In an 18 hour period I played 36 holes on two golf different golf courses that were the same golf course. Sound confusing? I played the Red and Black courses which comprise Forest Dunes’ “The Loop.”
The Loop is a new course which was designed by golf architecture genius Tom Doak. It is one of three courses at Forest Dunes, in northern Michigan. The Loops is an 18 hole, par-70 course which plays one direction one day, and the opposite direction the next.
This reversible course quite a feat of engineering and creativity on the part of Doak, and I anticipate more and more golf courses will be doing this in the future. Two courses, same acreage.
I’m still mentally processing my rounds on the Loop for a future full blown review after I return from this current World Tour event in Michigan. Stay tuned. If you have questions about The Loop and/or Forest Dunes, let me know.
Forest Dunes is a golf resort in northern Michigan you should definitely put on your golf bucket list. There are four courses on the property, if you count The Loop, which is a reversible course by Tom Doak. Yesterday morning I had the thill of taking on the Forest Dunes Weiskopf course and oh what a beauty she is. I would have made a blog post about this Tour stop sooner, but the resort is quite remote and there’s not much connectivity there. Plus, I spent most of my time there golfing, eating, and sleeping in between.
I can’t quite recall if I’ve played a Weiskopf course before this one, but I must take my HOG hat off and salute Tom for such a fantastic design. Tired and a bit jet lagged I still managed it around in 80 without losing a ball, and there are massive forest areas everywhere one can do that.
The greens were spectacular and terrifyingly fast. It took quite a bit of skill, patience and green reading to navigate them.
I’ll be posting a full review of the Forest Dunes Weiskopf course here in the near future. I’m still in northern Michigan on a golf press trip which will last another five days or so which isn’t giving me much time to write or process images. Stay tuned. Until then enjoy some Forest Dunes photos.
Above: dew sweeping.
Below: panorama showing the 19th hole. Yes there is a 19th hole.
Serenity… click to read full review of Shepherd’s Hollow
Factors which go into my decision include course architecture, playing conditions, amenities, vibe, location, staff. In short, the overall experience from when one arrives to the time he/she finishes up the last frosty beverage at the 19th hole.
Shepherd’s Hollow Golf Club
The two finalists came down to New Mexico’s Paako Ridge and Michigan’s Shepherd’s Hollow Golf Club. Both are amazing tracts of land, and both courses have NO homes on the course; not the center of real estate developments. That scores big points with me. Both courses had fantastic conditions when I played. Based on the serenity, the amazing amenities, clubhouse, and the fact that they offer 27 holes, Shepherd’s edges out Paako Ridge for the Hooked On Golf Blog 2015 Best Golf Course Award.
Shepherd’s Hollow is northwest of Detroit about a 45 minute drive, and well worth it. Tip o’ the hat to Shepherd’s Hollow Golf Club for winning this distinguished award. Can’t wait to get back there.
This past summer the Hooked On Golf Blog World Tour was in fabulous Michigan for some amazing golf. Michigan has become a golf home away from home. The courses there are fantastic. I’d much rather play there than Florida or Arizona, though there are some great choices there as well. I lean toward more elevation change, more interesting terrain, and love the trees.
For this past summer’s Michigan golf trip, the temporary world headquarters for the HWT was the MGM Grand in Detroit. I know what you’re thinking. “Detroit?!?”
I’ve not spent any time in Detroit until this year. It is certainly an area which has seen better days, but there are still great reasons to visit, top notch lodging, and dining to be had, like at the MGM Detroit.
MGM Grand Detroit Overview
MGM Grand Detroit is an Art Deco style design featuring 401 rooms/suites. This luxury resort opened in 2007 and is one of a small number of casinos in the Detroit metro area.
The gaming space is very large, clocking in at 100,000 square feet. All of the possible gambling games one might want to participate in are there, including 4,000 machines and almost 100 table games. Having been a very heavy gambler back in the day, it was quite something for me to spend 4-5 days there and not even wager a nickel.
The hotel/casino is located in the heart of Detroit, walking distance from many downtown attractions and restaurants. Tiger Stadium, the home of the Major League Baseball’s Detroit Tigers, is a short walk from the hotel. I was able to catch a Detroit Tigers game. Kansas City came to town and thumped the Tigers. Despite the loss, Tigers Stadium was really a great baseball stadium and the atmosphere was fantastic.
The rooms/suites at the resort are very spacious and well appointed. The service level of the rooms is great, with turndown service and a nice robe with slippers prepared every evening.
MGM Grand Detroit Rooms
The shower and bathroom is very large and nicely constructed with slate tile floors and a cool flare to the design. There’s even a screen built into the mirror in the bathroom (see image below).
There are many restaurants and bars in the resort, including Wolfgang Puck Cucina and Wolfgang Puck Steak. I had the pleasure of enjoying both and they’re as good as you’ve heard.
Also located inside the resort is a great sports bar called TAP, which is packed on a nightly basis. TAP serves great food, stiff drinks, and provides viewing of dozens of sporting events via countless screens.
TAP Sports Bar MGM Grand Detroit
The resort is home to large 30,000 square foot meeting/event space as well as multiple lounges and entertainment venues.
Finally for those like me who like to relax, there’s an on-site spa, pool, fitness area, steam rooms, and private jacuzzis.
MGM Grand Detroit is an upscale, high quality, clean, classy, safe hotel in the heart of Detroit. Whether in the area for business or some of the great golf in Michigan, MGM Grand Detroit is a great choice for accommodations.
I was just entering the 2014 college football schedule into my calendar for my Utah Utes. Tough go for us being fairly new in the Pac-12, but I digress. The 3rd game on the schedule this season is at the “Big House,” also known as the University of Michigan’s football stadium. The place holds something like 12.2 million fans. A few weeks ago I was across the street from the big house playing golf at the University of Michigan Golf Course. What a fantastic place. The course is not quite publicly accessible, but there are several ways one can get a round in on this wonderful layout. If you get the chance, do it.
The course is the home of the Michigan golf teams and is closed for play during competitions. The course is also closed on football days, where it doubles as a parking lot.
Ever heard of Alister MacKenzie? He designed the University of Michigan Golf Course, which opened in 1931. He’s the same golf course architect who designed Augusta National Golf Club (home of the Masters Tournament) with the help of Bobby Jones. One other highly ranked architectural masterpiece he created was Cypress Point.
Having visited Augusta National many times, I could definitely get the feel of MacKenzie’s style and creativity at the University of Michigan course. The way he utilized the rolling hills, angles, and elevation changes on the property is magnificent.
Arthur Hills performed a restoration on the course in 1994, which according to the University of Michigan, “restored the grandeur of the University Golf Course to the ranks of MacKenzie’s other classics.”
Total yardage for the golf course from the tips, also known as the Wolverine Tee, is 6687 yards. The course rating is 72.0 and slopes at 135. These numbers translate to a strong challenge, but not over the top in terms of difficulty. There are three other tee sets for players of varying age, gender, and ability level.
I’m not sure which club I prefer the most on the tees at the University of Michigan Golf Course, my driver or my Nikon. The framing of the holes from the tees is fabulous.
Tee – click to zoom
Tee shots are not extremely difficult, but with the movement of the course, trees lining the fairways, and some deep native grass areas, errant tee shots are one-way tickets to bogey land.
Like Augusta National, the fairways at U of M roll with the hilly terrain. Challenging lies await, producing approaches which are a fine test of shotmaking. The fairways are not overly narrow, but due to the movement of the holes, proper placement is a big advantage on approach shots.
Fairway – click to zoom
There are many “course management” scenarios. On some par-4 holes and even one particular par-5 (3rd hole) driver may not be the perfect club to hit off the tee, but is still an option.
The greens are very fun and unique at the U of M course. First, they are not terribly large so hitting them in regulation is a solid accomplishment.
Green – click to zoom
There are very large undulations and tiers in the greens which can break those medium to small sized greens into even smaller areas. If an approach finds the wrong one, two-putting is a challenge but not impossible.
The shaping and framing of the greens on this course is very pleasing to the eye.
Full supporting facilities in the form of practice areas, pro shop, and dining are offered at U of M.
Playing the U of M golf course was a fantastic experience. I loved the layout, the flow, routing, scenery, and especially the conditioning. I strongly recommend playing the course if you get the chance. I cannot wait to get back and take another shot at it.