2002: Golfweek Preferred - Forest Dunes joins list of links gems

Grayling, Mich.

Choosing where to play in Northern Michigan is not the problem. The number of options continues to expand. Courses like “The Heather” in Boyne Highlands established the standard. Black Lake Golf Club, a newer Rees Jones design on land owned by the United Auto Workers in Onaway, should be on everybody’s list. There are numerous others.

But the sleeper that may soon evolve into the state’s best hidden gem is Forest Dunes Golf and Country Club. Forest Dunes features the always first-rate work of accomplished course architect and former British Open champion Tom Weiskopf. And it is located in a remote area near Grayling, south of what Michigan golf entrepreneurs call the “Gaylord Golf Mecca.”

In June, Forest Dunes’ original membership and the union officials that bought the property reached an agreement that will allow public play starting Aug. 1.

“We were trying to steal the golf course from the dunes,” said Forest Dunes’ managing partner Tom Fous of Weiskopf’s design. Fous added that the course eventually will return to private membership, perhaps as early as 2004. But the powers that be have decided to showcase it in the meantime.

Weiskopf’s layout is simultaneously varied and integrated. The long par-3 16th, followed by the short but treacherous par-4 17th capture the dunesy-woodsy spirit of the design. “Those two holes incorporate those elements the best,” Fous said.

The only head-scratcher is the par-4 10th. It features a double fairway but the approach from the left side is longer and more difficult, making you wonder why anybody would even consider not playing up the right side.

Fous, who worked with Weiskopf on the original routing, says the plan is to narrow the landing area on the right side of No. 10. Once that happens, there will not be a weak hole on the course.

Green fees are expected to be $65 on weekdays and $75 on weekends. Call 989-275-0700 for tee times and driving directions.

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