Location: Arcadia, MI
Architects: Rick Smith & Warren Henderson
August 4, 2007
In many ways Northern Michigan is still a rugged and rustic place. I was surprised on my first trip to the area to see roads that were not paved. This is all part of the regions charm . . . as is Arcadia Bluffs. This doozy of a course sits right on Lake Michigan as you can see in the photo below taken from the clubhouse.
I’ve been lucky the two times I’ve played this course and the wind has not really been a factor. I hear that it can it can reach levels where you are hitting 3 or 4 extra clubs to compensate. Of course holes that are meant to be played with wind behind you, like the 460 yard par 4 #16, can be a real bear without that wind. I did manage to get there in 2 but then executed a perfect 3 putt.
Though the course opened in 2000 it has the feel of a traditional seaside links style course. Natural fescue grasses all over the course make play difficult if you get off the beaten path.
The course itself is manicured immaculately. The fairways are lush and nice and the greens roll true as can be. Speaking of the greens . . . they’re huge. I’m talking huge. I suspect that there are 8 or 9 available hole locations on these babies. They’re fast too so when it comes to the long putts you sometimes end up with on huge greens its all about judging the speed. As you can see in the picture below the greens are not lacking contour either. I have no doubt that whomever selects the hole locations was a bully in grade school.
There are many great holes at Arcadia Bluffs. The course is literally built on the side of a cliff. The scenery is epic and every corner you turn brings a vista better than the last. Some of my favorites holes are #4 (below) with its downhill drive towards Lake Michigan then slight dogleg right.
The par 3 #13 (below) with its 190 yard carry over a crevasse is another great one. You really cant be short here.
In order to get a cheaper rate we waited until late in the day to tee off. The good news is that Northern Michigan summer days are long and teeing off at 4pm will safely get you back to the clubhouse with daylight to spare. For those still out on the course as the daylight fades a bagpiper stands at the top of the bluffs and lets his tune carry out over the entire course to warn golfers that daylight is getting scarce.
This place is in the middle of nowhere, but it is well worth getting to. Playing against the backdrop of Lake Michigan is pretty fantastic and the course itself is a real treat. Don’t forget to bring some shag balls up to the tee box on #12 to see how far into Lake Michigan you can hit them.