Golf In MichiganMarch 1, 2018

Inside Golf Tips From Famous Michigan Fans

Michigan has an illustrious golf history through its residents, like Walter Hagen, and renowned visitors who have come for a century of tournament golf (or a summer holiday). We picked our 10 favorite tips and reminiscences from players and teachers who have made the game great in the state.

Photo by Dom Furore/Golf Digest

Jack Nicklaus says his most memorable experience in Michigan golf was finishing fourth as a 21-year-old amateur in the 1961 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills. He turned professional a few months later and won the U.S. Open at Oakmont the very next year.

1) Jack Nicklaus
“I have an affinity for Michigan. My parents would go up north, and I discovered a course called Crystal Downs. I played it when I was 11 years old—and I had no idea it was a ‘famous’ golf course. But it was pretty good for an 11-year-old. You have great golf in Michigan, and great weather in the summertime to enjoy and have fun.”

2) Tom Watson
“My favorite course is Belvedere (in Charlevoix). I spent every summer up there, near Walloon Lake, through high school, and it’s one of my favorite places in the world. The 16th hole there is one of the best in golf.”

3) Rick Smith, Golf Digest 50 Best Teacher
“Michigan summers have light from six in the morning until 10 at night. You can easily play 54 holes in a day—if you have the legs for it.”

Photo by Dom Furore/Golf Digest

Rick Smith has been one of America's 50 Best Teachers according to Golf Digest for the past two decades. He’s also an award-winning course designer with popular signature tracks in Gaylord and Arcadia Bluffs.

4.) Justin Verlander, former Detroit Tigers pitcher
“One thing about playing golf in Michigan is the quality of the turf. It isn’t like anything anywhere else. Everything is so green and lush.”

5.) Jason Guss, Golf Digest’s No. 1 Teacher in Michigan
“When you play golf in Michigan, you have to be able to adjust for elevation changes—something most players way underestimate. Every 40 feet of elevation change means a difference of 10 yards in distance you need to play.”

You won't find a better golf instructor in Michigan than Jason Guss, whose academy is at Hawk Hollow in Bath Township, Mich.

6) Walter Hagen, Golf Legend and former head pro at Oakland Hills CC
“If you find yourself driving poorly in a round, there are a few things that might help you get back in your stride. The temptation to sway back and forth is very great with the feet close together. The chances are that the mistake of getting the body into the shot too quickly will result from this stance.”

7) Dana Fry, Golf Course Architect
“I’ve been to 109 countries, and I’d say Hawaii, Greece and Arcadia Bluffs have the best sunsets that I’ve ever seen.”

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8) Dan Pohl, Mt. Pleasant native and two-time PGA Tour winner
“When you get into the junk, don’t try to hit at the ball. Pick a spot an inch or two behind the ball and use the motion of the swing to hit through it. It’s a lot like a bunker shot.”

9) Rick Smith
“If you want to turn the fun meter up all the way, try Threetops (at the Treetops resort in Gaylord). It’s one of the country’s best par-3 courses, and takes 90 minutes to play.”

10) Jason Guss
“When you play here, you have to be able to handle different lies. When it’s extra firm or extra soggy, you make the same adjustment—play the ball a little more back in your stance to make sure you hit the ball first.”