REVIEW: Forest Dunes Golf Course, MI

Everything is Top Notch
Michigan has some great golf courses and regularly holds various Tour events throughout the state.  With so many great courses and such fierce competition, Forest Dunes, has placed itself near the top of any list for the best public course in the state.  I have it ranked as my second favorite public course in the State.  (It would probably be my first if it had views of a great lake.)
I am finding a trend that the really good courses in the US are far away from civilization.  Forest Dunes is no different; it is some 8 miles away from Roscommon, which is by no means a bustling metropolis, and some 3 ½ hours from Detroit.  After driving over the hills and through the woods, you are greeted by a regal sign and immediately feel like you have entered a high-end retreat.  After winding down the property’s main roads, you enter the parking lot of a huge, craftsman style clubhouse.  The course is still hidden from sight, but just the clubhouse leads you to believe that you are in for a treat.

At the bag drop I was greeted by the most helpful attendant I have ever met.  The older gentleman helped get me set up on my cart, gave me some easy instructions to get started and even got a couple of AA batteries for my camera, since my back-ups were dead too.  The pro in the shop was really friendly and helpful explaining about the tournament that had been held at the course the day before so the greens would be moving.   The starter kindly gave me a ball mark repair tool, a bag tag, a scorecard, a yardage book and great words of advice on how to play the course.  He also let me know about the super slow 4-some in front of me that should allow me to play through in a couple of holes.

From the first tee you could see hole 1, hole 9, hole 18, hole 19 and even over to hole 10.  It is quite the vista of what was to come.  Away I went, striping the first drive, which is still one of my favorite feelings in golf.  It only got better, after sticking my approach to 2 feet and tapping in for birdie on the first was a sign of things to come.  I decided to take a stab at the full course.  Playing the tips at 7141 might seem like much, but it never seemed out of reach.  Hole 2 felt like a tight driving hole, even though it really wasn’t, but the long dogleg left is tough to par.  Hole 3 was a nice longer par 3.  It feels very cut into the forest, yet plenty wide, even if your shot isn’t perfect. The front 9 moved a little slow until I passed the group on hole 4.  This was a medium par 4 that narrowed right in the landing zone.  Hole 5 was a great bombs away par 5.  It was a slight dogleg left.  On the approach, balls tend to kick right so playing up the left side works a little better.  Hole 6 was a great risk reward.  There was a tree and complex of traps dividing the fairways.  I hit a soft 3 wood draw that put me in the lower left corner of the first fairway, which offered a great approach angle.  Hole 7 was a nasty par 5.  It played pretty wide off the tee, but the second shot position is vital to getting close to the hole.  The right side is a far easier approach.  Hole 8 gives you no chance to let up since it is long and very well guarded.  The right side is dead for this entire hole.  There is a bunch of bunkers on the corner to catch drives and then the lake/pond wrap around the green on the right side.  Going left allows you to run one down to the green.  The front 9 closed with an intimidating, yet reasonably long par 3 over water.

After a quick buzz by the clubhouse, I found my way over to hole 10 for more adventures.  It’s all about picking which fairway.  I decided to aim at the bunker splitting the fairway figuring I’d go to one side or the other.  Nope, right in the center of the bunker, but recovered to hit the wrong corner of this crazy kidney shaped green.  Hole 11, a shorter par 3, offered a little relief but hole 12 was time to tighten up the straps.  It’s not to tough off the tee, but the approach was tricky over the water on the right, especially when the pin is tucked up near the bank.   Hole 13 was another little breather before a tough three hole stretch.  The two-tier green is all about being on the right level.  Hole 14 was a beast.  There was a swampy sort of water feature on the left and it was long.  At 464 and played into a cross wind, I was happy to reach in two.  Hole 15 was no easier.  This left dog leg was tough to reach in 2, but possible because the green was sunken enough that balls will run down to it.  16 was the hardest par 3 on the course.  You had to strike a good shot at least 200 yards to carry the waste area to reach the pin at 231.  Hole 17 was just pure fun.  Bomb at the green and see what happens.  It had a semi blind landing zone, this was one of the best hole on the course.  Big hitters could go for it; even shorter hitters have all sorts of options.  Hole 18 was appropriately named Eagle Chance.  It was a shorter par 5, with danger long and left.  But wait, your not done yet, you get a free hole, 19.  It was a gamblers hole to settle the round, with a bunker smack in the middle of the green, making it important to be in the right section of this green to cash in.

This Troon managed course has all the amenities; a nice restaurant, and the extensive practice facilities all of which are top notch.  The course conditions were second to none.  I think it might have been the best conditions I have ever played.  Tom Weiskopf created and sculpted a fun, playable, yet tough championship course. It feels like the course just belongs there as it blends in with and natural setting and houseless backdrop.  It also is a Gold Signature Certified Audubon Course, making one of only 12 property worldwide to have such an honor.  Forest Dunes is a must play if you are in the state of MI.  From start to finish everything is top notch.

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