Top 5 public courses in Michigan

By Chris LewisAugust 4, 2008, 4:00 pm

Michigan is renowned in the world of golf for two very distinct reasons: A short golf season due to long, brutal winters and also some of the finest golf courses in the world. Michigan will be the center of attention in golf this week when it hosts the 90th PGA Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills. Unfortunately for those hoping to play this historic track, Oakland Hills is one of over 100 private clubs in the state. However, for Michigan visitors and for golfers hoping to not spend a small fortune, there is a wide variety of public courses to choose from in the Great Lakes State.
With literally hundreds of public courses to choose from, the decision of which courses to play can become rather challenging. Price, level of difficulty, scenery, course condition and slope rating are all factors in your choice of courses to play. That's why is here to help. We found five courses you should consider whether you are a life-long Michigan citizen or visiting for the first time. The following five public courses are among those known for their natural beauty, fair pricing, course architecture and challenging holes.

No. 5
Eagle Eye
Eagle Eye Golf Club
Bath, Mich.

Price: Eagle Eye is an attraction in Michigan for its fair prices, as the cost of 18 holes with a cart ranges from $33 to $89, depending on the day and season. The course also offers a 36-hole special - 18 holes at Eagle Eye and 18 holes at Hawks Hollow, a course next to Eagle Eye.
Designer: Chris Lutzke is known for his work with Pete Dye on courses such as Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, Crooked Stick in Indiana and the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island in South Carolina, along with his design of Eagle Eye.
Awards: Golf Digest rated Eagle Eye the fifth-best new course in America in 2005. Michigan Golfer magazine rated it the fourth-best course in the state in 2006.
Level of Difficulty: With a slope of 147 and a course rating of 75.4, Eagle Eye measures 7,318 yards from the back tees and is known for providing a true challenge to golfers of all skill levels with its numerous water hazards and sand bunkers, large, true-rolling greens and fescue mounding.
Overall: With its opening in 2003, Eagle Eye Golf Club joined the list of impressive public courses in Michigan. Eagle Eye is renowned for its replica of TPC Sawgrass' island green 17th hole. Eagle Eye also provides access to its driving range for all golfers for no extra charge. Guests of Eagle Eye enjoy the courses popular clubhouse with a full-service pro shop and high-end restaurant.

No. 4
Bay Harbor
Bay Harbor - The Links
Bay Harbor, Mich.
Price: Bay Harbor - The Links, one of three nine-hole championship courses on the property, along with The Quarry and The Preserve, charges $99 to $199 for 18 holes with a cart, depending on the season.
Designer: All three championship courses were designed by Arthur Hills, who also has LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Mirasol Golf and Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., on his resume.
Awards: Golf Magazine has ranked The Links as high as number eight on the Top 100 Courses of America list. The Links signature seventh hole has been ranked as one of the Top 500 golf holes in the world by Golf Magazine as well. Golfweek magazine has said the following: Bay Harbor Golf Club is one of the most picturesque golf sites in the countryit may well be Americas most diverse collection of holes.
Level of Difficulty: The Links winds along 150-foot bluffs overlooking Little Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan, one of the largest lakes in the world. While it is beloved for its scenic views, it is also respected for the challenge it presents to every golfer with its 141 slope and 36.2 course rating on 3,432 yards.
Overall: Built in 1997, The Links is known for its natural beauty. The course provides its guests with the Prolink Satellite Yardage System, an on-cart monitor which provides a graphic of each hole and yardage to the pin within two yards. Caddies are also available as walking caddies ($35 per person per 18 holes) or as forecaddies ($15 per person). If you are visiting northern Lower Peninsula, pay a visit to Bay Harbors The Links to play a classic seaside links-style course that's thousands of miles from Europe.

No. 3
TimberStone Golf Course
Iron Mountain, Mich.
Price: Given the overall quality of the course, TimberStone Golf Course provides its guests with some of the most affordable prices that can be found in golf today. With a golf season lasting from the middle of May to the end of October, prices range from $35 to $79 for 18 holes with a golf cart.
Designer: Jerry Matthews is well-known for his Michigan-area course designs, from Twin Lakes Golf Club in Rochester Hills to Hawk Hollow in Bath. Most of Matthews projects are known not only for their natural settings, but also for their fair prices. TimberStone is no exception.
Awards: Back in 2005, Golf Digest subscribers rated the course five stars, one of only 16 of 3,500 rated courses to receive such a distinction. Most importantly though, TimberStone was the only Michigan-rated course to receive five stars. In 2004 the Michigan Golf Course Owners Association named TimberStone as the Michigan Course of the Year.
Level of Difficulty: TimberStone has a 75.0 course rating and a 148 slope, proving just how difficult the course can play. The back tees measure just over 6,900 yards.
Overall: Known around Michigan for its pristine conditions, TimberStone Golf Course opened in 1996. The course is located in Michigans Upper Peninsula at the Pine Mountain Resort. Golfers can enjoy a Stay and Play package which includes lodging at Pine Mountain Resort, access to practice facilities, and, of course, one or more rounds of golf. With its affordable prices, five-star rating and natural settings, TimberStone should be on your list the next time you visit Michigans Upper Peninsula.

No. 2
Forest Dunes
Forest Dunes Golf Club
Roscommon, Mich.
Price: During the summer, from Wednesday through Sunday, 18 holes with a cart at Forest Dunes costs $150. After 2 p.m., the cost is reduced to $125, while Monday and Tuesday rates are $125 throughout the entire day.
Designer: 1973 British Open champion Tom Weiskopf is well-known not only for his design of Forest Dunes Golf Club, but also for his design of the world-famous Loch Lomond Golf Club, which is the home of the European Tour Barclays Scottish Open.
Awards: Forest Dunes has recently been ranked number 20 on Golf Digests 2007-2008 100 Greatest Public Courses.
Level of Difficulty: Forest Dunes is well-known for its wide variety of challenges and for the different types of shot making skills that are required for every hole, leading general manager Mark Gurnow to say, When youve finished playing 18 holes, youve used every club in your bag. No two holes are the same. The length of the golf course varies as well, ranging from 3,000 yards from the junior tees to 7,100 from the tips. The course rating of the gentlemens tees is 74.8 with a slope of 142.
Overall: Since its opening in 2002, Forest Dunes has been known for its slogan - Pine Valley Meets Augusta. Golf Digest Architectural editor Ron Whitten offers the following explanation: Half the holes at Forest Dunes are Augusta National-style, rolling down majestic corridors of red and jack pines, with elaborate bunkering of gleaming white sand. The remaining holes bring to mind Pine Valley, with dark, exposed native sand littered with scruffy underbrush. The mix is artfully blended on both nines.

No. 1
Arcadia Bluffs
Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club
Arcadia, Mich.
Price: Standard summer rates for 18 holes with a cart and practice balls are $180. Twilight rates are $110 after 4 p.m. and only $50 after 6:30 p.m. Rates are reduced significantly during the spring and fall months, down to $75.
Designer: Premier course architect Rick Smith is known for his designs at Treetops Resort in Gaylord, Michigan, including the 18-hole Signature and the nine-hole par three Threetops, as well as his instruction of PGA TOUR members Phil Mickelson and Rocco Mediate.
Awards: Since its founding in 1998, Arcadia Bluffs has continually received praise from critics around the country, as it was recently ranked number 46 in Golf Digests 2007-2008 ranking of Americas 100 Greatest Golf Courses and number ten in its 2007-2008 ranking of 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses in the United States.
Level of Difficulty: Arcadia Bluffs resembles the links-style golf of Scotland and Ireland with its rolling terrain, lakeside surroundings and weather conditions. The course measures up to 7,300 yards from the Championship tee and the course rating of the Championship tee is 75.4 with a slope of 147.
Overall: Known for its unprecedented natural settings, Arcadia Bluffs was built on the bluffs above the shore of Lake Michigan. The course drops 225 feet from its highest point to the bluff and has over 3,100 feet of lake frontage. A caddie program is an option for guests who would like to have experience alongside them. The caddie program reduces course fees to $165, but the caddy rate is $30 per bag plus gratuity. Caddies are available during the summer months seven-days-a-week. With its world-class natural settings, challenging links style golf, premier course architecture, continued respect in the golf industry, and fine dining, Arcadia Bluffs is one of a kind.
With hundreds of public golf courses, natural, serene surroundings and fair pricing, Michigan has been called the Public Course Capital of the World. So go enjoy it before they're once again covered by a blanket of snow.

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