Teacher’s Comments: In the conversation as the best course in Michigan.
I first published a Tullymore review some seven years ago and thought it was one of the best courses I had played. After playing it again recently, my appreciation for Tullymore has only increased.
Tullymore is a superb test of golf, offering players a wide variety of strategic decisions. On any given hole players have a number of choices off the tee, and then even more as they approach the green. Architect Jim Engh’s design lets a player find his or her own way (assuming a correct tee selection), without being forced into a particular style of play.
I generally play a conservative game, placing a premium on finding a fairway at whatever distance. On the approach, I leave room for error on the short side, trusting in a ground game, pitching balls at the green and letting them roll toward the hole. Tullymore rewards that style of play. But if you’re of the bomb and gouge mindset, that will play well, too.
Such a design, I have found, is rare. Architects quite understandably favor a particular kind of play (if only subconsciously) and incorporate that into their layouts. Design bias is why it is possible for two golfers to play a course, and at the end of the day one likes it and the other does not. A design’s ability to appeal to all sorts of players and styles is rare, and is the difference between a good and a great course.
Tullymore is a great course.
The scenery and setting at Tullymore are beautiful, taking advantage of wood, marsh, meadow and elevation changes. The entire layout looks unforced and natural. My impression is that Engh “found” the holes, rather than “built” them. For example, on the front nine, there are three par threes in a four hole stretch. That’s unusual. Once you see the holes, however, you realize that Engh seized exactly what the land offered. The back nine, on the other hand, has three par fives. Again, the holes fit the landscape perfectly.
Tullymore’s conditioning is top notch. I played just a couple of days before the Tullymore Classic, a Symetra Tour tournament, and was hard pressed to find anything out of place.
Tullymore is a bit out-of-the-way in Canadian Lakes, Michigan. But I think it is worth a trip, especially if you stay overnight in one of the resort’s many rooms, and play the sister course, St. Ives (review here).
For my own part, I can’t wait to get back to Tullymore for another round.
A photo tour of Tullymore follows: