Best Public Golf Courses in Southwest Michigan

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Best Public Golf Courses in Southwest Michigan

Best Public Golf Courses in Southwest Michigan

Paul LiberatorePaul Liberatore

Paul Liberatore






For the last few years, I’ve made the trip from my home in Arizona to Michigan to play golf with one of my best friends from college, Dan.  Each year, we sample the golf in a different region of the state.  Our latest venture was to Southwest Michigan.  As we expected, the golf was superb.

Along with the help of our northern brethren, I’ve compiled a list of the ten best public courses anyone can play.


Harbor Shores Golf Club

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Dan and I both love playing where the game’s best play.  We do it every chance we get.  That’s exactly what a morning tee time meant for us at Harbor Shores.

Designed by Jack Nicklaus, this track has hosted the Senior PGA Championship a number of times in the past decade.  It’s not hard to see why.

Like most Nicklaus designs, the features are pronounced at Harbor Shores.  While there was some earth that was moved during construction, the course blends seamlessly with pristine natural surroundings.  To the naked eye, it’s apparent that environmental stewardship remains a top priority.

The routing and mixture of holes flows perfectly as well.  The first six are inland with tree lined fairways and greens that are well protected.  From there, a number of holes are cut in between expansive sand dunes, before the course heads back into the forest.  The real treat comes at the end on holes 14 through 18.  They’re cut amongst the Paw Paw River and its natural wetlands. 

Harbor Shores offers an unparalleled experience.  If you have the chance to play here, jump on it. 



Pine View Golf Course

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Just outside Anne Harbor, where Dan calls home, is the town of Ypsilanti.  That’s where you’ll find Pine View Golf Course. 

Dan and I have played here a number of times and can attest that it’s the tale of two nines.  The front nine is what locals call “Open Pines”.  On this side, the fairways are wide, and the greens large and undulating. 

Conversely, the back nine is called “Rolling Pines”.  Back here, the fairways narrow and are lined by majestic White Pines.  While length is an advantage on the front, your best bet is to keep it in play on the back.  This side is the harder of the two as well.    

Pine View is both fun and challenging.  Make time to play here when you’re in town.


Paw Paw Lake Golf Club

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Dan and I both have a soft spot for classic, old-school designs.  That’s exactly what’s waiting at Paw Paw Lake Golf Club.

Dating back to 1918, this track meanders over rolling hills and through mature woodlands.  As you’d expect, accuracy and course management are rewarded.

The greens are small too.  Even though you’ll have some short approach shops, precision is a must if you want to putt for birdie. 

The service here is second to none.  The course is family-owned, and you’ll feel like part of the family when you come play. 

After your round be sure to grab a drink and take in the view of Paw Paw Lake from the Gazebo, you won’t be disappointed.


Brookswood Golf Course

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Since 1965, Michigan golfers have called Brookswood Golf Club home.  The course was originally founded by Joe and Maxine Hess.  Their presence is still felt to this day. 

It’s all about shot placement at Brookswood.  Holes aren’t long, but they move in both directions and are quite narrow. 

The greens are also known as some of the toughest in the area.  Even though they’re small in stature, they’re sloped and quick.  If there’s a course where being below the holes is important, this is it.

Brookswood shouldn’t be missed.  It’s full of character and charm that will make you want to come back and play it again.


Lake Cora Hills Golf Course

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Tradition meets modern at Lake Cora Hills.  The layout is traditional in the sense that the greens are small, and the fairways narrow.  However, ample opportunities for risk and reward make Lake Cora a blast to play in a modern sense. 

On the front nine, you’ll find a couple drivable par fours.  If you’re feeling adventurous, taking the big stick from the tee might give you a good look at eagle or birdie.  But if you don’t execute, double bogey is a possibility. 

The back nine features some significant elevation change.  This is especially true on a number of holes where the tee boxes are set well above the fairways.  A couple of par fives can be exciting too.  There’s always an option to play safe.  But if you want, you can try to get home in two with daring shots over water to greens that are well protected.

Dan and I always have something on the line, and this course is the perfect place for a wager.  But don’t take our word for it, come see for yourself.


Stoatin Brae Golf Club

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What I like most about golf in Michigan is the variety of courses anyone can play.

While the Southwest part of the state is littered with outstanding traditional layouts, modern designs like Stoatin Brae are a breath of fresh air. 

This is a wide-open windswept American links design.  You won’t find many trees here.  Playing the ball along the ground is often the way to go. 

Set on one of the highest points in Kalamazoo County, the views here are just as impressive as the course itself.  Stay focused though. 

Even though the fairways are generous, the contours on and around the greens are where the fun begins.  Be ready to think outside the box and play some different shots.

Always in pristine condition and fun to play, it’s no wonder Stoatin Brae is considered one of the premier courses in all of Michigan.


Pilgrim’s Run Golf Club

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For an upscale public round of golf, look no further than Pilgrim’s Run in the community of Pierson. 

Occupying more than 400 acres, this course boasts a wide variety of holes that keep you on your toes the whole way around.

The conditions are top-notch as well.  Bent grass is the turf of choice from the tees through the greens.  No bad lies in the fairways and putts roll as pure as the snow that blankets the course in the winter. 

Peaceful is just one of the words golfers use to describe Pilgrim’s Run.  Lack of houses and commercialization make for a quiet round that’s both fun and challenging.


The Pines Golf Course

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The Pines is a hidden gem that Dan and I play whenever I’m in town.  It’s located in the suburb of Wyoming. 

Another traditional design, driving it long isn’t as important as keeping it in play.  Maybe that’s why Dan always seems to clean my clock here.

The fairways are lined by mature White Pines.  Ending up amongst them will put you on the fast track to a bogey.  I speak from experience. 

If you get it going with your short irons, you can score though.  The course isn’t long and can be had if you keep it in play.

Affordable golf and a one-of-a-kind experience can be found at The Pines.  I can’t wait to get back for revenge.


Lake Doster Golf Club

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Lake Doster has been called “One of the Top 25 Courses in Michigan” for years.  It comes as no surprise. 

While this track might not seem too tough on paper, everyone agrees that it’s deceivingly difficult. 

After all, it’s home to the “Little Monster.”  We’re talking about arguably the toughest par three in the state.  The tee box is set high above a treacherous green that’s surrounded by penal bunkers, trees, and water.  From the white tees, this hole only measures 88 yards.  But there’s nowhere to miss, so you’d best step up and hit a golf shot. 

Lake Doster is target golf.  Water can be found throughout and it’s clear on every hole that playing from one point to another is the way to score.

Dan and I haven’t played here yet, but you can bet we’re putting it on our list.


Ravines Golf Club

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I’ve played the Ravines a couple of times.  There was no way I was going to miss this track when I first heard about it – it was designed by my hero, Arnold Palmer. 

A magnificent setting, exceptional service, and great value are the hallmarks of this experience. 

When you play at Ravines, you’ll feel at one with nature.  Native surroundings are varied and are perfectly accented by bright blue skies.

The King designed this course just like he played, plenty of opportunity for risk and reward.  Choose wisely.

After your round, settle in for a drink in Arnie’s Cottage.  The panorama of the 18th hole makes for an idyllic setting.


I’m like a kid on Christmas every time I get ready to see Dan in Michigan.  We have a great time together, and the golf is both top-notch and affordable.  It’s not hard to see why Dan calls Anne Arbor home and loves to play golf.

Even though the season is a lot shorter than in my hometown of Phoenix, I get why people call this place home. 

Thanks to our Michigan readers that contributed their thoughts to help shape this course guide.

If there’s more you’d like to add, drop us a line in the comments.