It’s no surprise the verdant land near the many farms, ranches and Lake Michigan in Southwest Michigan— known for producing the grains for cereal, craft beer and sandy dunes and beaches — has proven ideal for routing golf courses. A great variety of compelling designs dot the rich countryside, making this pristine region a vastly-underrated and value-rich destination for golf trips with friends or family.
Located between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, Gull Lake View Golf Resort remains one of the largest family-owned resorts in the U.S. and now, with one of the most talked-about new golf courses in country, the venerable destination looks excitedly toward its next generation. Brian Schneider, Eric Iverson, Don Placek and Brian Slawnik, senior associates for Renaissance Golf Design, collaborated with Gull Lake View owners, the Scott family on the acclaimed new Stoatin Brae course, a magnificent design situated on a picturesque bluff overlooking the Kalamazoo River Valley that marries classic links-style playability with architectural elements from golf’s golden design era of the 1920s and 1930s to create stunning and unforgettable golfing experience.
Harbor Shores Golf Club, designed by Jack Nicklaus, is a spectacular design that is three unique styles in one, links, parkland, and woodlands, which meanders around the Paw Paw River. The highlight of the course is standing up on the 7th green looking out over the dunes to Lake Michigan. The course, which has been part of a community reclamation project in Benton Harbor, hosted its 4th Senior PGA Championship in 2018.
Located near the western shores of Lake Michigan, Grand Haven Golf Club opened in 1965 and was designed by Michigan architects Bruce Matthews and his son Jerry Matthews. Located a couple hundred yards from Lake Michigan, the course meanders through the scenic sand dunes and pine trees. The original layout was redesigned and reimagined into the American Dunes Golf Club. A Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, American Dunes will pay tribute to the United States Military and is a reminder to all that Freedom is not free.
Ravines Golf Club is southwest Michigan’s first Arnold Palmer designed golf course. Located in the beautiful shoreline town of Saugatuck, Michigan, Palmer created a spectacular layout that meanders through beautiful wetland areas and rugged ravines. Its collection of par 5s are some of the most intimidating in the state. The ninth hole winds along a pond. The 626-yard 14th hole requires a demanding carry off the tee followed by an approach over a stream. The finishing hole is significantly shorter at 488 yards but much tighter. Most golfers try to carry a wetland on the second shot. That’s a risky proposition, especially from the thick rough that lines much of the design.
Sculpted out of native sand dunes, dense woods, evergreen forests and natural waste areas, Hemlock Golf Club in Ludington is one of most fun courses in the region. A crafty Ray Hearn design with golf holes named Top O’ The Hill, Dune Beast, Northern Beauty, Mighty Oaks, and Peninsula, Hemlock is a bold and unique golfing experience. Hearn states, “Instead of creating typical modern contemporary sand bunkers we simply utilized sand formations throughout the site that look like small natural sand dunes. The result is a stunning look as the sand contrasts the different green hues of the trees, greens, tees, fairways and rough areas in a bold yet attractive manner.”
Pilgrims Run, designed by Michigan based designer Mike DeVries, offesr two very unique style golf courses. The Mines, located right in the city of Grand Rapids, featured a rugged links style design with firm fairways and large undulating the greens. The course was built 150 feet above gypsum mines that were utilized as early as the 1860’s. Pilgrims Run, located 20-minutes north of the city, was built on over 400 acres of scenic and rolling land reminiscent of northern Michigan. Your journey takes you through a scenic parkland style course through massive rolling hills with scenic white pines and black oaks with fun undulating greens.