The Forest Dunes Golf Club resort in Roscommon, Michigan is familiar with attracting attention for its golf program. Its founding course, a Tom-Weiskopf-design, features 18 holes cut through northern Michigan forest and rugged native sands; and it was joined in 2016 by The Loop, an 18-hole option that received national attention for its reversible routing design, courtesy of architect Tom Doak.
Recently, ground has broken on another course development that will add to the resort’s repertoire of dynamic play, and it will be placed directly in between its two predecessors.
“With how compact it is and close to everything, it’s going to be a very relaxed, fun, and social [option]; and the other thing is it’s going to challenge the experienced golfer, but it’s also going to be a great place for people to be introduced to the game,” said Don Helinski, director of operations at Forest Dunes.
The course—which has yet to be named—will hold 10 holes in its compact design, the first coinciding with the last. Each hole will also be characteristically short—no more than 160 yards—a design trend in its upswing across national courses seeking to inject play with ease in an age of time restrictions. This is the goal for Forest Dunes’ newest addition, which will be perched on a hilltop and hemmed between the putting course, a driving range, and two outdoor bar pavilions.
Helinski envisions it will cultivate a sociable, lighthearted atmosphere for many types of golfers to convene and enjoy the game for its core purpose: enjoyment. The architectural team tasked with executing its design comprises Riley Johns, founder of Integrative Golf Design and Keith Rhebb, owner and operator of Rhebb Golf Design. Among acclamation for projects like the renovation of the Winter Park Country Club’s historic municipal course in Winter Park, Florida, the duo is known for its hands-on approach to designing for the modern golfer.
“They were pretty much given a blank palette,” Helinski said. “They were given the defined space of where it needed to go and we kind of turned them loose to create something unique and enjoyable, and they’ve been kind of designing on the fly almost. They’ve had the freedom to do what they have the expertise in.”
Free of specific, rigid layout plans, the firm has been working from concept, crafting its design around the characteristics of natural land formed by the Huron National Forest’s thickets and glacial deposits. Its natural topography positions Forest Dunes as what Helinski describes “a pure golf destination” on the outskirts of Roscommon, where it continues to draw golfers looking for a memorable experience and secluded escape.
“We don’t have a pool or a spa or anything like that. The people who are coming here are looking for number one: an escape, and number two: to play quality golf,” Helinski said.
“This is just another amenity that we will be able to offer them when they’re here on their escape and it’s one that will take less time to enjoy; less clubs; less wear and tear on their body; and a [focus] on the social, fun things more than anything,” Helinski added.
The resort’s newest addition is already taking shape; the land is being cleared and formed, with hopes for having it seeded by August 2019. A definitive finish date and pricing structure has not yet been determined, but updates will be posted online for Forest Dunes fans to track the progress of their new short course option.