Courses We Love: Forest Dunes
Courses We Love: Forest Dunes
It's been a while since we posted one of these, given the world has changed so dramatically with COVID. We finally got out of the house in late July to make a trip to Northern Michigan. A hidden gem is generally a course few people know about. However, is a course that has been around for a while, but often takes second fiddle to its new sister course still a hidden gem? We can't remember seeing many pictures of Forest Dunes except for the clubhouse prior to the Loop being built, but what a treat of a course. Is it a hidden gem...well, that's to be debated, but it is one hell of a golf course. We can say it is a walking gem where a trolley serves you well, even though 90% of people take carts. Idiots, but we digress.
Forest Dunes is much more of a traditional parkland course vs its sister course, the Loop. It's lush and green, which appeals to the eye. While we do enjoy brown and firm and fast as much as anyone, Forest Dunes was a ton of fun even being lush and green. When we played, the resort had received a fair bit of rain, but the greens were still pretty quick.
Although we could have included about 14-15 holes that we really enjoyed, let's talk about a few of our favorite holes because that's why you are reading this.
3rd Hole - par 3 178 yards (II or Blue Tees)
The third is the first par 3 on the course after two fun opening par 4s. The first being a shorter ease you into the round and the 2nd the #1 handicap. The gorgeous bunkering at Forest Dunes is what first draws your eyes with the white sand contrasting against the deep green grass and dark green trees. The green on the third is what makes it special. It is incredibly wide, but slopes back to front with a spine that runs down the middle. The front left pin is tough as any miss right on the other side of the spine leaves a tough two putt.
5th Hole - par 5 572 yards
The third hole is a long dogleg left par 5 that is a three shot hole for everyone but the longest hitters. There is a deep bunker that guards the inside left of the dogleg that is to be avoided. However, there is ample room right. The 2nd shot is one of position to leave a wedge to the green. The green is one of the best on the course. It slopes dramatically from back to front and features a huge swale about five feet deep on the front right. A back right hole location leaves a tough wedge shot.
Hole 6 - par 4 344 yards
A short to medium par 4 with a large tree and a serious of bunkers guarding the landing area. You have a decision here. You can go up the left where the fairway is wide, but runs out about 210-220 and lay up or go right and try to carry the bunkers to a more narrow landing area. Knowing the hole location is key to this decision as there is a big hill left of the green with a large bunker and the green runs hard away from this point. Any flag on the left side of the green would be difficult to hit it close from this side. However, taking on the risk with your drive to the right opens up many of the hole locations on the green and leads to an easier 100-120 yard wedge.
Hole 8 - par 4 414 yards
The eight is a tough par 4 with a big deep bunker on the inside of the dogleg right. Big hitters can carry the bunker, but it takes a carry of 275+, leaving a flip wedge. Bailing out right leaves a downhill approach of 160-200 yards to a green flanked by the lake short and right of the green. The bailout is to the left side and a thankful two putt par.
Hole 12 - par 4 371 yards
While not the most strategic hole, there is something about the tall, narrow confines and the green set along the pond that makes this hole charming. A straight or slight draw that avoids the bunkers on the inside of the dogleg leaves a short iron into this back to front sloping green. A definite birdie opportunity with two good shots.
Hole 15 - par 5 531 yards
A fun par 5 where you can wail away on the tee shot. The fun of this hole is the green. The hole doglegs a bit left on the second shot and the punchbowl green is set down below the level of the fairway with two bunkers guarding the right side. However, the ideal shot is a bit of a fade over the front edge and feeding back towards a right or even a left hole location.
Hole 17 - par 4 278 yards
Like every Tom Weiskopf design, it seems there is always a fun drivable par 4 and the 17th is the one at Forest Dunes. 278 yards direct to the flag with an open run up area and bunkers right and left framing the entrance. With a driver, the short right bunker about 235 of the the is to be avoided at all costs as it is deep and leaves a blind 60 yard approach to a green that slopes right to left. Short is the best layup, but the fairway is wide to the right and short of the deep bunker and where most people end up leaving anywhere from 80-125 yards to a green running away from you where par can then be tough. A great, fun short par 4 that can bring eagle or other in to play.
While not in the easiest location to get to, the resort at Forest Dunes is a must stop in our opinion on any Northern Michigan golf trip. With the reversible 18 of the Loop and the new Riley Johns and Keith Rhebb short course open, there is plenty of golf to keep you having a blast for 2-3 days.