Course Spotlight

The Best of Public Golf in Michigan

By Brendon Elliott, PGA
Published on
Harbor Shores Golf Club.

Harbor Shores Golf Club.

There are many great spots across the country to tee it up in the summer. With average morning lows in the lower 60’s and daytime highs in the low to mid 80’s, Michigan may be one of the better places to play with summer in full swing. You also have plenty of time to play in with daylight lasting in Michigan anywhere between 14-15 hours a day. 
The Great Lake State boasts over 650 public access golf courses. Included are some of the best courses in the country. 
In no particular order, these facilities are held in very high esteem among golf course enthusiasts…
Belvedere Golf Club – Charlevoix
(Photo by Patrick Koenig)
(Photo by Patrick Koenig)
Designed in 1925 by famed architect William Watson, who is best known for classics such as Olympia Fields in Chicago, Interlachen in Minneapolis, and The Olympic Club in San Francisco, his Belvedere Golf Club masterpiece is one of the crown jewels of northern Michigan. Belvedere is one of those special places where you can walk the same footsteps that legends like Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen and Tom Watson.
Harbor Shore Resort – Benton Harbor
Just 100 miles from Chicago, this 18-hole, public, Jack Nicklaus Signature Course reflects the high standards that Mr. Nicklaus, one of the world’s leading designers, possesses. The course held its Grand Opening in July of 2010, with Johnny Miller, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, and its designer, Jack Nicklaus, in attendance. Harbor Shores hosted the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship in 2012, '14, '16, 2018 and 2022 and is hosting its final Championship this week
And who can forget that special moment, at the opening of Harbor Shores, brought to you by the Golden Bear:
Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club – Arcadia  
The Bluffs Course at Arcadia Bluffs.
The Bluffs Course at Arcadia Bluffs.
This breathtaking piece of property has all the same feels that famed seaside links courses such as Lahinch and Ballybunion have. Arcadia Bluffs sits on 265 acres of windswept bluffs 180 feet above Lake Michigan. You can’t go wrong with either the Bluffs Course or the South Course, and in fact, if you could squeeze in 36, I’d give that a go!
Forest Dunes – Roscommon  
Forest Dunes has become one of the country's premier golf experiences. With Tom Weiskopf's Forest Dunes, Tom Doak's The Loop, and a 10-hole par-3 by Keith Rhebb and Riley Johns called The Bootlegger, there's an endless supply of golf for day trips, long weekends or more.
(Photo by Evan Schiller)
(Photo by Evan Schiller)
Forest Dunes is in perennially immaculate shape while The Loop has inspiration from Scottish links and is North America' only true reversible course using the same 18 greens and fairways. The Bootlegger (below), meanwhile, is only 1,100 yards making it an easy, couple club pitch and putt with music and cold drinks to boot (pun intended).
The Bootlegger short course. (Photo by Evan Schiller)
The Bootlegger short course. (Photo by Evan Schiller)
Eagle Eye – Bath
When designer Chris Lutzke collaborated with the famed Pete Dye, you knew something special was going to come from his creation at Eagle Eye. This links style track offers the typical challenges that you would find on any of Dye’s courses.
In addition, Lutzke included an homage to Pete Dye with his signature “Island Green” No. 17 replica hole, a nod to the famed TPC Sawgrass No. 17 par 3.
Greywalls at Marquette Golf Club – Marquette  
(Photo by Patrick Koenig)
(Photo by Patrick Koenig)
The Greywalls course opened to rave reviews in 2005 and golf course designer Mike DeVries has much to be proud of with this masterpiece. The course treats golfers to a wild ride over a diverse terrain. Rolling fairways, dramatic elevation changes, and a bunkered links land experience. The breathtaking views of Lake Superior are absolutely incredible. 
Bay Harbor Golf Club (Links/Quarry) – Bay Harbor 
No. 7 at Bay Harbor's Links Course. (Bay Harbor Golf Club)
No. 7 at Bay Harbor's Links Course. (Bay Harbor Golf Club)
Bay Harbor Golf Club features 27-holes designed by Arthur Hills, which plays as three different course combinations (Links/Quarry, Quarry/Preserve, Preserve/Links). One of the favorites of many Michigander golfers, and visitors alike, is the Links/Quarry course. This track boasts picturesque holes along a plateau overlooking Lake Michigan which meanders in and out of an old limestone quarry along the shoreline.
The Bear at Grand Traverse Resort – Acme 
With the name The Bear, you probably won’t be surprised that this amazing course is a signature design of Jack Nicklaus. The Bear is probably best-known for being one of the toughest courses in America as described by Golf Digest. It’s almost like Jack threw any, and all, of the possible pitfalls a golfer could ever imagine finding on a course, on this one layout. The beautiful par 72, links-style course features Scottish terraced fairways, tiered greens, deep rough, moguls, mounds, and even deep pot bunkers. If that wasn’t enough, golfers will also encounter lakes, ponds, hardwood forests, streams, and fruit orchards. Wildlife loves the course too and can be found in abundance at The Bear.
Brendon R. Elliott, PGA

Sorrento, FL

Brendon Elliott

Executive Director/Founder

Brendon Elliott is considered by his peers in the industry as one of the top youth golf coaches in the world. He is a multiple, local, state, regional, national and world award winning instructor with a focus on junior golfers ages 3-18. With numerous appearances on Golf Channel's Morning Drive, local TV, nationwide radio and countless publications, Elliott is one of the foremost experts in the youth golf arena. His Little Linksters 501c3 nonprofit is recognized as an example for introducing children as young as three to the game as well as how to help introduce youth with disabilities to our golf. Elliott has been recommended by industry titian's such as Nicklaus, Player, Floyd, Sorenstam, Speith and more. Among his numerous accolades, Elliott was named the PGA of America's 2017 PGA National Youth Player Development Award Winner in 2017.

Meet Brendon