Text: R. Collins // Photography: Forest Dunes Golf Club, Brian Walters Photography
Since its opening in 2016, The Loop golf course at Forest Dunes Golf Club in Roscommon, Michigan, has seen enthusiastic play time thanks to its unique reversible routing and historic architectural features. The design is an ode to golf’s more simple origins, when courses were played only by walking and little earth was moved for their design.
The Loop features a reversible design by Tom Doak featuring Red and Black routings that wrap in opposite directions. The course plays alternate directions daily to avoid run-ins between parties, but on three special days out of the golf season, Forest Dunes hosts an event called The Dual, which posits a rare opportunity to play both routings—all 36 holes—on the same day.
“[There’s a] novelty of being able to say you’re one of the few people that have done that. You can really appreciate the true genius of that architectural feat that Tom Doak was able to pull off with a reversible course,” said Don Helinski, director of operations at Forest Dunes.
The Dual outing is extremely popular for this reason, and those who play it tend to want to return. Now in its fourth edition, The Dual hosts its last event session August 31st before returning again in 2022. This time around, the event sold out in nine minutes, making it important for potential players to get on the registration page early once registration begins again. The tournament is comprised of 32 teams of two and utilizes a best-ball play style with only gross and net divisions. Besides the unique concept behind its design, Helinski enjoys The Loop for the style of play if offers golfers, which is one not typically seen in the United States.
“It has a very European feel to it. It’s an English, heathland design that’s very fast and firm. There’s no trees; it’s about a lot of ground game and creative shot making around the greens,” Helinski said.
The wide-open spaces and lack of traditional tee boxes to support the reverse routing design give the topography a clean feel, but plenty of challenges arrive in the form of kept natural areas and land formed by glacial sand deposits. In addition, the greens are designed to serve both routing directions, with plenty of options for approaching them. Though the whole course is, in its entirety, a bit of a challenge, it is a rare play option for the national golf audience that continues to interest those ready for the endeavor.
“It’s very unique; some people love it, and some hate it, but the more you play it, the more accustomed to the style you get and the more fun you have with it,” Helinski said. “That’s the main thing: there’s a zillion different ways to play the shots. ‘It’s a load of fun’ is the best way to describe it.”