Prior to 1963, the entire Gun Lake area did not have a golf course. Local enthusiasts had to travel out of town to get their weekend morning fix, and younger residents had nowhere to become acquainted with the game. It would take a man who had never played a round of golf in his life to give the community a welcoming locale to practice the game and unveil heat seeking three-woods. This visionary, Frank Tichvon, turned his greenhorn status into green-thumbed activism, building a modest yet challenging nine-hole course that thrilled locals with tee shots down beautiful tree-lined fairways and breaking putts across manicured greens. The course's popularity brought about the construction of a second nine-hole layout, and by 1987, the course had grown into a 27-hole destination sprawled across more than 200 acres of verdant Michigan terrain. Eighteen-hole combinations range in length from 5,200 yards up to 6,373, challenging golfers with tight fairways framed by mature arbors that kidnap gullible golf balls.
Course at a Glance: * 27-hole course, par of 36 on each 9-hole side * 18-hole length of up to 6,373 yards from back tees * 18-hole rating of 67.2?69.1 from back tees * 18-hole slope of 105?110 from back tees * Two sets of tees
As the sun rises each morning, the smell of dew summons golfers to Orchard Hills Golf Course, a scenic, 27-hole complex with one 18-hole course and a separate, 9-hole track. Cleaved through 6,026 yards of tree-lined terrain, the 18-hole monolith requires precise play and whispered Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes to conquer its topographical challenges. The par 72 layout showcases multiple memorable shots, including forced carries onto water-protected greens on both the second and fourth holes.
Slightly shorter than the other two nines, the East course blankets the countryside with a straightforward layout that begins with a tricky, 425-yard right dogleg. A staff of golf pros presides over Orchard Hills’ pro shop, where guests can upgrade their equipment, schedule a lesson to hone swings, or learn to read greens written in their doctor’s handwriting.
18-Hole Course at a Glance:
Within the serene confines of the Railside Golf Club, the Railside Bar & Grille's eclectic menu fills gaping hunger holes with tantalizing dinner fare, including Michigan-grown products. Savory garlic-and-sesame-glazed chicken pieces, wrapped in warm wonton blankets with green onions, cream cheese, and bacon ($7.95), are great for warming up appetites and the pockets of your caddie's trousers. Sunny, panoramic vistas can be savored in the earthen-toned dining room while mouths ruminate on the baby spinach greens and tangy crumbled goat cheese playing host to granola, dried cranberries, pepadew peppers, and bacon dressing ($8.95; $10.90 with chicken). For classic dining, apply knife and fork tenderly to a new york strip steak with house-made peppercorn sauce, served with crispy onion straws ($23.95) and paired well with sips from Railside’s well-traveled wine list.
When describing his approach to designing a golf course, renowned course architect Donald Ross said "a golf course should be subtly deceptive, rather than unduly penalizing," a philosophy he put to work in 1908, when he crafted the 18-hole course at The Highlands Golf Club. Measuring 6,519 yards from the tips, the course offers a fair test for golfers across the handicap spectrum while still supplying enough challenges to attract legendary golfers such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Ben Hogan, who played the course when it was a fixture on the Senior PGA Tour. Strategically placed bunkers and fairway-hugging tree lines that cast shadows resembling golfers' fears loom throughout the course, but its most memorable challenge awaits at the 14th hole—a long par 5 that doglegs left and ends with a forced carry over a pond and onto the green.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole course designed by Donald Ross * Length of 6,519 yards from the farthest tees * Course rating of 71.5 from back tees * Slope rating of 133 from back tees * Five tee options * Scorecard
In 1929, the Wilson family sculpted nine golf holes into their fruit and dairy farm, weaving well-manicured holes among the orchards and appropriating an old farmhouse to serve as the first clubhouse. Today, after several clubhouse iterations, the family still owns the course, having overseen an expansion to two full 18-hole courses during its storied history. Water is featured prominently on both layouts and a diverse gathering of trees line the fairways, from low apple trees that bloom radiant white flowers in the springtime to towering pines vying for inclusion in Wilson family holiday photos.
Course at a Glance:
The Acorn Grille at Thousand Oaks Golf Club melds a variety of upscale dishes with wines and attentive service. The chefs and staff train their eyes on the details, whether manicuring platings or refining in-house recipes. Seafood options such as perch and scallops swim alongside aioli and pilaf, and pastas dress up veggies and proteins with bowties or tortellini pocket squares. Tender grilled or slow-cooked cuts of meat, including beef tenderloin and prime rib, incorporate robust ingredients including smoked gouda, garlic, and chipotle. The dining room sports high-gloss wooden tables, while the outdoor patio overlooks rolling acres of green hills, 100-year-old oak trees, and herds of golf balls that roam the 425-acre golf course.