Forest Dunes Golf Club

Forest Dunes Golf Club – Played May 2017

  • Rankings: Golf Magazine #72, Golf Digest Public #23, Golf Magazine Public #33
  • Location: 6376 Forest Dunes Drive, Roscommon, Michigan
  • Year: 2002
  • Architects: Tom Weiskopf
  • Course Access: Public
  • Walking Rules: Carts & Caddies Available

Score Card Information:

  • I: 7,116 yards, Par 72, 75.2 Rating/146 Slope
  • II: 6,550 yards, Par 72, 72.4 Rating/139 Slope
  • Combo II/III: 6,330 yards, Par 72, 71.3 Rating/135 Slope
  • III: 5,888 yards, Par 72, 69.2 Rating/127 Slope (Men’s), 74.8 Rating/143 Slope (Women’s)
  • IV: 4,993 yards, Par 72, 69.6 Rating/136 Slope

The last stop on my Michigan golf itinerary was the well-respected Forest Dunes.  The drive in was quite interesting.  I had vaguely remembered reading about the way your GPS would take you in and that there was an alternate route.  In my early morning mindset I forgot this information.  Which lead me to this…

About six miles out from the course the paved roads stopped.  The dirt road was solid and very wide and looked like it was set up for logging trucks or something similar.  I kept on going as my tee time was approaching.  A few turns the GPS recommended were a little sketchy and I passed.  Eventually I made it back to paved road and the course.  So let that be a lesson to anyone headed to Forest Dunes, give the shop a call if you want to stay on the asphalt.

I do have some history to share about the course.  The course was built on glacial deposits within the Huron National Forest.  It was originally completed in 1999, but the lenders ended up foreclosing on it before it ever opened.  Two years passed until one of the original investors, The Detroit Carpenters Pension Trust Fund, stepped in to save it.  There was plenty of work to do as the course was overgrown after all that time.  Eventually the restoration was finished and the course opened with 56 members.  It has been described as a combination of Augusta National and Pine Valley.

There are also other activities at the resort along with wonderful accommodations.  I recommend checking out all the details at forestdunesgolf.com.  Let’s get into the tour.

The sign at the front entrance is large and welcoming.

The clubhouse is really beautiful and perfectly complements the rustic vibe.

Below is a look at the driving range.

The carts let you know where you are and that there may be some wildlife.

Due to the temperature being 39 degrees when I teed off I opted for the Combo II/III tees.  I’ll explain the teeing system momentarily.

Hole 1 – 375 yards – Par 4 – Eagle’s Perch

So out to the side of every tee box is a post with the Roman numeral of your tee and then a pine cone shaped marker is on the tee.  I thought this was a unique touch and made it easy to recognize your teeing ground without having to guess.

The first hole features a carry over a large bunker, but the actual distance isn’t that much.  The landing area is plenty wide.

The fairway rolls down and back up to the green.  The large bunker to the right is to be avoided.

Hole 2 – 387 yards – Par 4 – Aspen

This hole bends slightly to the left.  With a draw you can wrap your drive around the trees and be in great position.

The approach is open in the middle, but guarded by bunkers otherwise.

Hole 3 – 178 yards – Par 3 – Table Top

The name of this hole is apropos.  The green is sitting up and pretty flat.  You will want to avoid the bunkers, but the green is quite large so you should be able to hit it in regulation.

Hole 4 – 372 yards – Par 4 – Lone Pine

This one flips you around from 2 and bends to the right.  You will be blocked out if you push your drive to the right.  Fairway bunkers await up the left side.

The right side of the green is protected by deep bunkers, but the left side is very open.  The smart play is to the left side.

Below is a look at the green.

Hole 5 – 521 yards – Par 5 – Mason Trail

The landing area is very wide here and presents a downhill slope to get more out of your drive.  Wail away from this tee.

A look at the second shot.

The only real trouble for a third shot is the bunker seen here.  Anything offline with a wedge in your hand deserves the trouble.

A closer view of the putting surface.

Hole 6 – 344 yards – Par 4 – Gamble

I had mixed feelings about this hole due to the tree in the middle.  I’ve never been a huge fan of trouble in the middle of a fairway.  Oh well, it’s still there.  You must account for the tree and fairway bunkers on your tee shot.

You may have to work your second shot like me if you leave yourself near the tree.

The green has a mound in front of the left side and bunkers around.  The sand is situated a bit away from the green though.

Hole 7 – 499 yards – Par 5 – Goalposts

A shorter par five here and you can see the trees that give the hole its name.  A draw around the trees will get the most distance.

The view as you round the corner.

Trees can present problems on the approach shot as well.  Plenty of sand is waiting to gobble up indifferent strikes.

I would say the green is probably the easiest part of this hole.

Hole 8 – 375 yards – Par 4 – Forest’s Edge

The shot is fairly open, but if you hit your driver straight you may run out of room and run into the trees.  The further right you go is better, preferably with a fade.  The bunker is in play.

The second shot really opens up as you come out of the trees.  The water is a definite hazard as you don’t want to push one here.

As you can see below there is plenty of room to avoid the water on the right.

Hole 9 – 163 yards – Par 3 – The Point

We are fully out of the trees on the ninth and your new challenge is the water.  The setting here in front of the clubhouse is nice, but when the wind whips this can be a tough shot.

Hole 10 – 360 yards – Par 4 – Decision

The name of this hole is fitting.  On this one more than any of the others I wished I had a caddie.  You can go left or right off the tee, the choice is yours.

The approach can be seen below.

The green is quite unique.  The bunker pushes back into it making it shaped like the letter n.  Depending on the pin position you can have some very interesting putts.

See what I mean?

Hole 11 – 163 yards – Par 3 – Prairie

You can see the Pine Valley inspiration on this hole with the bunkering.  The green is quite large though so the shot is not overly difficult.

Hole 12 – 371 yards – Par 4 – White Tail

I like the visual challenge on this hole.  The landing area is more forgiving than it appears and the hole is only tight for a short distance.  A draw works best.

Once you are in the fairway the hole is all out in front of you.  Avoiding the water is the first priority, but birdies are definitely in play.

Hole 13 – 344 yards – Par 4 – Twins

There isn’t much to this tee shot, especially at this distance.  You can certainly go with less than driver and have a short approach.

The green is the most interesting feature on this hole.  The second photo illustrates the steep slopes on the back side of the surface.  The contouring here really amps up the difficulty.

Hole 14 – 375 yards – Par 4 – Meadow

There is room here to drive, but water will come into play up the left side.  The shorter precise drive may be the best option here.

Below you can see the water encroaching and the bunkers to avoid.

If you are in the right side of the fairway you can get this favorable angle and avoid the water.  That front bunker is a beast though.

Hole 15 – 531 yards – Par 5 – Hideaway

This will be a three shot hole for many, which gives you options on the tee shot.  There is plenty of room for driver if you want it.

The fairway angles upward as it gets closer to the green and obscures the view of the putting surface.

Below you can see that you have the option to fly shots all the way to the green or trundle them over the slope.

Hole 16 – 198 yards – Par 3 – Hell’s Acre

Plenty of sand to traverse here and the name is an obvious homage to Pine Valley.  The challenge is certainly there, but with a large green good scores can be had.  Focus on a solid strike and you should find a par.

Hole 17 – 278 yards – Par 4 – Wild Dunes

Weiskopf loves a short par 4.  I agree with him.  There is plenty of sand on this hole as well as options.  You can lay back for a full shot, go for it, or hit driver like I did to leave myself with a pitch.

The green is elevated and can make for difficult pitches.

Hole 18 – 496 yards – Par 5 – Eagle Chance

The last is definitely a chance to get a shot back.  Avoid the fairway bunkers and you will have a shot at getting home in two.

Water juts in front of the green and to the left so second shots need to be solid to carry.  The bunker guards the other side.

You can see that there is some good slope in the right side of the photo below, but other parts of the green allow for simpler putts.

Forest Dunes also has an extra hole, meant for fun and settling wagers.  Check it out below.

I can’t say enough about Forest Dunes.  It was one of my favorites from the trip.  It was probably the best conditioned course of all of them.  While I was freezing at first I still had a great time.  I can’t think of a much better endorsement for a golf course!

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