Cedar River Golf Course Review
Cedar River Golf Course
Shanty Creek Resort, Bellaire, Michigan
Teacher’s Comments: Lots of fun, great holes, but could use some TLC
Cedar River is Tom Weiskopf’s first Michigan design and perfectly captures the spirit of “Up North” golf. Cedar River has beautifully isolated holes, wide, tree-lined fairways, dramatic elevation changes and a natural feel. As with the best of Northern Michigan’s courses, I had the feeling (true or not) that Weiskopf “found” the holes, rather than forcing them on the landscape with a bulldozer.
From the back tees, Cedar River stretches to 6528 yards and plays to a 136/71.2. The middle tees come in at 5963 yards and play to a 126/69.3.
Cedar River has more than its share of really good holes. My favorite was the par four thirteenth. At just 297 yards, it is not long, but offers a great strategic decision at the onset: the high road, or the low. The fairway splits at around 299 yards from the tee, offering a wide lower landing zone, or a more narrow one high. Between the two is a large tree. A 230 yard drive right offers a downhill wedge or pitch to the green. A similar tee shot to the wider right offers a similar distance, but requires a flight over a large trap and a berm. Pick your poison.
Another hole I really enjoyed was the par 4 sixth. It wraps around a lake, and offers an intimidating tee shot. It is not as bad as it looks, though. Even from the back tees, a 230 yard drive puts you in the widest spot of the fairway — although a shot that runs through the fairway ends up in flanking traps. A shot at the green could also take you over water with a fade; a draw could bring a large bunker on the play. This is one where you have to think about shot shapes.
Cedar River has quite a few homes along the sides of the fairways, but in only a couple of instance did I feel as though they intruded on the course.
Conditions on the day I played were a step below what I could expect for a premium course. The greens and tee boxes were in good shape, but the fairways were a mixed bag. There were some very dry spots, some wet areas and a few patches lacking grass.
At around $100 a round, Cedar River is pricier than I would like — especially considering the less-than-premium conditions. I think management takes advantage of the built-in audience of people visiting — or living on — resort property.
Cedar River is definitely worth a play as a special event. My advice, though, is to look for a mid-week twilight rate in high summer.
The Cedar River Golf Course Review was first published January 6, 2016 from notes taken July 25, 2015.
A Cedar River Golf Course gallery follows: