Not surprisingly, Western Michigan is an excellent golf destination
SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. – In between raindrops, I’m finding out there’s some pretty good golf on the western shoreline of Michigan. Unfortunately, the folks up here, like much of the country, have had more than their fair share of rain.
That was certainly evident at historic Point O’ Woods Golf and Country Club in Benton Harbor, Mich. This is the place that has hosted 38 Western Amateurs, won by such notable golfers as Tiger Woods, Curtis Strange, Ben Crenshaw and Jack Nicklaus, to name a few. Folks, this is classic golf, as Johnny Miller might say. There’s nothing tricked up about Point O’ Woods, which was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and opened in 1958. It’s just solid golf through the hardwoods, a few hazards thrown in, a bunch of doglegs, and rough for anyone who strays off the fairway.
Except this was U.S. Open rough. Not that they intended it that way, but as superintendent Ron Fox says, “We just can’t get out there to cut it enough.”
In other words, you can’t mow when it’s constantly raining. And when you do get out there, you can only lower it by so much, or you will have a mess. So for our round at Point O’Woods, it was hit the fairway or else.
Still, there’s no denying the quality of this golf course. This is a layout that requires a little game management. My guess is that even at 6,800 yards, most players, even professionals, would have a hard time overpowering it. With the rough at 2 ½ to 3 inches, finding yourself with a 20-yard pitch shots over bunkers to tight pins usually translates into bogeys, not birdies.
Anyway, despite the weather, we’ve managed to get in a couple of other courses as well. The Golf Club at Harbor Shores, built on more than 500 acres, is where next year’s Senior PGA Championship will be held. It’s a really good individual collection of holes, but there are some treks between greens and tees. The players will be shuttled, and it will be interesting to see how they handle the crowds.
Today, I missed out on to the Ravines Golf Club, a cool Arnold Palmer design located in the charming town of Saugatuk. No golf, but we did have a killer breakfast in town at Pumpernickels Eatery, which served up great cheese hash browns, French toast, fresh eggs and bacon.
And after the rain today, I was able to zip through Hawkshead Golf Club near South Haven. Hawkshead, which has sort of windswept look, might be the most playable Arthur Hills course I’ve ever experienced. Plus, they’ve got a real nice bed-and-breakfast setup here, perfect for couples or golf groups. The restaurant is also quite good at Hawkshead.
Tomorrow, it’s Grand Haven Golf Club, which is owned by Dan Rooney and his father. Not to be confused with the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Rooney is the F-16 pilot and three-time Iraq war veteran behind the Patriot Day golf movement that raises money for families of service men who sacrificed themselves for their country. Unfortunately, the forecast is gloomy once again for tomorrow morning, but we’re going over there anyway to get the story.
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