ski hill course that utilizes the full capability of the big slopes. Holes #6 & #13 blast down the back and front slopes of the hill respectively, and #5 is a loooong sludge up the hill. Beautiful vistas from the top of the hill are a well placed so you can enjoy the view as you catch your ragged breaths.
Independence from other activities. Trails abound here, especially on the front 9, and LOTS of other people are around hiking/jogging/walking the dog, but the course largely stays off the beaten path. Although you still must be mindful of the safety for these people, the danger factor to "civilians" is pretty low. Kudos to the designers.
Full-on exposure to Lake Michigan will make wind a massive factor here. Coupled with the elevation, the challenge level is rivaled only by Silver Mountain here in the North, IMO. (and Silver needs five additional holes to match it)
Rolling, rugged terrain. There are many steep slopes and crevasses that are utilized for game play. Baskets are rarely on even ground, and there are many spots where the ground slopes off into oblivion, giving otherwise vanilla drives and approaches a serious risk/reward factor. Even the holes that are mostly flat all have multiple undulations that make that extra 15-20 feet of distance you put on it the difference between a clear shot at a birdie and a pray for par.
Good parking, easy access outside of town, onsite port-o-potty, and little wasted movement on the course.
I will admit, I am being a little generous with my rating. This course has been in the ground barely a month, and I am giving the benefit of the doubt to things like the temporary signage and half finished tees, as the work is clearly not finished.
However, a few things stick out.
Although there are plenty of nice cement and framed gravel tees, there are a couple built of tees that are wood with carpeting on top. It was dry when I played, but these screamed danger to me in wet weather.
Copious stumps. If the work stops when the tees and permanent signage are in, my rating will drop. Many, many holes have stumps from the cutting done for the fairways. An ankle roll is easy without constant vigilance regarding where you step. If these are not all removed from the fairways, my rating will go down down down.
Dangerous access to some Am tees. There are many switchbacks to help you safely traverse the elevation in many spots, but clear access to some Am tees is lacking. I suggest you "take the long way" if you see a shortcut, because the slopes are steep and the dirt can be very loose.
Lackluster Am tees. The Red tees really offer little more than a shorter distance with the same look. I doubt I will throw from them unless forced to do so. If I am to hike this monster, I'm getting my money's worth.
Holes #8 & #12 especially need work. Fundamentally they are strong holes (esp. 8), but they are so rough around the edges that they really interfere with game play. #12 has no real gap at all to hit, and the turn on #8 is so sharp that even with par at 4 it is unreasonable. I am confident that a couple of seasons play and a session or two of trimming will take care of this.
Last few holes are really lackluster, and seem designed as more of a way to get you to your car, than presenting you with discreet challenges that are on the level of the rest of the course. That said, ignoring the rest of the course, they are still some pretty cool little holes.
No water hazards.
This course is so reminiscent of Hickory Hills (right down to the humdrum final holes) that I had to laugh. After all, if you are going to use a course as a template, might as well use one of the best in the area, right?
I grew up skiing this hill and sledding the area during my elementary school years, so my expectations were high and I was excited to see how they used the land available. I am glad to say I am pleased as punch. Many of the holes I thought of are there, and they found many more that I didn't even consider.
I recommend spotters on this course, as well as sturdy hiking boots and lots of water. Pack enough, because you won't see the car again until the end.
If traveling to the area, I suggest you hit this course in the AM, and then head over to dead-flat River Road for the afternoon round. In - that - order. Seriously, this course is a hike and a half. Although there isn't the massive sand you find on most other area hills, this round is a workout.
I tip my hat to Ric Evans and all the people who made this course happen, and I implore all you DGCRers to come and take your best shot at taking the North's newest gem.
9 of 11 people found this review helpful.
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