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3.7
57 Reviews (57)
5 Stars
4
4 Stars
12
3 Stars
3
2 Stars
4
1 Stars
34
Conditions
3.6
Value
4.5
Layout
4.8
Friendliness
4.8
Pace
4.9
Amenities
3.7
88.4%
Recommend this course
18 out of 57 reviews
Read Reviews
Average Rating
Avg Rating
4.0
1 Reviews (1)
5 Stars
0
4 Stars
1
3 Stars
0
2 Stars
0
1 Stars
0
Conditions
4.0
Value
5.0
Layout
5.0
Pace
5.0
Amenities
4.0
StaffFriendliness
5.0
100.0%
Recommend this course
1 out of 1 reviews
Read Reviews
Average Rating
Avg Rating
4.0
1 Reviews (1)
5 Stars
0
4 Stars
1
3 Stars
0
2 Stars
0
1 Stars
0
Conditions
4.0
Value
5.0
Layout
5.0
Pace
5.0
Amenities
4.0
StaffFriendliness
5.0
100.0%
Recommend this course
1 out of 1 reviews
Read Reviews

About

Holes 18
Type Resort
Par 73
Length 7044 yards
Slope 147
Rating 74.3

Editor's Note: Course closed for business in 2018.

The Black Forest Course at Wilderness Valley boasts one of the most challenging layouts in northern Michigan. It is one of two championship golf courses at the Wilderness Valley Resort. Black Forest is the more challenging of the two, featuring greens that will test even the most seasoned golfers. The course tumbles across rolling hills that provide a variety of elevation changes ranging from subtle to dramatic. There are also a slew of strategically placed bunkers along the undulating greens. Accuracy on both your tee shots and approaches is essential throughout. Its sister golf course, Wilderness Valley, is a nice complement since it offers the same terrain but with a more playable character. It's an alternative option for high handicappers who aren't ready for the intimidating Black Forest Course.

Course Details

Year Built 1991
Golf Season Open: 3/15 Closed: 11/01
Architect Tom Doak (1991)

Rentals/Services

Carts Yes
Clubs Yes
GPS No
Pull-carts Yes

Practice/Instruction

Driving Range Yes
Bunker Yes
Caddies No
Golf Simulator No
Teaching Pro Yes
Pitching/Chipping Area Yes
Putting Green Yes
Practice Hole No

Policies

Credit Cards Accepted VISA, MasterCard, Amex, Discover Welcomed
Metal Spikes Allowed No
Walking Allowed Yes

Food & Beverage

Restaurant

Available Facilities

Clubhouse

Reviews

3.7
57 Reviews (57)

What Golfers Are Saying

Course Challenges Include:
Bunkers 7
Elevation Changes 6
Undulating Greens 6

Numbers based on reviews tagged with attribute.

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Overall Rating
Recommended
Handicap
Age
Type of Golfer
Gender
Played On
Reviews 263
Skill Advanced
Plays Once a week
I Recommend This Course
4.0
Michigan Advisor
Top 10 Contributor
First Time Playing
Perfect weather
Used cart

First Doak Course I played

This was the first Tom Doak designed course that I played. It was designed to be an extremely difficult resort course and contrast the Wilderness Valley course at the Owner's direction. The greens were absolutely wild and some of the bunkering even wilder. I only played it one time, but what a treat it was.

Conditions Good
Value Excellent
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Excellent
Amenities Good
Difficulty Extremely Challenging
Played On
Reviews 380
Handicap 10-14
Skill Advanced
Plays A few times a week
1.0
Illinois Advisor
Top 10 Contributor
Previously Played
Cold weather
Used cart

FYI - Likely closed forever hope not!

https://www.petoskeynews.com/gaylord/featured-ght/black-forest-wilderness-valley-auctioned-off-by-irs/article_f0d75ad2-8504-5fc4-9c73-405e969b55d2.html

Conditions Poor
Value Poor
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Poor
Pace Excellent
Amenities Poor
Difficulty Extremely Challenging
Played On
Reviews 2
Handicap 10-14
Skill Intermediate
Plays Once a week
1.0
Previously Played
Hot weather
Used cart

played last year and course was bad. got offered 4 rounds at $10 each probably to attract back business as they said course would be back in shape by end of May.
Went and played in late June and course was worse. Too bad as they have a nice layout and if maintained would be good course but never going back.

Conditions Poor
Value Poor
Layout Good
Friendliness Average
Pace Excellent
Difficulty Moderate
Played On
Reviews 26
Handicap 10-14
Skill Intermediate
Plays A few times a week
1.0
Verified Purchaser
Previously Played

It Really is The “Black” Forest!

I’ve played this course several times in years past and loved it. It’s been over 6 years ago and now it is in total ruin. It was like teeing off in some kind of horror movie of where zombies may be the grounds keepers because everything was unkept and dead. Damaged everything. Sure hope someone can bring this course back to life.

Conditions Poor
Value Poor
Layout Good
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Excellent
Amenities Good
Played On
Reviews 29
Handicap 25+
Skill Intermediate
Plays A few times a week
1.0
Verified Purchaser
Previously Played
Perfect weather
Used cart

If You Can't Say Something Nice...

Extremely poor course; tee boxes were horrible; fairways were covered with dandelions and scorched from lack of water. The greens were just as bad. Some had been mowed, but to the wrong length, and made putting an adventure. Nothing appeared to have been watered? No water, no facilities on the course (you play the entire 18 holes before getting back to the clubhouse). We gave it a second chance, and won't be going back. The price is fair from a bargain! For what we encountered, $20.00 would be too much!

Conditions Poor
Value Poor
Layout Average
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Good
Amenities Poor
Difficulty Moderate
Played On
Reviews 380
Handicap 10-14
Skill Advanced
Plays A few times a week
1.0
Illinois Advisor
Top 10 Contributor
Previously Played
Perfect weather
Used cart

Deplorable and I'm crying

An open letter to Mr. Tom Doak -

"Played" the Forest for the first time since September of 2015. Since you live in Traverse City please strongly consider buying it and bring it back to it's former glory. The genius of your routing and design always had me coming back for more. Your oldest masterpiece is almost gone to the point where it can't be saved and it should be. Thank you for your consideration - all golfers would flock back to it.

I was the only golfer on the course on a perfect Thursday afternoon. The pictures I've posted tell the true story. Nil improvements despite the owners comments....it's far worse than I could have imagined. I can't return nor could I encourage others to do so.

I still have 5 prepaid round cards I bought years ago. If anyone is interested and wants to send me a couple of bucks for postage put your e-mail addy in the comments section below and I'll contact you send you a couple of them or all of them (as long as they are open....they may not make it through this year). The tee shots and approach shots are still there but Black Forest is essentially 18 holes in the ground. The other course Wilderness Valley is the same shape as well. Fond memories of the glory days when the conditions were wonderful....it was just too much for me to take. Enough said.

Conditions Poor
Value Poor
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Average
Pace Excellent
Amenities Poor
Difficulty Extremely Challenging
Played On
Reviews 2
Skill Advanced
Plays A few times a week
1.0
Verified Purchaser
Previously Played

Great layout! Poor Maintenance.

This course is in Gaylord, Michigan, a mecca for golf in this State. The overall condotion of the course was poor at best. Tee boxes were weedy. Championship tees seemed abandoned as grass hadn't been cut recently and tee markers were absent. Fairways were mostly weedy and had lots of bare areas. Greens were suffering from what looked like a fungus. Many had bare spots. On the plus side, this course was perhaps the best we ever played with regard to placement of the forward tees to give a fair balance to less skilled golfers.

Conditions Poor
Value Fair
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Good
Pace Excellent
Amenities Poor
Default User Avatar
Commented on 03/05/2018

We have been renovating during the off season and welcome you back to see the progress this year!

Played On
Reviews 1
Skill Intermediate
Plays Once a week
1.0
Verified Purchaser
First Time Playing

Horrible conditions

Played Wilderness Valley last year and it was in terrible not the current ratescondition, so this weekend thought we would try Black Forest as it is supposed to be the better of the two courses, bad decision as it was in as bad or worse condition. Sand traps don't look like they have been raked in years, more gravel than sand. More weeds than grass almost on the greens. I will say the layout is very nice but I would not spend the money here. Great potential but needs a lot of work for the money they charge. $25 maybe, paid $40 each with GolfNow and that was way too much, feel sorry if anyone paid full price

Conditions Poor
Value Poor
Layout Good
Friendliness Poor
Pace Good
Amenities Poor
Default User Avatar
Commented on 03/05/2018

During this off season we have made improvements to our course and have been renovating. We hope you visit us this year to see our progress!

Played On
Reviews 7
Handicap 15-19
Skill Intermediate
Plays A few times a week
1.0
Previously Played

An Embarrassment to Gaylord Golf

We had a large group arrive at 830 AM on a Saturday in August with sunny weather and temperatures in the 70's and this place was literally empty; that should have told us what we needed to know! There was one(!!) kid running the entire complex (pro shop, bar, carts, etc. when we arrived, which delayed our tee off.

Once we did tee off, the course looked like something out of a post-apocalypse movie. Over grown fairways, weeds in the bunkers, bare spots on the greens, etc. it was awful. I have seen some of the course feedback on some poor reviews on this and other web sites; they claim they are making up for some bad weather two years ago. This is blatantly untrue; I golfed this course in 2015, the first season following all of the supposed weather damage that they blame the course condition on; and the course was in indisputably better condition at that time.

This course in the right hands should be a bucket list type of play due to the wonderful terrain it is built on, however whether it be due to a lack of money or effort from management, it is a far cry from that at this point.

Conditions Poor
Value Poor
Layout Good
Friendliness Poor
Pace Fair
Amenities Poor
Default User Avatar
Commented on 03/05/2018

We have been working on improving the course during this off season, including renovation. We hope you visit us throughout 2018 to view the progress we have made.

Played On
Reviews 2
Handicap 10-14
Skill Intermediate
Plays A few times a week
1.0
First Time Playing

You Decide

It was hard to believe they even charge to play this course! Their usual rate is $65.00 but we reserved ahead of time for $37.50 to play on Black Forest. I only wish I could post the photos I took. The sand traps were full of weeds...you could not hit your ball out due to of the growth of all the weeds and stone. The greens were bumpy and had died out. IT WAS A MESS! There are too many courses that are beautiful to play in this.area. Frankly, they should have paid us to play there.

I guess you will have to decide if this is the course you want to play, but remember you have been warned!

Hit them long and straight!

Conditions Poor
Value Poor
Layout Poor
Friendliness Poor
Amenities Poor
Default User Avatar
Commented on 09/05/2017

Discounted rates?????? It's posted on there website at $65, we thought we got a deal with GolfNow for $38 but that was even $20 too high. How do they say discounted rates?? Wow. Could be a great course if it ever gets back to green.

Default User Avatar
Commented on 08/15/2017

We have been discounting rates this summer while working to improve conditions. We feel there is value in the unique design, but we continue to improve and hope you'll consider giving us another shot in the future.

Played On
Reviews 1
Skill Advanced
Plays A few times a week
1.0
Verified Purchaser
Previously Played

Deplorable conditions

This has to be the worst maintain golf course in all of Michigan the grass on the Teebox was not cut the weeds were up to your knees in the middle of Fairway and the Teebox the greens were dead what wasn't dead wasn't even grass was weeds that were mow down

Conditions Poor
Value Poor
Layout Good
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Average
Amenities Poor
Default User Avatar
Commented on 08/15/2017

We apologize that conditions were not up to your standards. We are working hard to make improvements.

Played On
Reviews 1
Skill Advanced
Plays A few times a week
1.0
Verified Purchaser
First Time Playing

Endless potential. Zero upkeep

This course design is excellent, but the upkeep was poor. The green are dying, the bunkers are full of stones and weeds, and the tee boxes are sparse at best.

Conditions Poor
Value Poor
Layout Good
Friendliness Average
Pace Average
Amenities Average
Default User Avatar
Commented on 08/15/2017

Thank you for noting the positives in course design. We continue to work toward improving course conditions through the season and are sorry that the course did not meet your standards.

Played On
Reviews 1
Handicap 15-19
Skill Intermediate
Plays A few times a week
1.0
Verified Purchaser
First Time Playing
Perfect weather
Used cart

All I can say is, I am surprised a course in that shape is open to the public

Conditions Poor
Value Poor
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Good
Pace Excellent
Amenities Poor
Difficulty Somewhat Challenging
Default User Avatar
Commented on 08/15/2017

We apologize the course did not meet your standards. We continue to work to make improvements.

Played On
Reviews 34
Handicap 5-9
Skill Advanced
Plays A few times a week
1.0
Previously Played
Hot weather
Used cart

Course should be CLOSED, For Good!

Purchased a $59 Unlimited pass because David Smith, course owner, claimed the course was getting back to its original beauty. I was surely fooled on this one.

The #1 Fairway on BF had numerous bare spots with live traps to rid them of a skunk problem. Multiple fairways were brown and cracking, while most of the greens had bare spots, brown, weeds, etc. Un-puttable. The rough hasn't even been mowed what looks like since the season started. Some areas its 8-12" tall. What a joke.

I used to love this course 10 years ago, and it's sad to see the point it has reached now. David Smith told me upon arriving that it was better than it was back in '15 when I thought it couldnt get any worse. I was wrong again. I will NEVER return to this course and not spend another dime there. I almost feel bad taking the time to write a junk review.

The only glimmer of hope is if this course closes to the public while the original gem is restored. But thats a long shot.

Conditions Poor
Value Poor
Layout Good
Friendliness Good
Pace Good
Amenities Fair
Difficulty Somewhat Challenging
Default User Avatar
Commented on 08/15/2017

Lefty,

We're disappointed to receive your review and we are truly sorry for your last experience if you felt that you were fooled for the unlimited pass - that is surely not our intention. We have lowered prices while the course is still under reparations. We stand by the fact that there have been strides in improvements since '15 and we will continue to put in the effort. We are sorry to lose your support but hope there's a chance to gain it back after working through the year.

Played On
Reviews 6
Handicap 20-24
Skill Intermediate
Plays A few times a week
2.0
Verified Purchaser
First Time Playing

"Wildness "

Course was not well kept. Bare spots on fairways. Directional sign and cart path were nonexistent or confusing . No halfway house or facilities.

Conditions Fair
Value Fair
Layout Good
Friendliness Fair
Pace Average
Amenities Poor
Default User Avatar
Commented on 08/15/2017

We are working through the season to improve conditions and we are sorry the course did not meet your standards. We hope you will consider visiting again in the future upon improvements.

Played On
Reviews 1
1.0
First Time Playing

Course should be closed

This course is obviously under no management or maintenance. The "fairways" are almost non-existent. Weeds are everywhere and the rough isn't being touched. There were live traps on one fairway! They are currently charging spring rates but after complaining about the conditions, we asked for 1/2 of our money back. The employee did so.

The gentleman in the club was pleasant and we suspect we are not the first to note the conditions of the course to him.

This course really should be closed. I've seen municipal courses in much better condition that charge far less.

Conditions Poor
Value Poor
Layout Good
Friendliness Fair
Pace Fair
Amenities Poor
Default User Avatar
Commented on 08/15/2017

The course has been in my family's management since the 70's. We have faced a challenging year of disease and maintenance but we continue to work toward improving conditions. We are very sorry that the course did not meet your expectations and hope that you can give us a second chance in the future. We appreciate you noting pleasant customer service. Thank you for your feedback.

Played On
Reviews 1
Handicap 15-19
Skill Intermediate
Plays Once a week
1.0
Previously Played
Wet weather
Used cart

Charging greens fees for this may be criminal

I have played Black Forest about 20 times over the years and always enjoyed the course.
To say I was shocked at the condition of this course would be a gross understatement. It appears there has not been a mower on this course in weeks if not months. The greens were loaded with ant hills that had been undesturbed for so long that there was no longer grass growing under them. The fairways had patches of grass that were over a foot tall and going to seed. The tee boxes and roughs had tall weeds growing on them.
It is obvious that the facility must be facing major financial challenges but to continue to charge greens fees for this is misrepresenting what the facility actually is.
Golf Now should drop Black Forest from their offerings to prevent their customers from facing similar dissapointment. We had a twosome play through that had booked their round on Golf Now and they were shocked at the condition of the course.

Conditions Poor
Value Poor
Layout Good
Friendliness Average
Pace Good
Amenities Poor
Difficulty Somewhat Challenging
Default User Avatar
Commented on 08/15/2017

We have had a challenging year but we continue to seek improvements. We are disappointed to hear that we didn't meet your expectations but we hope you can continue to support us in the future upon making course improvements.

Played On
Reviews 1
Skill Intermediate
Plays A few times a week
1.0
First Time Playing

Absolutely Terrible Course Condition

I was extremely disappointed in the condition of the course. Greens were patchy, diseased, and covered with ant hills. Fairways looked like they hadn't been mowed in weeks. "Rough" was just unkempt weeds and long grass. Four sets of tees listed but only two sets actually set up. Scorecard claims "Top 10 course in michigan" which is either a blatant lie or an extremely outdated claim. For your $45 greens fee you're better served playing literally any other course in Michigan and maybe the country for that matter. Don't waste a day here.

Conditions Poor
Value Poor
Layout Average
Friendliness Average
Pace Fair
Amenities Poor
Default User Avatar
Commented on 08/15/2017

We are very disappointed we did not meet your expectations. We will continue to put in work through the season to improve conditions despite the poor reviews. We hope you'll consider giving us another shot in the future.

Played On
Reviews 34
Handicap 5-9
Skill Advanced
Plays A few times a week
1.0
Previously Played
Hot weather
Used cart

The Final Straw Severed??

Assuming the course finally shut its own doors, bankrupt, etc??? Just curious because the website is no longer in service. Any feedback would be helpful

Conditions Poor
Value Poor
Layout Poor
Friendliness Poor
Pace Poor
Amenities Poor
Difficulty Extremely Easy
Played On
Reviews 1
Skill Intermediate
Plays Once a week
1.0
First Time Playing

Sad, bet it was nice at one point but certainly not now!

This past weekend my friend and I redeemed our unlimited golf package with a BBQ lunch that we purchased at the midland golf show at Northwood University. We were tremendously disappointed with the condition of the two courses. We travelled 2 and half hours to experience your courses with high hopes. Not only were the courses very poorly maintained (tee boxes messy and uncut, greens diseased and uncut, bunkers not touched since last season), and there was no BBQ lunch whatsoever. Your staff was clearly not ready to honor our "golf show specials" that we purchased, nor wer your courses. I wished you had been forthright with the conditions of your courses and given us the option to redeem our coupons at a later date. Although I feel you are in jeopardy of losing your courses for good, given their current conditions, I would have appreciated the heads up and at least given you a chance to improve their conditions. Very disappointing.

Conditions Poor
Value Poor
Layout Average
Friendliness Fair
Pace Excellent
Amenities Poor
Default User Avatar
Commented on 05/30/2017

Hey bud, I also purchased the golf show special. So I have to endure the same thing you went through?? Not looking forward to it now. Did you take any pictures of the horrendous conditions?

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