As I go through each of the hundreds of photos I shot on my recent trip to northern Michigan I relive the fun and enjoyment of each shot on each golf hole. Today I’m reviewing the “Signature” course at Treetops Resort in Gaylord, Michigan. Treetops is a fantastic golf/ski resort in northern Michigan which is home to five courses. For links to the other courses I’ve reviewed at Treetops, see the “related links” section at the end of this review.
Treetops Signature Overview
The Signature course at Treetops was designed by Rick Smith and opened in 1993. You may remember Rick as the first Big Break co-host and more recently as one of Phil Mickelson’s coaches. Rick is one of the top golf instructors on the planet.
The course is a par-70 track which measures out at 6,653 from the back (Black) tees. The Black tees are one of five sets. The course is not long by modern standards, but that does not in any way mean this course is not challenging or enjoyable to play. In fact, it just might be my favorite course at Treetops. Slope from the tips is 136 with a course rating of 72.6.
From the first hole players get the flavor for how fun tee shots are at the Signature course. Most tee boxes feature large elevation changes and frame up beautifully with the thick and tall trees on the sides, and the northern Michigan horizon miles away. The best club to pull for the tee shots is possibly a Nikon or a Canon, depending on which way you lean.
Tee shots aren’t just scenic. With the large elevation changes, club selection, especially on par-3 holes, is challenging and fun. Par-3 holes like the 176 yard 2nd, can have as many as a three club variance due to the large drop in altitude from tee to green.
Fairways at the Signature course are not hard to hit. They’re fairly wide. If the driver is not working well the forest awaits however. Errant drives which do miss the fairway will be severely penalized by the dense and thick forest.
Sloping on the fairways is not extreme. Most lies are fairly flat until the finishing holes coming home, back up the hill. Positioning in the fairways isn’t mission critical as most lies in the short grass will give the player a decent shot at the green, but some holes with sharper doglegs like the par-4 3rd call for better placement for the best approach.
Greens at the Signature course are not overly difficult. 2-putting from most areas is not out of the question.
Most greens have distinct sections making approach shots important for scoring. A good example is the par-5 15th hole (pictured below), which is very narrow and features one large tier in the first third of the green. A long approach to the back of the green when the pin is in the front can lead to an extremely long putt which must be perfectly placed to the top of the tier, just enough for it to pick up speed to the pin.
Most greens give the player options in the short game for missed approaches. Shots around the green can range from high shots to links style runners. A couple of holes, like the final 18th however, don’t allow run-up shots and will test (like they did for me) the player’s chipping ability from steep slopes with thicker rough.
The amenities at the Treetops Signature course are shared with the other four courses on the property. There is a large clubhouse with locker rooms, restaurant, pro shop etc. The practice range is large as is the practice green.
A very short drive down the road is the Treetops Resort lodge.
The Signature course at Treetops is an enjoyable round waiting to happen. The course provides a challenge, but doesn’t send you home feeling like you just got beat up in a UFC fight. The wide and forgiving fairways and subtle undulations in most of the greens make for scoring opportunities. Last but not least are the fantastic conditioning and beautiful area the course rests in. I loved being on the property and soaking it all in.