I RECENTLY PLAYED GOLF in Northern Michigan for the first time. It certainly won’t be my last visit to the shores of Lake Michigan and the lovely Victorian towns around Little Traverse Bay, Lake Charlevoix and Walloon Lake (where Ernest Hemingway spent his first 22 summers). We stayed one night at the historic Stafford’s Perry Hotel in downtown Petoskey, overlooking Lake Michigan, and three nights at Boyne Highlands, a delightful family ski-golf resort with four impressive courses by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and Arthur Hills. You’ll see it on lists of top destinations for golf buddy trips — and with good reason. The resort is part of the local Boyne Golf group: three resorts with 10 championship courses, three of which rank among the state’s top 10 public access tracks.
The golf highlight of our trip came on our last day when we entered the gated community surrounding the elegant Inn at Bay Harbor (part of the Boyne group) and checked in at the Bay Harbor Golf Club on Little Traverse Bay. The resort is home to three diverse Arthur Hills nine-hole layouts — The Links, The Quarry and The Preserve. We chose to play the Links/Quarry combo, ranked among Golf Digest’s top 100 public courses. Bordered by waving grasses and marshy areas, The Links never strays far from the lake, and the views across the water are fantastic. After a couple of wooded holes, The Quarry plays around, into and out of a sprawling former shale quarry marked by stone cliffs, deep gorges and natural ponds. It’s a dramatic layout with some of the most unusual holes I’ve seen. Coupled with The Links, I can truly say no two holes of the 18 are alike — or ordinary. We did not play the third nine, The Preserve: wooded, natural and a haven for wildlife.
HOLE 3 | 380 yards, par 4
Faced with a split fairway off the tee, you can hit across the edge of a chasm to a lower, narrower fairway on the left (which offers a good angle to the green) or take the wider route straight ahead and face an aerial approach over a deep bunker to the shallow green.
HOLE 4 | 178 yards, par 3
While it’s ranked the second-easiest hole on the nine, from the back tees your ball flight is along the edge of a cliff. Missing the tiered waterfront green left or long lands you on the rocky beach. We were well ahead of pace, so we climbed down to the water’s edge to search for Petoskey stones, the state’s official rock, for which the area is known. The distinctive fossilized coral pieces are good souvenirs of a memorable round.
HOLE 7 | 500 yards, par 5
The wide fairway of The Links’ signature hole runs along a 150-foot bluff above the lake, culminating in a blind approach to a hilltop green.
HOLE 8 | 225 yards, par 3
One of the most wooded holes on this nine, the tricky downhill par 3 is surrounded by trees and features a plateau green with a false front and deep bunkers set into its left and front faces.
HOLE 3 | 561 yards, par 5
The No. 1 handicap on this nine requires a well-placed second shot to the end of an elevated fairway followed by a carry over a boggy gully to a tabletop green. From the back tees, erring to the right means your ball is lost in a creek far below the fairway.
HOLE 4 | 435 yards, par 4
Foliage, rocks and a bunker on the right provide visual intimidation off the tee, but the fairway offers a decent landing area. The fairway doglegs slightly right to a green wedged between a pond and a deep bunker.
HOLE 5 | 495 yards, par 5
This super par 5 calls for a drive across an inland lake to a fairway doglegging left, narrowing and dropping down to a stream crossing to reach the shallow green. A rock wall backs the putting surface, and the lake lurks on the right. An educated hook off the tee is a valuable tool.
HOLE 6 | 332 yards, par 4
It’s easy to overshoot the dogleg to the left and have a bad lie against a scruffy hillside. Going too far right on your drive lands you in wetlands. But being timid off the tee will leave you with a longish carry that might not hold on the green. It’s a target golf conundrum, for sure.
HOLE 8 | 205 yards, par 3
This downhill one-shotter backs up to the lake and is complicated by a pond and stone wall all across the front of the green, so there’s no forgiveness to be had for a shot short or long.
Bay Harbor Golf Club
5800 Coastal Ridge Drive
Bay Harbor, MI 49770
tel 231 439 4028
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