Text: Greg Johnson
In Roscommon, Michigan, the highly regarded northern Michigan golf retreat of Forest Dunes Golf Club is adding a 10-hole, par-3 course designed by Riley Johns and Keith Rhebb to its collection—a portfolio that already comprises the award-winning original Forest Dunes Course by Tom Weiskopf and the landmark The Loop by Tom Doak.
The 10-hole, par-3 will be situated on a site between The Loop and Forest Dunes courses, and near the clubhouse, pavilion, practice area, and HillTop Putting Course.
It will be a short course with strategic holes measuring between 50 yards and 155 yards, and is being designed to serve golfers of all ages and skill levels, according to the press release that announced the construction.
Forest Dunes owner Lew Thompson selected architects Riley Johns and Keith Rhebb, who have previously partnered on the acclaimed renovation at Orlando’s Winter Park 9 course. Johns and Rhebb have also worked on high-profile design projects around the globe with legendary architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.
Johns and Rhebb met in 2014 while working for Coore and Crenshaw on the construction of Cabot Cliffs in Nova Scotia. Johns also assisted Tom Doak in the initial design and construction stages of The Loop. Also playing a major role in the shaping of the course is Michigan-based golf construction, design, and shaping expert: Joe Hancock.
“We were thrilled at how quickly this project came together this year and with the huge amount of trust [Thompson] has given us,” Johns stated in the release. “He wants a course that will be fun and playable for his grandkids and any golfer of any skill level, so that’s the main goal we’re keeping in mind as we build holes where you can play a variety of shots and trajectories and take different angles to get to the hole.”
The new par-3 short course will not be penal or overly-demanding, according to the press release. It will measure 957 yards and feature fescues from the tees to the edges of the bentgrass greens with strategic slopes and banks. Rhebb noted the greens will take on a variety of subtle shapes, many being bowl-shaped and some resembling catcher’s mitts or table-tops.
“When you come to Forest Dunes, we want you to have a good time,” Thompson said.
The owner also said music, bare feet, and eightsomes will be allowed on the new par-3 course if that’s what it takes to make the game more accessible and fun.
“What Keith and Riley are building is going to bring a new life and energy to the property,” Thompson said. “It’s going to bring people together and make their time more enjoyable.”
A unique feature on the course will be that the first and tenth holes are crossover holes with a tree protecting from direct ball flight issues.
The new course is scheduled to be ready for play in the summer of 2020. Shaping started in June 2019, irrigation is being placed in July 2019, and grassing is planned for August 2019.