Black Forest Course at Wilderness Valley: Tom Doak delivers in Gaylord | Michigan Golf
Wilderness Valley - Black Forest golf course - hole 18
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Wilderness Valley - Black Forest golf course - hole 18
With plenty of difficult bunkers and confounding greens, Tom Doak's Black Forest golf course at Wilderness Valley tests patience as well as skill. Courtesy of Wilderness Valley
Wilderness Valley - Black Forest golf course - hole 2
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Wilderness Valley - Black Forest golf course - hole 2
The second hole on the Black Forest Course at Wilderness Valley is a long, difficult dogleg right par 4. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Wilderness Valley - Black Forest golf course - hole 3
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Wilderness Valley - Black Forest golf course - hole 3
Big hitters who can drive it accurately can catch the down slope and get close to the green on the 374-yard, par-4 third on the Black Forest Course at Wilderness Valley in Gaylord, Mich. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Wilderness Valley - Black Forest golf course - hole 4
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Wilderness Valley - Black Forest golf course - hole 4
Even the flatter greens on Tom Doak's Black Forest Course at Wilderness Valley can be difficult to read. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Wilderness Valley - Black Forest G.C. - hole 9
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Wilderness Valley - Black Forest G.C. - hole 9
The par-4 ninth on the Black Forest G.C. at Wilderness Valley is short, but there are plenty of treacherous bunkers protecting the green. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Wilderness Valley - Black Forest golf course - hole 12
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Wilderness Valley - Black Forest golf course - hole 12
The par-3 12th on the Black Forest golf course at Wilderness Valley in Gaylord, Mich. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Wilderness Valley - Black Forest golf course - hole 15
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Wilderness Valley - Black Forest golf course - hole 15
The green on the par-3 15th on the Black Forest Course at Wilderness Valley slopes away from players. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Wilderness Valley - Black Forest golf course - hole 18
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Wilderness Valley - Black Forest golf course - hole 18
While some of the greens are subtle on the Black Forest Course at Wilderness Valley, others, such as the 18th, are not. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
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Tom Doak shows his 'minimalist' approach on the Black Forest golf course at Wilderness Valley in Gaylord, Michigan

GAYLORD, Mich. -- The Black Forest Course at Wilderness Valley is renowned architect Tom Doak's second design and the first to really exemplify his "minimalist" approach.

The golf course, which opened in 1992, is set on 400 acres of native Michigan evergreen and hardwood forests and cuts through the land naturally.

Where Doak gets golfers is on the greens and in the bunkering. The greens have that classic look, like they were crafted by hand rather than machinery, making them difficult to read. Many of the breaks are subtle and many of the putts have multiple breaks, including tricky ones around the holes.

There are more than 100 bunkers on the course and no two look alike. They are true hazards, so they are to be avoided at almost any cost.

Each hole is independent of each other and there are no homes on the course. From the tips, it will play more than 7,000 yards, but power isn't the key to success. Golfers must manage this par 72 with careful club selection, calculated misses and a keen short game.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

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Tom Doak shows his 'minimalist' approach on the Black Forest golf course at Wilderness Valley in Gaylord, Michigan