Marquette Golf Club
Teacher’s Comments: Beautiful and Challenging. Worth the trip.
Greywalls is a course that deserves to be in any conversation about the best course in Michigan. Cut through striking terrain on the hills overlooking Lake Superior, Greywalls is a unique golf experience.
The course gets its name from the grey rock formations that dominate the region. From the first tee, the name is obvious. A good shot launches over a ravine to a grassy knoll, which then plunges downhill past several grey rocky outcroppings to the green.
The most striking holes are four, five and six, where the grey walls of rock frame the holes and provide both targets and hazards.
From the first tee to the eighteenth green, I got the sense that architect Mike DeVries found, rather than built the holes. They feel as though they are naturally routed around the rocks, and up and down the hills.
An intriguing aspect of the course is the influence of Lake Superior. The greatest of the Great Lakes covers some 31,700 square miles of water. Lake Superior is so big that all of the other Great Lakes — plus three more the size of Lake Erie — could fit inside it. It is, quite frankly, an inland sea. As such, it has shifting winds and changing weather of the sort that I imagine you would find in Scotland. On the day I played — the 8th of July — temperatures never got out of the 50s, and the winds blew constantly. As the holes played back and forth, the wind variously in your face, behind you, or blowing side to side.
So in this, Greywalls is a curious mix of a classic Up North Michigan course, cut through forest and marsh and negotiating hilly terrain; and a links course, with all its water-influenced weather. It is unique, I think.
In the photo at the top of the page, you can see one of the many stunning vistas of Lake Superior.
I was glad that I thought to pack my autumn pants and jackets in the car. I learned long ago that weather in Michigan is never a sure thing.
My favorite hole was the par 4 fourth. I liked it so much that when my round was over, I cheated and drove back to play it again (the course was largely empty by that time). The hole is, from the back tees, a 425 yard par 4.
With an impressive rock wall to the left, a good tee shot will stay left and clear a rise in the fairway created by a rocky outcropping to roll down and settle in a depression. Missing left is not an option. A shot that drifts right, however will land in a valley with plenty of room for slicers. The straight line over the outcrop leaves just a wedge to the green.
The par three sixth also is worthy of mention. At 188 yards from the back tee, it requires a shot across a ravine to a green that is backed by a large rock wall. You don’t want to miss long. The shot is so far uphill, however that the extra clubs are going to create a flatter trajectory that will either get caught short or bounce to the back of the green. The best play is a high flying hybrid. I managed par here with my Cobra 3-hybrid (twice. Hey, since I was already out there, what was the harm of another extra hole).
The front nine at Greywalls is visually more impressive than the back. The rocks are more severe and the elevation changes perhaps more significant. That is not to say that the back nine is somehow disappointing. It just doesn’t take your breath away with such regularity.
From the back tees, Greywalls stretches to 6,828 yards and plays to a 73.0/144. The middle tees measure a far more reasonable 5,908 and play 682/130. The course actually sports six sets of tees. I suggest that first time players move up a tee. Several of the uphill shots require a club or two more than to which you are perhaps accustomed.
Greywalls is a course that rewards replay. I can’t count the number of times I hit a shot, then drove to the spot to discover an outcrop or other previously unforeseen terrain. A replay would also help on the greens, which I found were often deceptive. Make sure you take a quick circle around the hole before choosing a line.
Conditions on the day I played were outstanding. Tee boxes were tidy, the fairways lush, and the greens like carpets.
My one complaint is that the pace of play was appalling. The round took five and a half hours, and there were no rangers moving people along. It would have thoroughly ruined the round if the scenery had not been worth savoring.
Greywalls is on the far reaches of civilization, but well worth the journey. I would love to have the chance to play again.
A photo tour follows;
The Greywalls Golf Course Review was originally published July 14, 2015.