Text: Greg Johnson
Be prepared to make more than one visit to The Links at Bowen Lake in Gowen, Michigan.
Vicki Korson, who with her husband Wayne Korson, became owner about two years ago of the West Michigan-based, 18-hole public course near Greenville, is quick to tell golfers once they play she guarantees they will come back.
“Our goal is to give a great experience,” Vicki Korson said. “The saying we have is great golf, great food, great friends, and that is why people come back.”
The course is an original design of Bill Newcomb, a noted Michigan golf designer, that made its debut in 1998. Five sets of tees ranging from just a little more than 6,700 yards to new front tee positions at about 4,500 yards, welcomes golfers to stunning wetlands, rolling meadows, forest stands, and some dramatic sand bunkering across 170 acres. Carts are mandatory for the trip around the 30-acre Bowen Lake.
The lake is the backdrop and the centerpiece, offering great views—especially from the deck of the new clubhouse that was central to the investment the Korsons have made in the last two years. The clubhouse had helped the course become a destination for golfers and groups with a full-service restaurant open during the golf season.
The clubhouse isn’t the only recent improvement: cart-path work and tree removal to give golfers more room have been significant projects. The Golf Association of Michigan measured and re-rated the course last summer and Superintendent Bob Klingbeil consistently provides golfers with great playing conditions.
“The golfers tell us we have some of the nicest greens in the state, and they are nice size greens,” Korson said. “The scenery is gorgeous. The five sets of tees make it so any golfer can enjoy it, and it is not easy. I think the par-3s as a group are kind of the signature holes. They are really a great group. People talk about them.”
The par-3s include a nice variety of looks and challenge, and from the middle or gold tees measure 159 yards at the second hole, 153 yards at the sixth hole, 122 yards at the 12th hole, and 139 yards at the fifteenth hole. A few carries over wetlands are part of the challenge, but comfortable for the golfer who picks the tee positions that match their skill levels.
Wayne and Vicki Korson live at Canadian Lakes and are members at Tullymore Golf Resort in Stanwood. They said the reason they purchased The Links at Bowen Lake is because they forgot to ever talk about retirement.
“It’s the truth. Wayne is 71 [years-old], I’m 69 [years-old] and here we are owning and working at a golf course,” Korson said. “We’ve never had one conversation about retirement. We like to have a challenge I guess, and we try to make this a great place for people to come play golf.”
The Links Bar & Grill has helped make it a great place, and features a unique bottoms-up beer system, which is a beer dispensing unit using magnets and beer tubes.
“It’s part of the fun here,” Korson said. “People tell us all the time that our pizza is the best they have had. We pretty much hear that every day. We have a great group of cooks and very nice bar style food. We do special events, too; steak and salmon the grill on the deck and Friday night specials. We have a lot of people who come here to eat and they are not golfers.”
The course, clubhouse, and grill will open again on April 1, 2020 if weather cooperates. Membership options, public daily fee rates under $50 and other information is available at linksatbowenlake.com.