Pure Michigan golf at Forest Dunes in Roscommon is loopy; thanks to Michigan’s own Tom Doak of Renaissance Golf Design convincing owner Lew Thompson (a trucking magnate who grew up with dirt floors in Arkansas) of a double golf course design that reverses in a sense day by day. Play the Red Course one day and it is reset the next day to become the Black course backwards, a game of golf chess. Well, the reversal is not linear, hence the name the Loop Course. We took a whack at the black with double bagging looper Chris Mullen and returned to the red version day two pushing our bags on carts. It takes a while to wrap your head around this walk only, loop de lew design but “both courses” were great fun. The Loop officially opened this year with limited access in ’16 and has received accolades all around. Combined with the original Forest Dunes course, there are 54 holes of heroic proportions in the Huron Forest.
Formerly known as the South Branch Ranch, it was owned by the bootlegging mafia, The Purple Gang from Detroit and back in the day a bulldozer was digging deep in search for Jimmy Hoffa. Now birders flock from all parts of the world searching for the endangered Kirkland’s Warbler who migrates all the way from the Bahamas. And of course golfers are searching for their birdies. The terrain is relatively flat and very peaceful in the middle of the woods, a bit like the Sand hills of North Carolina but with tall northern jack pines. All the sand is harvested on premise with a large pyramid of the granules staged for refills. Consistency in the bunkers is very fluffy. Wispy side grass and ferns demand a few provisional balls here and there. The greens are tricky but good speed. When hitting your club on the ground, there is a sonar ping, an echo to be confused with a shotgun in the distance. A bird might call out, the wind might whistle through your bottle of Leinenhiugel’s Summer Shandy, and golfers will chat it up. Otherwise it is a silent walk.
When the food is terrific, you only need one restaurant and that is the case with Sangomore’s in the Adirondack style clubhouse. Try the pecan crusted chicken salad for lunch and don’t miss the Walleye for dinner. All can be served at the intimate, casual pavilion, viewing the course and lake with a big screen TV, bar and fireplace. Or stay in the golf villas and cook if you must (not!). Hang in the living room sharing stories, cards or what not. The showers refresh and the beds guarantee a good night’s sleep for another round the next day. You will want to replay. 90 minutes from Traverse City airport, Forest Dunes delivers pure fresh air and Pure Michigan golf!