Kingsley Club Golf Course Review
Teachers’ Comments: Sublime golf. In the conversation for the best course I’ve ever played. Truly “in the spirit of the game”
Kingsley Club is a Mike DeVries masterpiece located thirty miles south of Traverse City. GolfWeek ranks it as the third best private course in Michigan, behind only Crystal Downs and Oakland Hills. That’s high praise indeed.
As a club, Kingsley is rather unassuming. It feels as though it is in the middle of nowhere. The entry is off a dirt road. The clubhouse is a doublewide. The food is good, but not fancy.
The golf, however, is sublime.
Kingsley Club is routed over rugged, mostly open terrain. It has an untamed look, with fairways flowing organically over the irregular terrain, naturalistic bunkers and greens tucked in hollows or perched on hillsides. Native grasses grow freely between the holes. It truly looks like a course DeVries “found” rather than built (I suspect that a lot of trees were removed but relatively little earth was moved).
The back nine is more wooded, but retains the open and undomesticated look.
While a great many Northern Michigan courses are routed over glacier-carved, irregular terrain, Kingsley Club distinguishes itself with its tight fescue turf. The fast and firm fairways exaggerate the contours and place demands on a player’s imagination.
From tee to green, Kingsley is a course for players who like to envision and create shots.
In my reviews, I usually single out a favorite hole or two. Kingsley made that task extremely difficult.
The par five first was an outstanding way to start a round. From the elevated tee, can take the high road around the middle-of-fairway bunkers or the low. The upper terrace is challenging, but offers the chance that a ball will skip down the rear slope for extra distance.
The second shot is uphill, narrowing between two ridges and ending in a green set in an amphitheater. I took way too much club, but was confident that if I caught the back, the ball would roll back onto the green. It didn’t, but it should have. It was just an unfortunate rub of the green.
The fourteenth was another par five with a high-low option. A drive to the right over a couple of fairway side bunkers will roll downhill to a prime location. To the left, there’s a large landing area that will roll out long. That side, however, has a much longer path to the green
The 455 yard par 4 twelfth was just a lot of fun. Downhill, the ball rolls out quite a way, and the large green is sans the usual bunkering.
My best shot of the day came on the approach on the par 4 fourth. I was unable to get my tee shot over the valley, and as a result watched it roll out well below the hill. My next shot was blind, so I lobbed the ball into the air with an short iron, just hoping to catch some green. That blind shot landed and rolled to within inches of the hole.
There are just so many good holes here that it’s a shame to leave any of them off the list.
Even the par threes are noteworthy, as on the ninth, with two very different tee locations.
And, of course, no review of Kingley would be complete without a mention of the stash of whisky in a stone wall behind the eighteenth tee. Unfortunately, this was the COVID year, and no one was drinking from a bottle.
Kingsley Club is a par 71. From the Gold tees, Kingsley Club stretches to 6, 757 yards and plays to a 73.2/141. The Green tees are at 6, 354 and a 70.8/133. A little more forward are the Blue tees at 6, 220 and a 70.1/132.
Conditions on the day I played were just what you would expect from a high-end club. The greens were smooth and fast. The fairways were hard and fast. It is evident that the greens crew takes pride in their work here.
Kingsley Club lives up to its motto: In The Spirit Of The Game
In closing, I’d like to thank my host at Kingsley Club, Kevin Frisch of Kevin Frisch PR.
The Kingsley Club Golf Course review was first published January 21, 2021 from notes and photos taken on a round played in August 2020. For all of GolfBlogger’s Michigan Golf Course Reviews, follow the link.
A photo tour of Kingsley Club follows: