The Mackinaw Club Golf Course Review
The Mackinaw Club
Mackinaw City, Michigan
Teachers’ Comments: Has potential. Needs work.
The Mackinaw Club is a Northern Michigan golf course that doesn’t really feel like an “Up North” course. It is a marsh, field and forest course on flat terrain that frankly could be located anywhere in the state.
For all its geographic ambiguity, however, The Mackinaw Club is a fun design. With 310 acres to work with, architect Jerry Matthews took advantage of the opportunity to provide a good deal of variety.
Nine holes are routed through woods; eight are mostly open; one par three is mostly over marsh. Eight of the holes bring water of one kind or another into play. I counted three doglegs left and three right.
Overall, it’s a relatively tight course. Players who can hit a fairway — even if they are not long off the tee — will score well at Mackinaw Club.
The property the course sits on has an interesting history. An orchard in the early 1900s, it was used as an emergency landing strip for B-25s practicing their runs during WWII. It later was Mackinaw City’s airport, and then a snowmobile racing track. The course was constructed in 1997.
From the back tees, Mackinaw Club tops out at 6, 807 yards and plays to a 71.4/124. The middle tees are at 6, 313 yards and a 68.9/121. At 5, 942 yards, the forward tees play to a 67.6/117.
Mackinaw is not long, and if a bogey golfer can hit the ball straight off the tee, it can be a very good day indeed.
My favorite hole at Mackinaw Club was the 409 yard par four ninth. This open hole is a dogleg right, with a pond and a bunker on the interior angle. Most of the course is tight, so this open, bombs-away shot was welcome. The front of the green is open, so this is a good birdie hole.
Another pair of interesting holes were the par 4 first and tenth. They are nearly identical in design.
Running parallel, both are slight doglegs left. The holes begin with an open tee shot, then narrow to the green, with the approach shots carrying over a marshy creek.
The biggest difference between the two holes is that the tenth has a tree on a direct line to the fairway.
Conditions on the day I played were not good. There were damaged greens, bare fairways, and large pools of standing water in several places.
Overall, the Mackinaw Club golf course felt a bit shabby.
The price, however, was below what you would expect to pay for a Northern Michigan course. I paid $35 to walk.
The Mackinaw Club Golf Course Review was first published December 28, 2020 from notes and photos taken on a round played July 22, 2020.
A Mackinaw Golf Club course tour follows: