Five Michigan public courses make Golf Digest’s top 100

The Detroit News
The No. 17 hole at Arcadia Bluffs.

Five Michigan courses have made Golf Digest’s annual list of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses.

Arcadia Bluffs in Arcadia leads the pack at No. 13, followed by Forest Dunes in Roscommon at No. 25 and Tullymore in Stanwood at No. 53. The Links and Quarry nines combine to put Bay Harbor at No. 72 and The Bear at Grand Traverse Resort in Acme is No. 78.

Arcadia Bluffs is a 7,300-yard Rick Smith / Warren Henderson design overlooking Lake Michigan, about 50 miles southwest of Traverse City.

“Can a 100 Greatest course be a sleeper?” writes Golf Digest’s Ron Whitten. “Arcadia Bluffs has been overshadowed by No. 18 Pacific Dunes, ever since it finished second to it in the Best New Upscale Public Course race of 2001. And likewise second-fiddle to No. 12 (on America's 100 Greatest Courses) Crystal Downs, a neighbor every northern Michigan that visitor wants to play, even though it's private and Arcadia is public. And even by Whistling Straits, the imitation links on the opposite side of Lake Michigan that Arcadia Bluffs resembles, although the sand dunes at Arcadia are natural, not manmade. Arcadia Bluffs will gain more exposure if a proposed second 18 designed by Dana Fry is built in the next few years.”

Selected commentary by Whitten on the other top-ranked Michigan courses:

Forest Dunes: “Forest Dunes is another course, like Spyglass Hill, that has portions that look like Augusta National (pristine turf, pines and gleaming white sand bunkers) and other portions that look like Pine Valley (rugged holes edged by native sand dunes deposited by the nearby Au Sable River).”

Tullymore: “Architect Jim Engh doesn't do conventional. He does controversial. His Tullymore design in central Michigan has probably the longest, skinniest set of putting surfaces of any course on America's 100 Greatest Public, along with the longest, skinniest set of bunkers.”

Bay Harbor: “One of three grand ‘new Pebble Beaches’ that debuted in the late 1990s, Bay Harbor was ranked third in Golf Digest's survey of Best New Upscale Public Courses of 1999, behind the twin juggernauts (and fellow Pebble Beach clones) Bandon Dunes and Whistling Straits.”

The Bear: “Built at the height of the mania of difficult golf, The Bear had at one time the highest course and slope ratings in the country. But that phase has passed. They no longer even post them on the scorecard.”


Here are the top 10 on Golf Digest’s annual ranking of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses:

1. Pebble Beach (Pebble Beach, Calif.)

2. Pacific Dunes (Bandon, Ore.)

3. Ocean Course (Kiawah Island, S.C.)

4. Whistling Straits, Straits Course (Haven, Wis.)

5. Shadow Creek (North Las Vegas, Nev.)

6. Pinehurst No. 2 (Pinehurst, N.C.)

7. Bandon Dunes (Bandon, Ore.)

8. Bethpage Black (Farmingdale, N.Y.)

9. Erin Hills (Erin, Wis.)

10. Old Macdonald (Bandon, Ore.)