I recently had the chance the chance to play another round at Forest Dunes and came away strengthened in my belief that it is in the conversation for the title of Best Public Golf Course In Michigan. Nothing has changed from my previous impressions in my previous review: Forest Dunes Golf Course Review
At Forest Dunes, architect Tom Weiskopf created a course with an abundance of interesting and fun decisions. The holes are all visually interesting. While Forest Dunes does not have the spectacular vistas and great heights of some other Michigan courses, it makes up for it with an artful blending of the woods (Forest) and sandy expanses (Dunes) that characterize that portion of north central Michigan. Forest Dunes is pretty.
Conditions in 2017 were superb. Tee boxes and fairways were in top notch shape. The greens were as smooth and fast as anything I have encountered, including those when I played Erin Hills the day after the US Open, and Oakland Hills just before the US Amateur.
Forest Dunes gets additional points for being eminently walkable. I recommend that you walk.
I also recommend that you bring bug spray. Though no fault of the course, if the wind is down in that part of Michigan, the gnats and flies come out.
A few years ago, Forest Dunes was a place where a player would stop, play, and then head on to other Northern Michigan resort locations. With the addition of the Tom Doak designed “Loop” course, Forest Dunes now is a stay-and-play destination. You can read my review of The Loop at the link: The Loop Golf Course Review. While at Forest Dunes I also had the chance to play The Loop with another year of grow-in under its belt, and I will have an update soon.
Forest Dunes has a fine clubhouse, good food and nice overnight accommodations. It all needs better wifi, though.
In addition to Forest Dunes, the other courses I think are in the conversation for “Best Public Golf Course In Michigan” are Tullymore, in Canadian Lakes; Black Lake, in Onaway; and Arcadia Bluffs, in Arcadia. While there are others with a strong argument, such as Greywalls, Treetop’s Fazio and Boyne’s Bay Harbor, I am currently reserving the top spots for courses that are walkable. I strongly believe that walking is an integral part of the game and that the best courses offer it as an option.
I admit to a bit of a bias in this list. I have played Forest Dunes, Tullymore and Black Lake multiple times. And while I only have had one chance to visit Arcadia Bluffs, it left a strong impression. Perhaps more familiarity with other courses would elevate my opinion of them. Certainly that is true of my home course, which is not on anyone’s list but which, with repeated playing has revealed many strengths.
More photos of Forest Dunes are below: