Playing Forest Dunes

Playing Forest Dunes

My round at Forest Dunes this week reinforced my belief that the Weiskopf is in the conversation for best public course in Michigan.

The landscape is beautiful, with a mix of — wait for it — forest and dunes. Conditions are always very good.

I try to make a point of returning to play at least once a year. Last year was the first I missed in a long while.

My first round at Forest Dunes came not long after it opened. The rumor was that it was very good, but soon would go private, so I stopped in on my way to the family cottage “Up North.”

I almost got stuck on a road that looked like a good route on my map, but turned out to be a sandy logging trail. The clubhouse was a trailer.

The course was good enough to get me coming back year after year. Forest Dunes has changed hands several times since then, and never did go private. It also has expanded with Tom Doak’s The Loop, a short course called The Bootlegger and a large clubhouse.

Rumor has it another course will be built on the property, adding to what already is a major golf destination.

A view of Forest Dunes’ sixth: Gamble

Thursday wasn’t the prettiest. Indeed between the smoke from wildfires in Canada and the multiple lines of thunderstorms, it look a bit like the apocalypse.

An apocalypse, but an apocalypse on a great golf course. If we’re going to have an apocalypse, I want to go out on a golf course.

A closer view of the sixth: Gamble

In my mind, Tom Weiskopf’s Forest Dunes design shines because of its risk and reward holes.

The sixth, appropriately named Gamble, has a two-tiered fairway split by a tree. To the left, a ball can roll out safely on the lower tier, but will have a longer line (and less favorable angle) to the green. The upper tier on the right side has a much shorter line and better angle to the green, but to get there, players must challenge a savage line of bunkers.

I am not a gambling type. Here, I will nearly always play left. The exception is on those days when everything about my swing is clicking.

Forest Dunes’ seventeenth: Wild Dunes

The seventeenth is a short par 4 called Wild Dunes. At just 302 yards from the back tees, it is an apparent eagle hole – or at least a birdie.

It is an apparent eagle, because a direct line to the green is strewn with craggy bunkers. The green itself sits in a bowl, with a mound of bunkers to the right.

Again, there is an area to bail out on the right off the tee. From that spot, however, the approach must be lobbed over the aforementioned mound of bunkers.

Decision: Forest Dunes’ Tenth

The tenth has a split fairway. The right is narrow and very likely to end up with a ball rolling into a bunker or scrub. The left is wide enough to accomodate all but the worst tee shots. Once again, however, the safe side for a tee shot is the longer route on the approach.

And so it goes. There are lots of decisions to make at Forest Dunes, and that is what makes it such a great course.

I look forward to another visit in the future.

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