A growing number
of new courses along with redesigns and
renovations to several longstanding must-play
venues has pumped new life into the Southwest
Michigan area golf market.
courses such as Island Hills in Centreville,
The Blackberry Patch in Coldwater and The
Medalist in Marshall have emerged with
an upscale feel, while other well-known
courses that have withstood the test of
time — such as Marywood in Battle
Creek and Thornapple Creek in Kalamazoo — have
made improvements to make a great round
of golf even better.
Other outstanding venues for golf
in Southwest Michigan can be found at The Prairies,
Lynx of Allegan (pictured above) and Bedford
Valley. Most of these courses are located within
30 miles of Kalamazoo.
There are island greens, and there are island tees. And then there’s
Island Hills, which gives golfers the best of both worlds.
Located about a half hour south
of Kalamazoo near Three Rivers, Island Hills
provides 18 holes of championship resort style
golf around Lake Templene and is brought to golfers
by Tom and Lori Templin.
Designed by Ray Hearn, Island
Hills is a unique setting for a championship
golf course that has an interesting front nine
which just gets better and better on each hole,
working to a crescendo on the back nine.
It’s a beautiful golf course
for 12 holes. The final six are nothing short
“ It just builds up to a
dramatic finish,” Island Hills head professional
Tom Wicklund said. “It’s a great
Three holes are laid out on a
40-acre island-like peninsula. The 18th tee is
from the island heading back to the mainland.
“ The combination of the
lake, the peninsula and the island with some
beautiful Michigan land forms make it a very
unique place,” Hearn said.
Beginning with a friendly forced
carry over water on No. 1, Island Hills gets
better and better, working its way toward the
dramatic finishing holes that are routed around — and
in some cases, in — Lake Templene.
A waste bunker measuring a half
mile in length outlines the entire side of two
holes on the front side.
“ It’s one of the most unique things I’ve ever seen,” Tom
Templin said of the waste bunker. “It’s something like 6,000 yards
of sand. It makes the hole interesting, and really, it takes a bad shot to be
No. 13 is a 655-yard, three-shot,
par-5 with a double fairway, followed by scenic
back-to-back par-3s playing to peninsula greens
offering different, yet outstanding looks of
Lake Templene. The back tee on a 323-yard cape
hole is set on a small island where golfers can
walk out on a pier and shoot their way back over
the lake onto the fairway.
No. 17 is a long and narrow 445-yard
par-4, which plays even longer into prevailing
winds. A small waterfall trickling from a nearby
creek awaits golfers at the end of No. 18, beckoning
those who have played it to come back again.
IS A WINNER
With an outstanding layout provided by Ann Arbor-based William
Newcombe & Associates, The Medalist has been upgraded to upscale
status with a new ownership group in place. Newcombe has left his
mark on — among others — outstanding courses such as
The Heather at Boyne Highlands and Thornapple Pointe in Grand Rapids.
“ I think this is one of
the best courses Newcombe has done,” Medalist
general manager Lowell Weaver said. “He
used the topography of the land to make a gorgeous
course. I’ve played a lot of golf in Southern
Michigan, but I haven’t played a better
New ownership has provided continuous
cart paths, tee area signs, sprinkler head yardage
markers and clubhouse improvements to give the
four-year-old course its new upscale identity.
“ The golf course was there,
but hadn’t been tweaked,” Weaver
said. “It has been fixed up the way a course
this great deserves to be.”
The Medalist has a resort-like
feel to it with wetlands and rolling hills located
Soft rolling hills and mounding
are Newcombe traits. Bent grass tees, greens
and fairways bring an already outstanding layout
“ The wetlands add a lot
of character to the course,” Weaver said.
The logo for The Medalist is
the sand hill crane, coinciding with a nearby
bird sanctuary located adjacent to the golf course.
There are plenty of opportunities for birdies
on The Medalist, as well.
“ It’s a golfer’s
course for the true golfer,” Weaver said. “People
love it, because it’s challenging, yet
fair. There are a lot of risk and reward shots.”
PATCH OF PERFECTION
Beginning its second full season in the year 2000, The Blackberry
Patch in Coldwater is attracting golfers from a three-state region
because of its proximity, playability and credibility.
Nearly 90 acres of wetlands cover
the 350-acre golf course, providing a feel of
wispy peacefulness. Three bridges — including
one that spans 400 yards between holes No. 13
and 14 — connect the course and allows
for easy travel over the protected grounds.
Mature hardwood trees add to
It can play short and sweet or
long and strong. From the back tees, The Blackberry
Patch plays over 7,100 yards with a difficult
slope rating of 141. It becomes easier and more
friendly from the forward tees.
“ The design of the golf
course challenges players all levels,” director
of golf and operations Bob Magness said.
The diverse look provides golf
through the hardwoods, but a small section on
holes No.’s 6, 7 and 8 — and at No.’s
11 and 12 — are more open with a links
“ You get a little look
at everything,” Magness said. “Some
areas are completely in the hardwoods and others
are in the wetlands. It provides a nice complement
of each other.”
The bentgrass fairways, tees
and greens feature a new strain of A-4 Bentgrass
that allows greens to be mowed at extremely low
levels, providing greens that are fast and true.
An upscale practice facility includes two full
acres of bent grass tee areas, a practice green
with bunkers and five raised target greens on
the landing areas with conditions emulating those
on the golf course itself.
Additional course information
and directions to it can be found on the web
WATER & HILLS
Thornapple Creek is a pretty golf course set on rolling hills,
with a well-balanced combination of woods and water. The course
features several elevated tee areas to go along with the different
types of terrain.
Thornapple Creek literally meanders through the front nine of the
course that shares its name, while Thornapple Lake comes into play
on the back side. The golf course plays 6,595 yards from the back
tees, 6,122 from the middle and 4,926 from the front.
After the current ownership group
purchased Thornapple Creek two years ago, a big
investment was made in maintenance and upkeep
and building improvements at the clubhouse, along
with a new fleet of carts and continuous asphalt
cart path to drive them on. A redesign of a picturesque
peninsula green at No. 16 has made that par-5
hole easier to play and even prettier to look
“ It’s just a beautiful
piece of property for a golf course to be in,” director
of golf John Brussee said.
Every hole is a good one on this
course, and we have it in fantastic shape.”
OF GREAT GOLF
Marywood has long been one of Battle Creek’s hallmark public
golf courses since it opened way back in 1926 with its rolling
hills, fast greens and trademark flower beds. Treadwell Golf Associates
took over in 1998 and committed $500,000 and preparing the old
gal for the new millennium with a new fleet of carts and continuous
asphalt cart paths, new irrigation system and remodeled clubhouse
and banquet facilities.
The classic golf course design
at Marywood features a lot of bunkers, water
that comes into play throughout a round. Marywood’s
four sets of tees play 6,631 yards from the back
and 5,174 from the front.
“ We’re trying to
re-establish the roots of Marywood in the Battle
Creek area to make it a source of pride for the
community,” head professional and general
manager Michael Grooms said. “It’s
still the best public course in Battle Creek.”
Cedar Farm is a unique little sister course to Cedar Creek near
The Farm is built on the ground
of a former centennial dairy farm. The layout
includes 11 par-3 holes and seven par-4s.
The Lynx of Allegan, located
near Otsego, meanwhile, is set on a diverse,
rolling terrain with elevated tees, hardwoods
and other features more commonly associated with
Northern Michigan golf courses. It is playable,
accessible and enjoyable.