Best Public Golf Courses in Michigan
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Best Public Golf Courses in Michigan

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Best Public Golf Courses in Michigan

Could Michigan be the most-overlooked golf state?

Home to the third-most golf courses in the U.S. with 859, trailing only Florida (1,262) and California (961), “America’s Summer Golf Capital” doesn’t just offer a ton of options but has various course layouts, styles and topography whether you’re playing on the Upper Peninsula or elsewhere.

While some of its private courses have hosted multiple majors, the Great Lake State boasts a ton of quality public courses from Arcadia Bluffs to Eagle Eye and everywhere in between. Michigan offers premium golf experiences for golfers and is the perfect opportunity to experience classic courses with amazing facilities and wild challenges along the way. 

So, without further ado (and in no particular order), here are some of the best public golf courses in Michigan.

Arcadia Bluffs (Bluffs Course) – Arcadia, MI

  • Course Architect: Warren Henderson, Rick Smith
  • Slope Rating: Champion – 75.7/146, Blue – 72.7/140, White – 70.5/134, Gold – 67.8/126, Red – 64.7/120
  • Yardage: Champion – 7,300, Blue – 6,913, White – 6,389, Gold – 5,661, Red – 5,024
  • Green Fees: Dynamic pricing. See website for details.

Undoubtedly the top public course in the state, the Bluffs Course at Arcadia Bluffs is situated on—you guessed it—bluffs high above Lake Michigan. Ranked 14th on America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses by Golf Digest, this links-style track features native grasses, sod-walled bunkers, wide fairways and spacious greens. Open to the public seven days a week April through November each year, the Bluffs Course is a can’t-miss when you’re in Michigan.

Forest Dunes – Roscommon, MI

  • Course Architect: Tom Weiskopf
  • Slope Rating: I – 75.2/146, II – 72.4/139, II/III – 71.3/135, III – 69.2/127
  • Yardage: I – 7,116, II – 6,550, II/III – 6,330, III – 5,888
  • Green Fees: Dynamic pricing. See website for details.

While The Loop (see below) offers a unique challenge to golfers who visit Forest Dunes through its alternating Black and Red routings, Forest Dunes takes the cake as the top course on the property. Ranked 32nd on America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses rankings by Golf Digest, this Tom Weiskopf design features two distinct nines with the front more parkland-style through trees and the back boasting rugged native sand areas giving players the opportunity to play “golf as it should be.”

Arcadia Bluffs (South Course) – Arcadia, MI

  • Course Architect: Dana Fry, Jason Straka
  • Course Architect: Dana Fry, Jason Straka
  • Slope Rating: Champion – 75.6/132, Blue – 73.1/129, White – 70.6/125, Gold – 68.1/118, Red – 64.8/109
  • Yardage: Champion – 7,412, Blue – 6,932, White – 6,380, Gold – 5,814, Red – 5,261
  • Green Fees: Dynamic pricing. See website for details.

Heralded as “complexity veiled by simplicity,” the South Course at Arcadia Bluffs designed by Dana Fry and Jason Straka takes a page out of the playbook of Chicago Golf Club and designers C.B. Macdonald and Seth Raynor. Featuring crisscrossing bunkers, centerline hazards and unmistakable geometrically shaped greens, golfers are at the mercy of the ever-changing winds of nearby Lake Michigan. The South Course ranks 53rd on America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses rankings by Golf Digest.

Marquette Golf Club (Greywalls) – Marquette, MI

  • Course Architect: Mike DeVries
  • Slope Rating: Black – 73.0/144, Gray – 71.4/140, White – 69.2/132, Gold – 71.9/139
  • Yardage: Black – 6,828, Gray – 6,685, White – 6,114, Gold – 5,458
  • Green Fees: $210 (public), $150 (GAM), $150 (UPGA), $90 (Member guest)

Appropriately named after the granite rock outcroppings that highlight the course, Greywalls, one of two courses at Marquette Golf Club, opened in 2005. Experience tumbling fairways, contoured slopes, dramatic elevation changes, bunkered links land and, of course, vistas of Lake Superior playing Greywalls, 59th on America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses rankings by Golf Digest.

Belvedere Golf Club – Charlevoix, MI

  • Course Architect: William Watson
  • Slope Rating: Black 73.6/131, Blue – 72.2/129, White – 70.4/128, Brown – 69.5/126, Green – 66.5/115
  • Yardage: Black – 6,906, Blue – 6,601, White – 6,285, Brown – 6,091, Green – 5,507
  • Green Fees: Dynamic pricing. See website for details.

Cracking America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses rankings by Golf Digest for the first time in 2023 at No. 98, Belvedere Golf Club is a private course that welcomes outside play on most days outside of 12-2 p.m., which is reserved for members. Not a lengthy track by today’s standards, Belvedere challenges members and visitors with dynamic green complexes that make quality approach shots the key to success at this course that opened in 1927.

Forest Dunes (The Loop – Black) – Roscommon, MI

  • Course Architect: Tom Doak
  • Slope Rating: Back – 71.5/125, Middle – 68.8/118, Front – 63.8/105
  • Yardage: Back – 6,704, Middle – 6,078, Front – 4,982
  • Green Fees: Dynamic pricing. See website for details.

Loop! There it is! Designed by Tom Doak, this reversible course features Black and Red routings that are played clockwise and counter-clockwise, respectively. Ranked 58th in America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses by Golf Digest, the slightly shorter Black presents challenges on numerous holes including the 438-yard third with the green sitting on the edge of a ridge and the 146-yard eighth where bunkers in front gobble up any and all short tee shots.

Forest Dunes (The Loop – Red) – Roscommon, MI

  • Course Architect: Tom Doak
  • Slope Rating: Back – 72.3/126, Middle – 68.7/117, Front – 63.5/107
  • Yardage: Back – 6,805, Middle – 6,064, Front – 5,006
  • Green Fees: Dynamic pricing. See website for details.

On the flip side from the Black routing is the Red. Playing 101 yards longer from the tips than its counterpart (6,805 yards to 6,704), this routing features a number of Doak-designed challenges throughout, including but not limited to the par-3 fourth, par-3 sixth and par-5 13th. It’s ranked No. 69 in America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses by Golf Digest.

The Golf Club at Harbor Shores – Benton Harbor, MI

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  • Course Architect: Jack Nicklaus
  • Slope Rating: Black – 74.7/143, Grey – 70.8/137, Gold – 70.0/135, White – 69.1/133
  • Yardage: Black – 6,852, Grey – 6,246, Gold – 6,013, White – 5,740
  • Green Fees: Dynamic pricing. See website for details.

As the only Jack Nicklaus Signature Course on Lake Michigan, Harbor Shores offers diverse topography as holes 1-6 are inland terrain, holes 7-9 are dunes terrain with views of Lake Michigan, holes 10-13 are woodlands terrain and the final five holes are river terrain which border the Paw Paw River, Ox Creek and its wetlands. Ranked 90th in America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses by Golf Digest, this course is a five-time host of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, including this past May.

Eagle Eye Golf & Banquet Center (Eagle Eye) – Bath Twp., MI

  • Course Architect: Chris Lutzke
  • Slope Rating: Championship – 75.9/145, Black – 73.8/143, Blue – 71.4/136, White – 69.5/128, Red – 65.4/119
  • Yardage: Championship – 7,323, Black – 6,881, Blue – 6,412, White – 5,923, Red – 5,105
  • Green Fees: $100 Monday-Thursday, $130 Friday/Sunday, $150 Saturday

Designed in collaboration with Pete Dye, architect Chris Lutzke’s links-style course at Eagle Eye Golf & Banquet Center provides a challenge right out of the gate. Big hitters will be in heaven with three holes at 589+ yards from the tips: the 591-yard 4th, 598-yard ninth and 589-yard 18th. A favorite among media outlets including Golf Digest, Golf Advisor and MI Golf Journal, the track’s signature 17th hole features an island green similar to No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass, which was famously designed by the aforementioned Dye.

  • Course Architect: Arthur Hills
  • Slope Rating: Brown – 74.3/146, Purple – 72.1/143, Orange – 70.9/142, Blue – 69.8/140, Green – 66.0/124 (Links); Brown – 73.5/146, Purple 71.4/144, Orange – 71.0/143, Blue – 68.8/133, Green – 64.7/120 (Quarry)
  • Yardage: Brown – 3,449, Purple – 3,250, Orange – 3,116, Blue – 3,015, Green – 2,585 (Links); Brown – 3,396, Purple – 3,177, Orange – 3,112, Blue – 2,936, Green – 2,514 (Quarry)
  • Green Fees: $150

Overlooking Little Traverse Bay, Bay Harbor Golf Club offers three nine-hole courses: The Links, The Quarry and The Preserve that can be played as Links/Quarry, Quarry/Preserve or Preserve/Links, though the Links/Quarry combination is a favorite among golfers and media outlets. The self-proclaimed “Pebble Beach of the Midwest” features the Links 9 right on the shore with towering bluffs and windblown dunes, while the Quarry features 40-foot gorges, stone cliffs, natural ponds and even a gentle waterfall.

Tullymore Golf Resort (Tullymore) – Stanwood, MI

  • Course Architect: Jim Engh
  • Slope Rating: Silver – 76.0/150, Black – 71.2/142, Blue – 69.5/135, White – 67.0/115, Gold – 66.8/115
  • Yardage: Silver – 7,250, Black – 6,547, Blue – 6,210, White – 5,550, Gold – 4,668
  • Green Fees: Dynamic pricing. See website for details.

Featuring five par-3s and five par-5s, Tullymore golf course at Tullymore Golf Resort spans over 800 acres of woods, meadows and wetlands. Designed by Jim Engh, it was named the No. 1 new upscale public course in the U.S. by Golf Digest when it opened in 2002. Currently 73rd on America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses by Golf Digest, the course is set “amongst the pure, raw landscape of the Michigan wilds,” that keeps locals and visitors coming back for more.

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Michael LoRé

Michael LoRé

Michael LoRé

Michael LoRé is a freelance journalist (and very average golfer) based in New York City. With more than 15 years of experience in the industry, Michael has worked for daily newspapers, pro sports teams/leagues and online media startups. Bylines include: PGATOUR.com, GOLF.com, PGA Tour Essential Guide to Golf, AZ Golf Insider, Forbes SportsMoney, Robb Report, Boardroom, and Travel + Leisure.

Michael LoRé

Michael LoRé

Michael LoRé

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      Will

      1 month ago

      Diamond Springs, south of Grand Rapids, was on a previous list of best budget courses in the country here. It’s really nice, and about 1/4th the price of most of these. The front is pretty flat and forgiving, the back has a bunch of forced carries over huge ravines. Big shout-out for the brisket sandwich at the tavern, too.

      My only complaint is that they don’t actually have paved cart paths in some places, so when they flip on cart path only mode, good luck.

      Reply

      Jon

      1 month ago

      Michigan seems to get the snub, and there are a LOT of great courses that aren’t even mentioned here. The Bear and The Wolverine (Acme), Hawks Head (South Haven), The Legend (Bellaire), American Dunes (Grand Haven), Stoatin Brae (Augusta), Boyne Arthur Hills (Harbor Springs), Bucks Run (Mt Pleasant), and the list literally goes on. There are gems across the state.

      Reply

      FakeRichGuy

      1 month ago

      Black Lake in Onaway is a great course. Same with the Bear in Traverse City. All worth the trip.

      Reply

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