Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club

Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club – Played May 2017

  • Rankings: Golf Digest #57, Golf Digest Public #13, Golf Magazine Public #28
  • Location: 14710 Northwood Highway, Arcadia, Michigan
  • Year: 2000
  • Architects: Warren Henderson & Rick Smith
  • Course Access: Public
  • Walking Rules: Carts & Caddies Available

Score Card Information:

  • Championship: 7,300 yards, Par 72, 75.4 Rating/147 Slope
  • Black: 6,702 yards, Par 72, 72.8 Rating/137 Slope
  • White: 6,244 yards, Par 72, 70.3 Rating/129 Slope
  • Red: 5,107 yards, Par 72, 70.1 Rating/121 Slope

The second round of the trip was highly anticipated for me personally.  I have seen the pictures of this course like many of you.  The setting on the bluffs above Lake Michigan is simply stunning.

Our day certainly didn’t disappoint.  It was chilly, but clear.  On the back nine we were treated to some of the wind that really gives the course its bite.  We were pretty beat by the end of the day, but it was great experience with some truly world class scenery.

The course is built on 240 acres that used to be apple and cherry orchards and wooded areas.  Many of the mounds and native areas were molded during the routing to give it the scale it has today.  Since it opened many of the greens have been modified to help with pace of play.  This would also mark my first encounter with these two architects.  I am always interested to see new course designers.

The course features multiple guest rooms on site as well as cottages.  Once the second course is completed it will be a true destination.  It is remote, but the golf is awesome.  I played the white tees and all yardages reflect that.

The entry sign is above and the clubhouse is below.

It was a little chilly on the day we played.  Luckily, the course provides cart covers and even a portable heater.  We toughed it out without the heater though.

Below is an assortment of different views throughout the property that I found breathtaking.

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Hole 1 – 459 yards – Par 5

The first hole is a gentle start to your round.  From my tees it was a short hole that could normally be reached in two.  However, on a cold day it plays longer up the hill.  The fairway is massive.

The main goal on the second shot is to avoid the cavernous bunker you see on the right.  The green is huge, but any leave will be better than the sand.

Below are a few looks at the green.

Hole 2 – 144 yards – Par 3

I liked this hole for some reason.  You have options with the front flag.  You can utilize the backstop or try to be spot on with distance.  Again, the main hazard here is the swath of sand to the right.

The green is bisected by a large slope that definitely makes distance control important.

Hole 3 – 467 yards – Par 5

This one is definitely reachable in two.  The elevated tee gives your drive a boost and the fairways can be firm.  You will want to avoid the left side of this one.

It helps to know where you are going when the below is your view on the second shot.  I’m still not sure of the best line.

The green is quite large and perfect for accommodating long second shots.  Beware of misses long or left.

Hole 4 – 311 yards – Par 4

This short hole gives you plenty of options off the tee.  Depending on wind direction it can be driveable.  A safe play though is a long iron/hybrid off the tee for a wedge second shot.

The green is massive with a bit of a punch bowl shape.  Shots should feed toward center flags.

In the photo below you can see the bowl shape, but also a false front.  This is a truly tricky green.

Hole 5 – 557 yards – Par 5

You definitely won’t mind the wind at your back on this hole.  If it’s a headwind then get ready for a battle.  A good line is down the right edge of the tee boxes.

The hole bends slightly to the left and looks as if it goes directly down into the lake.

The green is quite large.  So you may hit an indifferent shot, but you will be faced with a very long putt.  Deep bunkers lurk as well.

Your putts can not only be long, but also quite undulating.

Hole 6 – 149 yards – Par 3

This is a difficult hole, but the length makes it manageable.  It obviously plays uphill all the way so take more club.  The big bunker in the front is not to be trifled with.

The greens here are something else.  This is a perfect example.

Hole 7 – 409 yards – Par 4

Due to the slope this hole plays longer than the yardage.  Thankfully, there is plenty of fairway.  Err on the right side of the hole.

Below are a few views of the demanding second shot.

Here is a look at the green.  It’s not too bad and gives you a break after the difficult long game shots.

Hole 8 – 352 yards – Par 4

A shortish hole on the card, the real distance is longer with the slope.  The smart play is to favor the left side of the fairway to set up the best angle on the second.

The hill only intensifies for the approach shot.

The green is expansive as seen below.

Hole 9 – 162 yards – Par 3

The first shot here plays downhill, but the real challenge is the serious slope around the green.  Everything slopes from back right to front left.  If you get your ball rolling the wrong way it could go for a while!

Here is a look at the green from the back right.

Hole 10 – 399 yards – Par 4

This view evoked thoughts of Scotland.  The massive dunes on each side were beautiful.  The drive will get more distance from the elevated position.

Below is the real view of the second shot.

A closer look reveals the multiple challenges of this shot.  The front bunker and long, left are absolutely dead.  Plain and simple you must hit a good shot here.

Hole 11 – 563 yards – Par 5

The slope on this hole is unbelievable.  Keep an eye on the slope in the following photos.  It is way downhill off the tee as you can see.

The third shot plays over even more undulation.  There isn’t much trouble here if you have a wedge in your hands.  It’s all about distance control.

The green continues the theme of the hole.  You will have some break on your putt. Embrace the inevitable.

Hole 12 – 378 yards – Par 4

At this point the course turned the scenery up to 11.  The blue waters of Lake Michigan and the huge bunker down the left just scream golf perfection.  Luckily, the tee shot has room and you don’t have to hit driver depending on the wind.

The approach view is majestic as the green sits out on the point looking like there is nothing behind.  Don’t get distracted by the view because the front bunker is looming.

We have another massive green here.

Hole 13 – 160 yards – Par 3

There is more room short of the green than it appears.  If you get a good wind the shot is not that bad.  Into the wind though and this shot can become quite stressful.

A closer look.

The size of the greens makes it difficult to show the sloping and still show you the whole surface.  I would say I found these greens to be fair regarding the reads.

Hole 14 – 304 yards – Par 4

I love a good driveable hole.  For me it isn’t possible, but for longer hitters this hole presents some options.  A drive at the green must be precise, but if you want to attack with a wedge there is more room for a lay up.

Below is a look at the green.  We had to search for some balls so I didn’t get a photo of the approach.  That’s golf!

Hole 15 – 464 yards – Par 5

While this may seem like an opportunity to get home in two, like many things here it will depend on the wind.  The severe uphill already makes it play longer than the number.  Any substantial wind will make this seem like it’s 550 yards.  The further left you go the more carry you will need.

The second shot.  The green is out there I promise.

A closer look.

The green is open in the front to give players the option to run the ball onto the surface.

Here is a view of the green from the right.

Hole 16 – 441 yards – Par 4

The golfer is helped on this hole by the downhill slope.  Additionally, you should get the opposite wind direction from the previous hole.  So one of them will be an advantage.  Bust one here.

I had a long second shot, but flag is straight down this photo in the distance.

The green below has plenty of slope that you can see past the near the flag and towards the back of the surface.

Hole 17 – 150 yards – Par 3

This hole is a nightmare for slicers.  You cannot miss right.  The slope and wind will make club selection difficult.

The green is quite long with plenty of slope.  Direction is the most important thing to have a putt at birdie.

Hole 18 – 375 yards – Par 4

The last hole is a worthy finisher.  We played it into the wind which made it much more difficult.  You can see the outline of the fairway below.  Anything on the short grass is the play.

The second shot is way up the hill back to the club house.

You will finish your day with one more sloping green that can be quite devilish. Putts from back to front will be very fast.

Arcadia Bluffs is spectacular.  It is very easy to get distracted by the sheer beauty of the place.  Once you get past that the holes are super fun.  The wind can create interesting shots and you will more than likely use all the clubs in your bag.  The firm conditions give you plenty of options on short game shots and make you think all day.  If the second course is anywhere near the original this will be a fantastic 36 hole spot.

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6 thoughts on “Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club

  1. Fourth green looks fun and the sixth hole is really captivating as well. Nice little loop out there in Michigan, especially if you can hit up Kingsley and Lost Dunes (Crystal would be awesome but keeping expectations in check).

  2. Emily O

    Great photos and such a fun course (definitely have to be observant and play smart, which is hard to do with those amazing views!). I am excited to make the trek up when the second course opens!

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