The course at Brookside Golf and Grill guides golf balls past babbling brooks and over rolling terrain as players traverse the 6,100-yard course. A stream treacherously intercepts the golfer's path on three holes, and a large pond lies in wait to the right of the green on the 13th hole, waiting furtively for wayward bounces and impulsive swan dives. After a round, players can head inside at the newly redesigned clubhouse, where a full grill restores lost calories with burgers and burritos and assuages lost chances at birdies with beer and wine.
Course at a Glance:
Oak and maple trees nod their shaggy heads in the breeze over The Emerald Golf Course. The gentle pop of clubs against golf balls floats from four sets of tees, set among easy hillocks crisscrossed by a stream. Past tufts of wildflowers, carts hum along, carrying players to a driving range or a pro shop brimming with clubs and golf apparel like RoboCop’s bag when he’s going on vacation. The clubhouse spills the aromas of burgers crowned with guacamole, tapenade, and sautéed jalapeños.
####Course at a Glance * 18-hole, par-72 course * Length of 6,619 yards from the back tees * Four sets of tees
Tall pines and hardwoods stand watch around Candlestone Golf & Resort, their reflections dappling the surface of marshy ponds and water traps that resemble pools where woodland sprites might splash. The par-72, Jerry Matthews-designed course has a timeless quality, though in fact it was completely renovated in 2008, setting new electric golf carts buzzing past sand traps redesigned to meet USGA standards. The resort’s two dozen guest rooms were recently remodeled, too, with flat-screen TVs, new mattresses, and a fresh supply of hardworking counting-sheep filling each serene, wood-accented space. Overlooking the golf course, the Water Tower Grille serves wine, beer, dessert cocktails, and crowd-pleasing dinner fare such as chipotle-honey barbecue ribs, pecan-crusted walleye, and hand-tossed pizza on a spacious deck or beside a roaring fireplace. In 2009, The Grand Rapids Press praised the Grille’s “friendly service and good food,” such as the “tender and moist” pork chops.
Players send their golf balls around severe dogleg turns, past six water hazards, and between waylaying fairway bunkers as they test their skills on North Kent Golf Course’s 18-hole, par 70 course. Very few trees gather around the fairway edges, leaving mostly wide-open expanses into which golfers can pummel tee shots. The course shares acreage with a lighted, all-grass driving range, giving a close approximation of course conditions for lessons with PGA instructors and an area to test out experimental irons made out of oversize soup ladles.
Short game and putting skills will likely determine golfers' fate at Braeside Golf Club, an 18-hole golf course that bounds over mounds and through 6,638 yards of West Michigan countryside. The pro shop touts the course's par-threes as some of the most difficult in the area, and it's easy to tell why: from the tips, the shortest of the four holes stands at 164 yards, with the other three measure in at 196, 186, and 217 yards. At those distances, even the most accurate golfers can fail to hold the green, leaving a tricky chip and putt in order to get up-and-down for par. Easier scoring opportunities await at the course's par-fives, which long hitters and players with gravity-resistant golf balls can reach in two. With four tee options, the course presents approachable challenges for golfers across the handicap spectrum.
Alpine Golf Club’s course crosses over streams and scrambles up tree-covered hills, challenging golfers with small greens and unseen hazards. From the opening hole, shot selection is at a premium as stately trees flock to the edges of the fairway, which is bisected by a hazard designed to snare errant drives or Ill-advised putts from the tee. After consistently sneaking drives between pines, golfers face one of their greatest challenges on the16th hole, where overzealous approach shots dribble off the back of the green and into a babbling brook.
Brookside Golf & Grill's PGA professional Marty Carmichael takes golfers of all stripes under his wing and helps them improve through guided practice and a little help from video technology. As players unload strokes ranging from full-power pummels off the tee to knockdown wedge shots onto the green, Marty makes real-time adjustments to mechanics and offers his recommendations for strategic thinking. Meanwhile, a video recorder captures all the action, allowing the student to see his own bad-swing habits—something that is difficult to fully grasp during the backswing itself, when eyes are closed tight to keep eyeballs from falling out.