161. Lost Dunes Golf Club
Tom Doak (1999)
Anyone who has ever played Mike Keiser’s terrific nine-hole Dunes Club in New Buffalo, Mich.—one of the best nine-hole courses in America, if not the best—is familiar with the “lost dunes” that exist along that stretch of Lake Michigan in southeast Michigan. Lost Dunes Golf Club, a half hour north along the same sand ridge, was created from an old sand quarry, lined on three sides by 60-foot-tall forested sand dunes, bottomed by two deep pit lakes and traversed through the center by I-94. (Nothing wrong with that: No. 5 Oakmont is bisected by the Pennsylvania Turnpike.) There was still plenty of sand left in the quarry, which allowed Doak and his team to create some vast sandy waste areas as well as windblown dunes-style bunkers. Since the greens were shaped from native sand, the green contours are very bold. “The wildest set of greens I’ve ever built,” said Doak soon after it opened. When Keiser played the course on opening day, he was considering hiring Doak to design Pacific Dunes. “I can’t have him build these kind of greens for the retail golfer,” Keiser said. “Doak’s a professional,” he was told by another in his group. “He’ll give you whatever you want.” Sure enough, Doak was hired for Pacific Dunes, and the Bandon course now ranks No. 17 in the nation.
100 Greatest/Second 100 Greatest History: Ranked on America’s 100 Greatest: 2007-2008. Ranked on Second 100 Greatest: 2013 through current. Highest ranking: No. 63, 2007-2008. Previous ranking: No. 141
Panelist comments, Lost Dunes Golf Club:
"A very intriguing course on a unique property. And while there is great variety in the holes themselves, the collection of the greens on this course may be the most striking. The sizes and shapes offer plenty of variety, but it is the contours of the greens that offer the most drama. Each green is unique, with bold contours which make the player think before each approach. There are ample opportunities for finesse and using the contours to get the ball close to the hole."
"A forgotten Tom Doak in southwest Michigan an hour and a half from Chicago provides an interesting experience that is different from most Michigan courses. Large fairways with typical Doak greens and bunkering, the course had a more links feel with a mix of forestry."
"Amazing, despite I-94 running right through the middle of it, the highway is hardly noticeable. The holes that play parallel to the interstate are shielded by trees and are substantially lower than the highway, making it an afterthought. The only restriction is that it likely led to the somewhat awkward routing, leaving the first tee far from the clubhouse and necessitating lengthy walks (or rides) from green to tee."
"Noticeable variety in length, direction, and use of hills up, down, and along. Also, excellent green complexes and surrounding areas. Conditioning, and a couple other categories, could have scored higher with firmer, faster fairways and greens."
"The green complexes were so well done with back stops and side boards that would allow a shot to be bounced or ran up or you could fly the ball to the hole."
"The first thing to note from the tee boxes are some of the largest landing areas in golf. The relative safety of the opening shot belies what's waiting on the greens as Lost Dunes has varied and heavily sloped greens that tend to run fast and can lead to multiple three putts for golfers in the wrong position."