Text: Greg Johnson
In the 2019-2020 ranking of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses released in May 2019, Golf Digest named 10 Michigan courses as among the best public golf in the country. From Arcadia and Roscommon, to Marquette, and Charlevoix, popular Michigan resort courses and fairway destinations were recognized as part of the publication’s biennial review of America’s top public courses.
The Rick Smith and Warren Henderson design of The Bluffs at Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club in Arcadia, Michigan was ranked 13th once again; and Forest Dunes Golf Club’s original Forest Dunes course was ranked 28th, while its new landmark reversible course landed in 45th and 47th place for the Black and Red route, respectively. Renowned architect Tom Doak of Traverse City completed The Loop course, which plays clockwise one day and counter-clockwise the next, sharing greens and tees; while the original Forest Dunes was done by Tom Weiskopf.
Greywalls, which was designed by Mike DeVries at Marquette Golf Club in Marquette, Michigan, was listed at 54th and the Jim Engh-designed Tullymore at Tullymore Golf Resort in Stanwood, Michigan was ranked as 61. For BOYNE Golf, the 18-hole-pairing of The Links and The Quarry at Bay Harbor Golf Club—designed by Arthur Hills with Stephen Kircher—was ranked at number 80; and its nearby The Heather course designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1966 at Boyne Highlands was ranked for the first time at 92.
In Charlevoix, Belvedere Golf Club was ranked at 89th and Jack Nicklaus’ signature course known as The Bear at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Acme, Michigan was ranked at 95. Belvedere’s course was designed by Willie Watson in 1927, Ray Didier in 1961, and then restored by Bruce Hepner in 2016, which helped land its first ranking by Golf Digest.
To compile a ranking of the country’s top public courses, Golf Digest uses nearly 1,000 low-handicap male and female golfers on its Course Ranking Panel and asks each to submit ballots based on eight criteria. The topics addressed comprise shot options, challenge, layout variety, distinctiveness, aesthetics, conditioning, character, and fun.