Gull Lake View East
Teachers’ Comments: Among my favorite courses.
Just north and west of Battle Creek and near Augusta, MI, lie a sextet of courses that, collectively, are among the most fun I’ve played: Gull Lake View East and West, Stonehedge North and South, Bedford Valley and Yarrow. Gull Lake East is one of five owned by the same company (Yarrow is the odd man out).
Gull Lake View East feels big. Wandering through forest, over hill and stream, it takes full advantage of the area’s varied topography. I get the sense that these holes were “found” rather than “made.” There are lots of elevation changes and eight holes involve small, natural looking ponds. There is a nice variety to the hole designs, with only the par threes qualifying as “straight.” Five I would call doglegs; the remainder have gentle bends that give pause for thought without provoking desperation.
A digression for some thoughts on doglegs: In my mind, strong doglegs often inspire as much desperation as the forced carry and little more interest than a perfectly straight hole. In all three cases, the tee shot is often reduced to one consideration: hit it as far as you can. On forced carries, failure to launch is penalized with a lost ball. On many strong doglegs, falling short automatically adds at least one shot to your score. Straight holes ask a player to hit it as far as possible to play as short an iron as possible to the green. On the other hand, I find that gently bending holes offer a lot of options off the tee, as well as opportunities for creative recoveries.
This is not always true, of course. There are doglegs that ask for a relatively short tee shot and longer second. And there are holes with carries that have areas where the less skilled can bail out. In my experience, however, those are rarities.
The fairways of Gull Lake View East are all tree lined, but generally are wide enough to corral all but the wildest shots. That, combined with the gentle turns, makes for a friendly course. The trouble comes from elevation changes and working angles. I enjoyed the thinking the course forced.
Gull Lake View West is walkable, but be warned that it’s a tough hike. The elevation changes are likely to leave all but the most fit gasping. I admit that it was one of the tougher tracks I’ve hiked.
Built in 1973 by Darl, Charles and Jim Scott, Gull Lake View East extends to 6,069 yards from the tips, where it plays to a 68.8/124. From the middle tees, it plays to 5,549 and a 66.8/119. Bogey golfers should play from the middle tees for an enjoyable round.
Conditions on the day I played were very good. Greens and fairways were in excellent condition, as were the tee boxes. There were, however, a couple of holes that, even in a dry fall, were a bit soggy. I don’t know how that could be avoided, however, considering the low lying areas and the adjacent swamp.
Prices are reasonable: $39 weekdays, with all day play for $50. On the weekends, it’s $44 with $57 for all day play.
Gull Lake View East is on the short list of courses that I would make a special trip to return to play.