Travel Mailbag: What are the best public courses to play in Michigan?

The Loop is a unique Michigan layout.

Welcome to GOLF’s Travel Mailbag, a weekly, interactive series in which members of our staff field your course and travel-related queries. This week, Zephyr Melton breaks down the best public courses in Michigan.

Best public course to play in Michigan? — Steve Clark, via Facebook

Ah, the great state of Michigan. With terrain ranging from dense forests to the beaches of the Great Lakes, the Wolverine State is an excellent — and underrated — golf destination. Here are a few public courses in the state definitely worth checking out.

Arcadia Bluffs Golf Course (Arcadia)

Overlooking Lake Michigan, Arcadia Bluffs does not disappoint with its charming combination of views and seaside links feel. The course, which has been open since 1999, is meticulously maintained (bunkers are rebuilt every three to five years) and has established itself as a crown jewel within Michigan’s public golf scene — while still remaining an accessible challenge for golfers of all skills levels. Five sets of tees mean the course can play from 5,000 to 7,300 yards as it meanders along the bluffs. It’s not the cheapest course around, as green fees range from $90 and $215 (depending on the season), but the golf is well worth it no matter the price.

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

The Loop (Roscommon)

The Loop is a one of the most distinctive golf courses you’ll ever play; it’s actually two courses combined into one. On even-numbered days golfers play the course counter-clockwise, known as the Red course, while on odd-numbered days golfers play the routing clockwise, known as the black course. It’s a truly one-of-a-kind experience getting to tee it up on two different golf courses one day after another without leaving the exact same piece of property. That alone makes the Loop a must-play if you’re in Northern Michigan — not to mention the fact that both routings are stellar designs.

The Loop is a unique Michigan layout.
courtesy of Forest Dunes

Marquette Golf Club

If you venture into the Upper Peninsula, Marquette Golf Club is worth a visit. With 36 holes on property, you can get a solid variety with two contrasting layouts. The Greywalls Course is the more difficult of the two and seamlessly integrates the surrounding rugged beauty of the area. With dramatic elevation changes and stunning views of Lake Superior, Greywalls keeps you engaged for all 18 holes. The Heritage Course’s classic layout dates back to 1926 and, at just 6,200 yards from the back tees, represents a clever complement to the daunting Greywalls Course.

Marquette Golf Club is the class of the Upper Peninsula.
courtesy of Marquette Golf Club

Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

If a resort course is more your speed, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is worth a look. With three courses to choose from (Bear, Wolverine and Spruce Run) in addition to dining and spa options, Grand Traverse offers great variety. The Bear Course, whose name is derived from its founder, Jack Nicklaus, is a challenging Scottish-style layout that is not for the faint of heart. The Wolverine Course, designed by Gary Player, is not nearly as penal and can be enjoyed by golfers of all skill levels. And the third course, Spruce Run, has a charming tree-lined personality as it winds through the hills that surround the property. With 54 holes of golf and a host of other entertainment options, Grand Traverse can be a great destination for golfers and non-golfers alike.

The Bear course has some teeth.
courtesy of Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

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