Playing Boyne Highlands Ross Memorial, Springbrook and Sault Ste. Marie Golf Club
My Up North golf binge continues. Over the last four days, I’ve played Indian River, Golf Club, Boyne Highlands’ Ross Memorial, Springbrook and driven to Canada to play the Sault Ste. Marie Golf Club.
Indian River is one of my favorite courses in all of Michigan. It was my introduction to “Up North” golf, with cathedral-like trees lining the fairways, and each hole giving you the feeling that you are the only group on the course. My favorite time to play is twilight, when the touristy crowds have thinned and all is cool and still.
On Tuesday, I scheduled a crack-of-dawn round at Springbrook, a course near Boyne City. Although not a muni, Springbrook has that vibe. In the midst of a lot of big name resort courses, Springbrook seems like the place where local play. It’s on the short side, and conditions were adequate. The fairways were covered in as much clover as they were in grass.
Eleven was the best hole: A twisting uphill par five with hills on either side that made it feel like shooting up a canyon.
Wednesday found the GolfBlogger at Boyne Highlands’ Donald Ross Memorial. Each hole on the course is a replica of a Donald Ross hole a top private club, including ones from Seminole and Oakland Hills.
The Donald Ross is much more than a replica course though. If it was named “The Newcomb,” (after Bill Newcomb, who put the collection together) most golfers would come away simply thinking “that was a really fun course.”
What makes Boyne’s Ross course work so well is that each hole was selected to fit the terrain. Newcomb, Bernie Friedrich and others working on the project would look at the landscape and say: “we need a hole that is is 345 to 390 yards long, with a rise in the middle and an approach shot that is a x degree grade.” Then they would go to their catalog of hundreds of Ross holes to find one that fit.
In this way, every hole on the course feels unforced — as though it belongs and was designed specifically for that spot.
In recent months, Boyne has upgraded the GPS screens on its carts, which provide features such as hole flyovers and bluetooth music connections in addition to the usual GPS distances. Golfers can also tap on the screen to get the distance to specific spots.
It’s really neat.
Read The GolfBlogger’s Boyne Highlands Ross Memorial Review at the link.
Finally, on Thursday (today), I drove up to Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario to check off two items on my golf to-do list: playing in Canada and playing a Stanley Thompson course.
As amazing as it may sound, even after thirty plus years in Michigan, I have never crossed over to play a round in Canada.
Sault Ste. Marie Golf Club is a Stanley Thompson design that dates to 1919. It is a spacious and interesting design, although it needs some TLC. The members I played with mentioned without prompting that the previous superintendent had let things go and that the new one was working hard to bring it back.
I hope so. I really liked the layout and design. Of note, the greens complexes are terrific, with often ridiculously large greens surrounded by bunkers, mounding and swales. Many of the greens looked as though they were staged in small amphitheatres.
I don’t know whether such greens complexes are characteristic of Thompson designs, but I would be happy to learn that they are.
Thompson is essentially the Donald Ross of Canadian golf. Over his career, he designed 178 courses, 144 of which are in Canada. Perhaps his most famous design is Banf Springs. Many of his most significant designs were done for the Canadian National Park system.
This would be a really cool trip to take: ride the Canadian rails to the National Parks to play Thompson courses.
I’ll have full reviews of Springbrook and Sault Ste. Marie Golf Club in due course.