Renovated Crooked Tree Golf Club reopens across the street from the Inn at Bay Harbor in northern Michigan

PETOSKEY, Mich. -- The upgraded Crooked Tree Golf Club has finally reopened in northern Michigan after a renovation that Mother Nature made more challenging than anticipated.

A rugged winter and heavy spring rains delayed the debut of the three finishing holes redesigned by Arthur Hills. They opened in late June more player friendly and strategic than ever. The original Harry Bowers design dating to 1991 still needs a few more tweaks to become a course worthy of the views of the Little Traverse Bay across the street, but this was the necessary first step.

Bernie Friedrich, Boyne USA Resorts’ senior vice president of golf and retail, said last fall that work on several holes on the front nine and the driving range could begin later this year.

"The reason we felt that we had to do those three holes -- they were the weakest holes -- was to make the experience better," he said. "Being (holes) 16, 17 and 18, that left a bad taste in people’s mouth."

The 6,712-yard, par-71 Crooked Tree, perched high on a bluff, will always play Robin to the Batman closer to the shore, the 27-hole Bay Harbor Golf Club, another Hills creation. Together, they give guests at the Inn at Bay Harbor a nice 1-2 combination during a weekend of golf. Both are tough target tests with relatively high slope ratings and views to spare. Hills and his associates softened Crooked Tree to attract a wider audience of players.

The 16th fairway has been reshaped with a new, smaller green repositioned near a pond. Two sets of tees have been added to the par-5 17th hole, stretching to 585 yards. The fairway has also been reworked, a ravine filled in, and the green lowered and relocated. The final fairway of the par-4 18th shifted to the right. Its new, less-undulating green offers more pin placements. Several original greenside bunkers shrank in size or were taken out.

"It’s playable. It’s much better," Friedrich said of the changes. "With the new finishing holes like that, they will complement the beautiful views from the rest of the golf holes."

Not many people realize that Boyne offers two- and three-bedroom cottages at Crooked Tree. These more spacious accommodations allow for longer stays and the ability to get to know the revamped Crooked Tree a little more intimately.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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Renovated Crooked Tree Golf Club reopens across the street from the Inn at Bay Harbor in northern Michigan