Traverse City, Michigan bound? Enjoy its five best golf courses

Over the past decade, Traverse City has separated from the pack as northern Michigan's most trendy, tourist-friendly city.

The waterfront towns of Petoskey, Harbor Springs and Charlevoix are nice, although none can match Traverse City's diverse collection of restaurants, bars, downtown shops, beaches, festivals, art scene, wineries (a half-hour's drive to the Leelanau Peninsula), golf courses and a casino.

Golfers have plenty of choices. An oversupply of courses brought about some casualties during the recession. High Pointe Golf Club, Tom Doak's first design, closed for good in 2009, and LochenHeath Golf Club and the King's Challenge (now called Manitou Passage) shut down for extended periods of time as well. A slow but steady rebound has the local golf scene looking up.

Here are the five best places to play golf in the Traverse City area:

The Bear at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, Acme

The Bear Course at Grand Traverse, designed by Jack Nicklaus in 1985, can be a menace for golfers who spray it off the tee. Wisely, management softened this long-time former venue of the Michigan Open over the years to make it more enjoyable for all.

Playing from fairway bunkers and mounds carpeted in shaggy rough defeat any hope of a good shot to equally demanding greens. Players who make cautious moves can shoot a solid score, though.

This revived Arnold Palmer design, operated as an amenity of The Homestead in nearby Glen Arbor, has come a long way since a rebirth in 2009. The cosmetic changes to the clubhouse and par-71, 6,724-yard course create a wonderfully serene atmosphere for golf.

The highlights are Manitou Passage Golf Club's three par 5s, including the demanding eighth hole that tumbles downhill like a ski slope. The view from its elevated tee box inspired the course's new name.

Kingsley Club, Kingsley

The Kingsley Club, located 16 miles south of Traverse City, remains private. A simple call from your head professional can essentially unlock a tee time.

Mike DeVries, an Alister MacKenzie disciple, routed a firm-and-fast ride through rolling hills. The greens can be downright frightening and fast in the heat of summer.

Gary Player's Wolverine Course at Grand Traverse delivers the playable ying to The Bear's tournament-tough yang.

Some of the best holes on the property zigzag through the wetlands of the front nine. The back nine skirts a vineyard.

LochenHeath Golf Club, Williamsburg

LochenHeath Golf Club appears to have shaken its checkered past. Original architect Steve Smyers returned in 2004, three years after it opened, to tweak the routing, attempting to make it more playable.

After a failed attempt as a private club, the 7,239-yard course closed from 2009-2011. A first-class presentation these days has revived interest, however.

Carved from an old cherry orchard, LochenHeath mixes an open meadow feel with traditional northern woods. Unique bunkering spices up its visual appeal. Glimpses of Grand Traverse Bay come from the drivable, par-4 sixth hole and the deck of the remodeled clubhouse.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 1,000 courses and golf destinations 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 @jasondeegangolfadvisor and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
Related Links
The private Kingsley Club, located 20 minutes south of Traverse City, is the second-best private golf club in northern Michigan. Jason Scott Deegan tells how -- and why -- to play it.
9 Images
It isn't until you've narrowed down your next summer golf trip to the destination of northern Michigan that the real decisions begin. Here are 10 of the best options for northern Michigan golf resorts and what sets each apart.
6 Min Read
More from the author
1 Min Read
October 18, 2021
Golf can feel cruel when the ball hangs on the lip of the hole. It's even more so when a penalty's involved.
3 Min Read
October 18, 2021
The opening of Hay's Place beside the new Tiger Woods-designed par-3 course brings a new energy to golf's most famous resort.
3 Min Read
October 14, 2021
The wild and wavy North Course complements the Australian Sandbelt look of the acclaimed South Course near Oakland's airport.
4 Min Read
October 14, 2021
Comfort stations have become the new norm at exclusive private clubs like The Summit, which makes its PGA Tour debut this weekend.
5 Min Read
October 6, 2021
Kauai has fewer than half the courses of Oahu, Maui and the Big Island, but the quality is top notch.
3 Min Read
October 4, 2021
The number of publicly accessible tournament venues will shrink during the 2021-22 PGA Tour schedule as the majors move to private clubs.
3 Min Read
October 4, 2021
America's largest golf resort, and one of its smallest, are expanding to enhance the guest experience.
9 Min Read
September 23, 2021
We've crafted a Dream 18 from the most exciting holes in American public golf.
4 Min Read
October 18, 2021
Slight cooling of Pacific Ocean waters increases likelihood of abnormal weather in major golf destinations.
2 Min Read
September 21, 2021
Bernhard Langer recalls the turning point that led to a European wave at the Ryder Cup matches
Load More
Now Reading
Traverse City, Michigan bound? Enjoy its five best golf courses