The Dream Golf Course Review
West Branch, Michigan
Teacher’s Comments: A nice “Up North” style course at the gateway to Northern Michigan.
The Dream checks off all the boxes for Northern Michigan golf: Wooded holes, wide fairways, elevation changes and good conditions born of the region’s moderate summer climate. Located off I-75 in West Branch, it is at what I would consider the gateway to Northern Michigan. If you have not already done so, on your next trip “Up North,” make a point of stopping off for a few hours play.
The Dream golf course was designed by Jeff Gorney, who also designed The Nightmare, sister course of The Dream. Another of Gorney’s designs — and a SE Michigan favorite of mine — is Hills’ Heart of the Lakes. The Dream is a family affair, owned an operated by the Courtemanches.
From the tips, The Dream stretches to 7,000 yards and plays to a 73.7/135. That’s a difficult layout. The Whites are in at 6,392 and a 70/6/124. Gold tees measure 5,769 and play at 67.4/119. The forward tees find their rage at 5, 118 yards and a 68.6/117.
The Dream offers golfers a nice variety of holes. Lines from tee to green on the golf course are rarely straight, asking players to consider ball placement on every tee. Still, only four of the holes are what I would consider real doglegs. The remainder have twists that won’t take you out of play, but will increase the difficulty of the following shot.
Further complicating matters are the fairway bunkers on eleven of the holes. I like golf course designs with fairway bunkers because they add an additional strategic consideration to the holes.
My favorite hole was the first, a downhill thrill ride with a turn to the right at the end (photo at top of page). It’s bombs away here. Try to keep the ball to the left, but don’t get caught in the bunker. Another bunker threatens on the left side of the fairway around a hundred yards out. A good drive give a player a chance at reaching in two, but the green has a bunker on the front left, and mounding on the edges. These could end up negating the advantage of an heroic, but wayward shot. A more prudent player might decide to lay up the right of the 100 yard bunker.
Visible to drivers on I-75 south, is the par three fifth, which plays across a pond to an elevated green. The 189 yard par three is quite the challenge. Short, and you risk rolling back into the pond. Long, and you may have to chip back to the green on a downhill lie. Right, your ball ends up on a little rock-strewn creek. Left, it’s cartpath and a probable bounce into the woods.
The eighteenth (top of page) at The Dream Golf Course also deserves mention. It is as good — and tough — a finishing hole as I have seen. The number two handicap hole on the course, it measures 427 yards from the back tees, plays downhill to a bunker strewn fairway, then back up again to an elevated green. The green is large — some 10,000 square feet — but with all the bunkers looks like an imposing target.
Conditions on the day I played were good. Some of the tee boxes were beat up, and fairways were short of lush, but in all very good.
Pricing on the course is pretty expensive by Michigan standards: $130 during peak summer hours. Twilight rates and replay rates, however, top out at $60. My suggestion is to get a tee time after 3 pm. There will be plenty of light in high summer.
The Dream Golf Course Review was first published February 21, 2018, from notes taken on a round played in August 2016. Yes, I know that’s quite the delay. Quite frankly, I misplaced the notes and then forgot about it. I should clean out my desk more often. Luckily, I take good notes.
More photos of The Dream follow: