The 25 best golf courses in Michigan (2022/2023)

Crystal Downs Country Club in Frankfort, Mich.

Crystal Dows in Frankfurt, Mich.

Patrick Koenig

As part of GOLF’s course rating process for 2022-23, our fleet of 100-plus expert panelists identified the best golf courses in Michigan. Browse the links below to check out all of our course rankings, or scroll down to see the best courses in Michigan.

GOLF’s other course rankings: Top 100 Courses in the World | Top 100 Courses in the U.S. | Top 100 Courses You Can Play | Top 100 Value Courses in the U.S. | America’s Best Municipal Courses | The 100 Best Short Courses in the World

The 25 best golf courses in Michigan (2022/2023)

1 = Top 100 Course in the U.S.
P = Public/Resort Course
V = Top 100 Value Course in the U.S.
M = Top 30 Municipal Course in the U.S.

Ed. note: Some courses were omitted from our rankings because they did not receive enough votes.

1. Oakland Hills – South (Bloomfield Hills) [1]

Through the years, Oakland Hills — the famed “monster” that Ben Hogan slayed in the 1951 U.S. Open — became long, narrow and hard, which fit the descriptive of other American championship courses. That was never meant to be the course’s fate — this was Donald Ross’s parkland thought-provoking magnum opus. Happily, all of Ross’s glories, and then some, were brought back in 2020 when Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner and team restored Ross’s width and playing angles. The greens were expanded a whopping 35 percent, and the bunkers themselves were restored to their previous immense scale. Fescue grasses blow in the wind and the undulating site, no longer hidden by trees, optimizes parkland golf’s regal offering with some of its greens like the 1st and 14th capable of stealing your breath.

oakland hills south
Oakland Hills — South Larry Lambrecht

2. Crystal Downs (Frankfort) [1]

Because of its remote location, Crystal Downs was once overlooked but that changed when Tom Doak introduced the course to Ben Crenshaw in the 1980s. A combination of strong breezes off Lake Michigan, thick fescue roughs, undulating terrain and fiendishly contoured greens make this one of the more difficult Top 100 courses relative to its par of 70. Measuring just under 6,600 yards, monster length is not required when you have greens this good.

3. Kingsley Club (Kingsley) [1]

Mike DeVries moved only 30,000 yards of dirt to build this minimalist Michigan masterpiece. From the opening drive at the split-fairway 1st, Kingsley offers golfers an inspiring number of choices, forcing them to think their way around the course. With spectacular par-5s, drivable par-4s and a dazzling variety of greens, Kingsley is a serious player’s paradise. If all those challenges fry your brain, don’t worry — there’s a bottle of Jameson hidden near the 18th tee.

4. Forest Dunes-Loop – Red/Black (Roscommon) [P]

The Loop at Forest Dunes.
Forest Dunes-Loop courtesy of Forest Dunes

5. Franklin Hills (Franklin)

6. Bloomfield Hills (Bloomfield Hills)

7. Meadowbrook (Northville)

8. Orchard Lake (Orchard Lake)

Orchard Lake is possibly the most intact Charles H. Alison in the U.S. as the routing today is almost identical to its original design. This 1926 Alison design began its Keith Foster restoration in 2012. Bold bunkering returned to the surprisingly undulating topography, trees were removed from playing corridors and greens were expanded to original intent. The greens are subtle and at times deceptive, and it has especially strong par-3s. Good variation of design and length in the par-4s and par-5s. Holes 15-17 might be the best stretch in the Detroit area. 

9. Belvedere (Charlevoix) [P, V]

Thanks to how Golden Age architect William Watson incorporated meandering creeks, dramatic valley walls and gorgeous Michigan rolling landforms into his routing here, the golfer wants for nothing. Watson’s greens — both their contours and their placement — are marvels, many of which don’t require bunkers for window dressing. For instance, the surface at the 6th features a savage false front that consumes nearly one-third of the putting surface. Other bunkerless greens include the 16th and 17th, both of which Watson benched into hillsides. A faint-hearted approach to the 346-yard 16th finds the golfer a dozen-plus feet below the putting surface; same goes for a pull at the 179-yard 17th. Belvedere has attracted a legion of design fans over the years, and for good reason.

The 9th hole at Belvedere.
Belvedere Brian Walters Photography

10. Arcadia Bluffs – South (Arcadia) [3, P]

11. CC of Detroit

12. Forest Dunes – Weiskopf (Roscommon) [P]

13. Dunes (9-holer) (New Buffalo)

14. Arcadia Bluffs – Bluffs (Arcadia) [P]

The views at Arcadia Bluffs don't disappoint.
Arcadia Bluffs — Bluffs courtesy of Arcadia Bluffs

15. Indianwood – Old (Lake Orion)

16. Marquette – Greywalls (Marquette) [P]

17. Detroit GC – North (Detroit)

18. Lost Dunes (Bridgman)

19. Point O’Woods (Benton Harbor)

20. Barton Hills (Ann Arbor)

21. Oakland Hills — North (Bloomfield Hills)

22. Detroit GC — South (Detroit)

23. Stoatin Brae (Augusta) [P, V]

Heathland is a broad, open expanse of heath. Replace heath with native grasses and you have Stoatin Brae in south-central Michigan. The uphill drive off the highway to the clubhouse gives nothing away about what you’re about to experience. Much of the front nine traverses a plain, and then, starting at 10, the land goes crazy — a topsy-turvy six-hole stretch that you won’t soon forget. It is one of the best stretches on this entire list, even though a lot of people don’t know about it. Other standout holes include the short par-4 8th and the one-shot 17th to a knob green. The green fee of well under $100 belies what is a first-rate design and playing experience.

Stoatin Brae in Michigan.
Stoatin Brae Larry Lambrecht

24. Bay Harbor [P]

25. Wuskowhan Players Club

How we rank our courses

For GOLF’s course rankings lists, each panelist is provided a list of hundreds of courses and “buckets,” or groupings. If they believe the course to be among the best in its category (World, U.S. Value, etc.), they check the corresponding box to place it in a specific bucket. Panelists are also free to write in courses they felt should have been included on the ballot. Points were assigned to each bucket; to arrive at an average score for each course, we divide its aggregate score by the number of votes. From those point tallies, the courses are then ranked accordingly.

The key to the process is the experience and expertise of our panel. Hailing from 15 nations and all the worldwide golf meccas, each of our 115 handpicked panelists has a keen eye for architecture, both regionally and globally. Many of our panelists have played more than 1,000 courses in 20-plus countries.

Because we don’t prescribe a set method to assess courses as other ranks do, no one opinion carries the day — our rank is a democracy. Some panelists believe that enjoyment is the ultimate goal, and thus prioritize design attributes such as width and playing angles, while frowning on upon having to constantly hunt for balls in thick rough. Other panelists value challenge and the demands of hitting every club in the bag. Still others consider a course’s surroundings and overall environment of paramount importance, thereby emphasizing the setting and naturalness of the course. In the end, allowing raters to freely express their tastes is what produces the desired eclecticism in our Top 100 lists.

Panelist integrity is vital. Voters with any ties or associations to eligible courses must flag such conflicts. Panelists also know not to let the quality of their play influence their ballot — same for a luxe experience or clubhouse. While opulence may make for a more a memorable outing, it’s not what GOLF’s course lists are about. Our focus is on design and architecture. We study the course, not the trappings around it.

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