The Best Bargain Courses in Michigan
Pebble Beach certainly has million-dollar views, but with a peak-season green fee of $525, it can devour the entire budget for any golf trip all by itself. To get more for your money, you need to go where land is reasonable, golf is plentiful—and the views are almost as good. With abundant lake views, long daylight hours and lots of competition, Michigan golf offers some of the best value for money on the planet. Here, we'll break down some of the best bargains by region.
Treetops Resort, Gaylord
One of the original golf-centric mega-resorts in Northern Michigan, Treetops is still among the best thanks to a variety of room options and a stellar collection of five courses from name-brand architects like Tim Fazio and Robert Trent Jones Sr. The resort's popular unlimited play package starts at $100 per night (with a $20 surcharge for the Fazio Premier and Jones Masterpiece), which means the skin on your hands will give out before the daylight does.
Lakewood Shores Resort, Oscoda
Its location on the Lake Huron side of Michigan means Lakewood Shores doesn't get as much traffic or attention as its Traverse City and Gaylord area competitors, but the resort's Gailes and Blackshire courses are worth a stand-alone trip. The Gailes (pictured below) is Kevin Aldridge's tribute to Scottish links courses, while the Blackshire 18 comes from the Pine Valley school of design. For less than the cost of nine holes at the Old Course in Scotland, you can get three rounds of golf, two nights stay and continental breakfast. Packages start at $219.
Photo courtesy of Lakewood Shores Resort
Black Lake Golf Club, Onaway
The United Auto Workers wanted a trophy course to outfit their up-north hideaway, so they commissioned Rees Jones to build Black Lake. Mission accomplished. Jones' course is a staple on Golf Digest's list of America's 100 Best Public Courses, and is a bargain even if you aren't a dues-paying union member. It's $75 with cart in peak season and $50 for a twilight that extends almost six hours in the middle of the summer.
Boyne Resorts, Boyne City
Boyne operates an entire network of properties throughout Northern Michigan, from the casually comfortable Boyne Mountain to the chic Bay Harbor Lodge—and ten courses that range from family-friendly resort tracks to 100 Greatest Courses candidates. For rates starting at $151 per night, you get lodging at Boyne Mountain, unlimited golf, and $25 in gambling credit at a nearby casino. Even with the $85 surcharge to play Bay Harbor, you're still out of pocket less than the rack rate at this shorefront beauty.
Tullymore Golf Resort, Stanwood
Tullymore is off the beaten path, adjacent to the Huron-Manistee National Forest about an hour north of Grand Rapids. But the top-tier golf—both the Tullymore and St. Ives courses have made national Top 100 lists—and the classy accommodations make it a favorite for those who don't want to drive all the way up north. Early season packages for villa rooms and rounds at both courses start at just $225 per night.
Apple Mountain, Saginaw
In the beginning, many Michigan courses built at the base of ski runs were offseason afterthoughts. Now, the golf quality often eclipses what happens on the hills. That's certainly the equation at Apple Mountain, where the picturesque John Sanford design is in better condition than most top-end private clubs—and is just $72 at its weekend summer peak.
Photo courtesy of Apple Mountain
Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort, Augusta
The Scott family started small when building their golf resort north of Kalamazoo, with two courses they designed themselves. Nothing about Gull Lake View is small-time anymore. The newest course, Stoatin Brae, built by Tom Doak's Renaissance Design, is a critical smash, and the Bedford Valley 18 designed by William Mitchell has played host to the Michigan Open and NCAA Division II National Championship. For rates starting at $235, you can get two days of unlimited golf and a room in one of the resort's villas or luxury cottages.
University of Michigan Golf Course, Ann Arbor
If you want to play an Alister MacKenzie design and aren't a member at Augusta National, you don't have many options. Only six of legendary designer's courses are public access—and three of those are in California. Thanks to a new "alumni for a day" program at Michigan, you can get out on this recently renovated MacKenzie gem for $125. Know a student? Then you can join him or her as a guest for $50.
Photo courtesy of the University of Michigan Golf Course
Shepherd's Hollow Golf Club, Clarkston
Built on a perfect piece of land once reserved by the Jesuits as a retreat for their Detroit-area monks, Shepherd's Hollow offers 27 holes of big, broad and playable adventure by designer Arthur Hills. At $65 for a weekend round, it might be one of the best bargains you can find for a Golf Digest 100 Best Public in a metro area.