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. (more…)
Any regular visitor to this golf web site knows I’m a big Tom Doak fan. If you don’t know, Tom Doak is a leading golf course architect who has designed many great tracks. I’ve had the pleasure of playing several and really enjoy them. When I had the opportunity to play a Doak design in northern Michigan I jumped at the chance. A wise jump, no doubt.
Black Forest Golf Course – Gaylord, Michigan – Tom Doak Design
Black Forest Golf Course Overview
Black Forest is located in Gaylord, Michigan. The Gaylord area in northern Michigan is a golf mecca. The terrain, deep and dense forest and climate make for fantastic quality golf.
The course opened back in 1992 and was the first for Doak. Hell of a start I’d say. This par-73 (yes you read that right) course occupies roughly 400 acres. For reference, Augusta National (home of the Masters) occupies about 360. Total yardage from the Black tees (the tips) is 7,044. Black Forest is not long by modern standards, but this course is not all about length. Rating from the tips is 74.3 with a slope of 147. Don’t let the tough rating scare you from playing the track though. There are five sets of tees for players of all ability levels.
Since its opening Black Forest has earned many awards like “Top New Public Courses in America” by Golf Digest and “Best Public Course in Northern Michigan” by Detroit News. (more…)
Famed golf course architect Tom Fazio has one design in Michigan, the Premier Course at Treetops Resort in Gaylord, Michigan. The Premier Course is one of five courses at Treetops Resort.
Premier Course Overview
The Premier Course is a 6,832 yard, par-72 layout which fully takes advantage of the very interesting northern Michigan terrain with its dense forest, large elevation changes and great views. The course opened in 1992. Current prices for play vary depending on the season, ranging from $65-$145.
Speaking of the season, Treetops is also a ski resort in the winter, so the course is obviously not open all year. Generally, the course is open from April 30 to October 31.
Tom Fazio tees almost always present an aesthetically pleasing look. Premier targets frame up nicely from the tee, typically with the dense northern Michigan forest lining each side. There is a wide variation of hole shapes which asks the better player to be able to hit draws, fades and the ever difficult straight ball.
From the par-4 first tee the player experiences an immediate dose of the elevation changes. Right off the bat there’s a very large drop which tempts you into swinging even harder with your driver. No need though, a regular swing will gain extra yards due to the elevation change. (more…)
How many dog-track par-3 courses are in your neck of the woods? When considering par-3 courses, one doesn’t think of a top resort or golf travel destination. I used to think of “Paul’s Par-3,” a very low budget track which fetches $2.00 on weekdays and $5.00 on weekends, payable through a donation envelope deposited into a slit in a steel pole by the first tee. There’s no pro shop.
Treetops Par-3 Course, “3Tops” – Click for more…
Following my thorough examination of Treetops Resort in Gaylord, Michigan, my view of par-3s has completely changed. I had so much fun playing the par-3 course at Treetops, called “3Tops,” that I’d rather play that course over countless 18 hole par-72 tracks.
3Tops has 9 par-3 holes ranging from 90 yards to as long as 220+ yards. The elevation changes are absolutely stunning. Bring your camera. Many holes have elevation drops which can call for as many as 4 clubs worth of distance. The 220+ yard 3rd hole for instance, had a drop which I estimate to be over 100 feet. For that tee shot 7-irons were hitting pin high, after being airborne for somewhere around 22 minutes.
The course design is wonderful and fun, winding up and down large hills. Add plush green grass, white sand bunkers, and dense forest framing up the holes, and the result is a complete winner. In fact the track is widely known as the best par-3 course in America. I’ve toured the par-3 at Augusta National Golf Club and 3Tops is every bit as beautiful and surely more challenging with the massive elevation changes.
Treetops Par-3 Course – click for more
I tried my hardest to reproduce the $1,000,000+ hole-in-one Lee Trevino carded on the 140 yard 7th hole. Trevino aced it during the Par-3 Shootout on ESPN back in 2007. My gap wedge hit about 3-4 feet from the back pin. Unfortunately the ball spun back an incredible 24 yards. I was happy to make a par. No million dollar prize for me, but I did enter the Michigan lottery. You never know. Check out the video below documenting the shot:
Conclusion – 3Tops at Treetops IS Tops!
A round of golf on 3Tops runs $50. Not cheap for a par value of 27. But in that nine holes is enough fun to cover 18 regular holes or more, plus rounds clock in at around a hour. As a bonus, the chance of making one’s own ace, whether for a million bucks or $2 worth of 50 cent skins, is increased by more than double over a standard 18 hole track.
A couple of weeks ago I was down in southern Utah to visit the spectacular Sand Hollow 27 hole facility and the Oasis Palmer Course in Mesquite, Nevada. During my travels I found a new course, “Free High Speed Wireless Internet Mini Golf.”
Entrance to Free High Speed Wireless Internet Mini Golf. Love the desert landscape.
Free High Speed Wireless Internet Mini Golf is located in the desert of southern Utah, a few miles northeast of Sand Hollow Resort in the town of Hurricane (pronounced “her-uh-kn” by the locals). The course is part of the Comfort Inn facility, located in the desert behind the motel.
The desert area around the course provides great scenery, as well as presenting a challenge to the player if his ball finds the native areas outside the hole boundaries. I recommend playing the course in the early morning like I did. The lighting can be fantastic.
I was unable to get much information on the course designer. No name available. The only other course I’ve played in which I couldn’t get a designer’s name was the Old Course in St. Andrews.
Certain missing qualities in the layout do tell me that this isn’t a Tom Fazio design. There are a few elements of Robert Trent Jones II, Tom Doak and Olympic designer Gil Hanse, but those are overshadowed by traits more similar to a Coore/Crenshaw layout. With many holes lined by bricks, one might think this is a Pete Dye design (bricks instead of railroad ties).
Regardless of who designed Free High Speed Wireless Internet Mini Golf, the architect did a fine job utilizing the existing landscape and shapes in the terrain to route a challenging and aesthetically pleasing 18 hole layout.
From the tee the course can be intimidating and visually menacing. It is hard to stay focused on the target and not the hazards which penalize bad shots. The hole shapes and routing force the player to work the ball both directions from the tee, with a few holes requiring the hardest shot in golf, the straight ball.
From the first tee (pictured above) to the last, Free High Speed Wireless Internet Mini Golf is very challenging. I love how the designer brings the natural desert vegetation into play (left of tee).
The fairways at Free High Speed Wireless Internet Mini Golf are extremely tight. Landing areas average only about 3-4 feet in width. Tee shots which don’t find the fairway will find the native desert area. Snakes, bunnies, cacti, sagebrush, tumbleweeds and random wind-blown trash will make recovery shots difficult. Missing the fairway at Free High Speed Wireless Internet Mini Golf is a quick way to make bogey or worse.
The most notable fairway is the quadruple dogleg 6th, pictured below.
Hard to keep it in the fairway on the quadruple-dogleg 6th hole. As you can see, my conservative tee shot did make the fairway, but the next shot is extremely challenging.
The greens at Free High Speed Wireless Internet Mini Golf are perhaps the greatest challenge. Many obstacles and slopes require the utmost in concentration and putting skill. Two-putting is more than acceptable and one-putts will gain many strokes on the field.
Don’t let this short hole and easy looking green deceive you. This is a tough hole.
Perhaps the best part of playing Free High Speed Wireless Internet Mini Golf is the price. Unlike many resort courses which can range anywhere from $150-$500 per round, Free High Speed Wireless Internet Mini Golf runs $2.00.
Caddies are available upon request.
This course is a hidden gem in the Utah desert. Not a long drive from Sand Hollow or Coral Canyon, Free High Speed Wireless Internet Mini Golf will give all aspects of a player’s game a fine test. Combine that with the fantastic scenery of the area and the very reasonable price and the result is a winner.