5 Best Public Golf Courses In Michigan

Michigan is home to some of the most beautiful and challenging public golf courses in the country.

If you're wondering which ones are the best, here are the top five: Arcadia Bluffs, Forest Dunes, Greywalls, Bay Harbor, and Eagle Eye.

Keep reading for a more detailed explanation of what makes each of these courses a must-play destination.

Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club

Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club, located in the picturesque village of Arcadia, is frequently hailed as the premier public golf course in Michigan.

Nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan, this course offers a unique combination of stunning natural beauty and challenging gameplay.

Location and Setting

Arcadia is a small, charming village located on the western coast of Michigan.

The golf club is set on bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan, providing breathtaking views that enhance the overall golfing experience.

The proximity to the lake not only offers stunning scenery but also influences the weather conditions, adding an extra layer of challenge with the wind coming off the water.

Course Design and Layout

Designed by Warren Henderson and Rick Smith, Arcadia Bluffs is a masterpiece of golf course architecture.

The links-style layout is reminiscent of traditional Scottish courses, featuring wide fairways, deep bunkers, and undulating greens.

This design encourages strategic play and offers a variety of shot-making opportunities.

Each hole is thoughtfully crafted to provide a unique challenge, ensuring that no two rounds at Arcadia Bluffs are ever the same.

Scenic Views

One of the most captivating aspects of Arcadia Bluffs is the stunning views of Lake Michigan visible from almost every point on the course.

The elevation changes and open layout allow for panoramic vistas that can be both awe-inspiring and distracting.

Golfers often find themselves pausing to take in the natural beauty, from the rolling waves of the lake to the lush, green fairways framed by native grasses and wildflowers.

Clubhouse and Facilities

The clubhouse at Arcadia Bluffs is highly acclaimed for its classic design and top-notch amenities.

It offers a welcoming atmosphere with luxurious facilities that include a fine dining restaurant, a cozy bar, and a well-stocked pro shop.

The outdoor patio provides a perfect spot to relax after a round, offering sweeping views of the course and Lake Michigan.

Additionally, the practice facilities, including a driving range and putting green, are meticulously maintained and provide an excellent space for golfers to hone their skills.

Why Play Here

Arcadia Bluffs stands out as the top public golf course in Michigan for several reasons.

First, the unique links-style design by Henderson and Smith offers a challenging yet rewarding golfing experience.

The combination of strategic layout and natural elements creates a course that is both beautiful and demanding.

Second, the stunning views of Lake Michigan from almost every hole add a breathtaking visual component that enhances the overall experience.

Finally, the exceptional clubhouse and facilities provide everything a golfer could need for a memorable day on the course.

Forest Dunes Golf Club

Nestled in the heart of Roscommon, Michigan, Forest Dunes Golf Club is a unique golfing destination that offers two distinct and highly praised courses.

This club provides an unparalleled experience with its blend of traditional and innovative course designs, set against a backdrop of natural beauty.

Location and Setting

Roscommon is a quaint village located in Northern Michigan, known for its serene environment and lush landscapes.

Forest Dunes Golf Club is situated in this tranquil setting, surrounded by the Huron National Forest.

The area is characterized by its rich greenery, clear blue skies, and a sense of peaceful seclusion, making it an ideal spot for a day of golf.

The natural surroundings contribute to the club's charm, offering golfers a picturesque and serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Course Design and Layout

Forest Dunes Golf Club boasts two exceptional courses: the original Forest Dunes course and The Loop.

The Forest Dunes course, designed by Tom Weiskopf, is a traditional layout that combines elements of parkland and links-style golf.

It features wide fairways, strategic bunkering, and fast, undulating greens.

This course is designed to challenge golfers of all skill levels, offering a variety of shot options and requiring thoughtful strategy.

The Loop, designed by Tom Doak, is a revolutionary reversible course.

This means that golfers can play it in two directions – clockwise one day and counterclockwise the next.

This innovative design provides a completely different experience each time you play, effectively offering two courses in one.

The Loop's layout emphasizes strategic play, with its wide fairways, native grasses, and carefully placed bunkers.

Unique Features

Forest Dunes is renowned for its rugged native dunes and scruffy sand areas, which add to the course's aesthetic and challenge.

The Loop's reversible layout is a standout feature, offering a unique golfing experience that few other courses in the world can provide.

This innovative design not only adds variety but also ensures that golfers never have the same round twice, keeping the experience fresh and exciting.

Playing Experience

Playing at Forest Dunes offers a distinct experience on each course.

The Forest Dunes course provides a traditional yet challenging round, with its mix of parkland and links-style elements.

Golfers can expect to navigate wide fairways, avoid strategically placed bunkers, and manage fast greens that demand precision and skill.

In contrast, The Loop offers a dynamic and ever-changing experience.

Depending on the direction played, golfers face different angles, hazards, and strategies.

This variability tests a golfer's adaptability and creativity, making each round on The Loop a unique adventure.

The rugged dunes and natural sand areas enhance the course's difficulty and beauty, providing a true test of golfing prowess.

Why Play Here

Forest Dunes Golf Club is a must-visit destination for several reasons.

The combination of the traditional Forest Dunes course and the innovative reversible layout of The Loop offers unparalleled variety and excitement.

Golfers can enjoy the challenge and beauty of two distinct courses in one location.

The natural surroundings of Roscommon add to the club's appeal, providing a peaceful and picturesque setting for a day of golf.

Additionally, the club's commitment to maintaining high-quality conditions ensures that every round is played on pristine fairways and greens.

Greywalls at Marquette Golf Club

Greywalls at Marquette Golf Club, located in the scenic city of Marquette, Michigan, is a golf course that combines dramatic landscapes with challenging play.

Known for its stunning elevation changes and rugged terrain, Greywalls offers a unique golfing experience that is both visually spectacular and demanding.

Location and Setting

Marquette, situated on the southern shore of Lake Superior, is known for its striking natural beauty and rugged landscape.

The city is surrounded by dense forests, rocky outcrops, and the vast expanse of the lake, creating a dramatic and picturesque setting.

Greywalls is nestled within this environment, providing golfers with a sense of isolation and immersion in nature.

The course’s location on the edge of the lake means that weather conditions can vary, adding another layer of challenge to the game.

Course Design and Layout

Designed by Mike DeVries, Greywalls is renowned for its bold design and unique layout.

The course capitalizes on the natural terrain, featuring significant elevation changes, rocky ridges, and undulating fairways.

DeVries' design philosophy emphasizes the natural contours of the land, resulting in a course that feels organic and in harmony with its surroundings.

Each hole is carefully crafted to take advantage of the landscape, offering a variety of challenges and shot options.

The layout is such that it requires thoughtful strategy and precise execution, appealing to golfers who enjoy a test of skill.

Scenic Views

One of the most remarkable aspects of Greywalls is its breathtaking scenic views.

The course offers panoramic vistas of Lake Superior, with its deep blue waters contrasting against the rocky shoreline and lush greenery.

These views can be both inspiring and distracting, as golfers navigate the course.

The elevated tees and greens provide spectacular vantage points, allowing players to fully appreciate the natural beauty of the area.

On a clear day, the views stretch for miles, offering a truly unforgettable golfing experience.

Challenge and Visual Appeal

Greywalls is celebrated for its challenging play and stunning visual appeal.

The elevation changes and rugged terrain create a course that demands accuracy and strategic thinking.

Golfers must contend with blind shots, uneven lies, and carefully placed hazards.

The rocky outcrops and natural sand areas add to the course’s difficulty, requiring precision and careful planning.

Despite the challenges, the course's beauty makes every round enjoyable.

The blend of natural features and thoughtful design ensures that Greywalls is both a test of golfing ability and a feast for the eyes.

Why Play Here

Greywalls at Marquette Golf Club is a standout choice for several reasons.

First, the course’s dramatic landscape and bold design provide a unique and memorable golfing experience.

Mike DeVries’ use of the natural terrain ensures that each hole offers a distinct challenge, making the course engaging and exciting to play.

Second, the panoramic views of Lake Superior and the surrounding landscape add an awe-inspiring visual component that enhances the overall experience.

Lastly, Greywalls is known for its excellent maintenance and high-quality conditions, ensuring that golfers can enjoy the course at its best.

Bay Harbor Golf Club

Bay Harbor Golf Club, located along the picturesque shores of Lake Michigan in Bay Harbor, offers a golfing experience that seamlessly blends coastal beauty with challenging and varied terrain.

This club is renowned for its stunning views and thoughtfully designed courses that attract golfers from all over.

Location and Setting

Bay Harbor is a charming resort community situated on the northwest coast of Michigan.

Known for its upscale ambiance and breathtaking coastal scenery, Bay Harbor provides the perfect backdrop for a world-class golf course.

The area is characterized by its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush landscapes, creating a serene and luxurious environment.

The golf club takes full advantage of this setting, offering a tranquil and visually stunning location for a round of golf.

Course Design and Layout

Arthur Hills, a respected name in golf course design, crafted the courses at Bay Harbor Golf Club with a keen eye for both challenge and beauty.

The club features 27 holes that can be played in three different combinations, but the most notable is the Links/Quarry course.

The Links course is reminiscent of traditional Scottish links courses, with wide fairways, rolling hills, and strategically placed bunkers.

In contrast, the Quarry course winds through an old limestone quarry, providing a unique and rugged landscape that demands precision and skill.

Hills’ design ensures that each hole is distinct and memorable, with a variety of challenges that keep golfers engaged.

Scenic Beauty

One of the standout features of Bay Harbor Golf Club is its breathtaking scenic beauty.

Many of the holes on the Links course offer sweeping views of Lake Michigan, with the horizon stretching out over the water, creating a stunning visual experience.

The Quarry course, with its dramatic rock formations and rugged terrain, offers a stark but beautiful contrast to the coastal views.

Golfers will find themselves playing through lush fairways bordered by the lake on one side and rugged cliffs on the other, making every round a feast for the eyes.

Varied Terrain

The varied terrain at Bay Harbor significantly enhances the golfing experience.

The Links course, with its open, windswept fairways and rolling dunes, requires strategic play and careful club selection, especially when the lake winds are strong.

The Quarry course presents a different challenge with its narrow fairways, elevated tees, and the dramatic presence of the limestone quarry.

This combination of coastal and rugged landscapes ensures that golfers face a diverse array of challenges, keeping the game exciting and dynamic.

Why Play Here

Bay Harbor Golf Club stands out among Michigan’s golf courses for several compelling reasons.

First, the unique combination of the Links and Quarry courses offers a varied and challenging golfing experience that is hard to find elsewhere.

Arthur Hills’ thoughtful design maximizes the natural beauty and terrain of the area, providing a course that is both aesthetically pleasing and strategically demanding.

Second, the stunning views of Lake Michigan and the dramatic quarry landscapes make for a visually spectacular round of golf.

Finally, the club’s location in the luxurious and serene setting of Bay Harbor adds to the overall experience, offering golfers a chance to relax and enjoy the finer aspects of coastal Michigan.

Eagle Eye Golf Club

Eagle Eye Golf Club, situated in Bath near Lansing, Michigan, is a highly regarded course known for its challenging layout and meticulous maintenance.

It offers a top-tier golfing experience with its strategic design and famous replica holes.

Location and Setting

Bath is a small town located just a short drive from Lansing, Michigan’s capital.

The area is characterized by its rolling landscapes and tranquil environment, providing an ideal setting for a golf course.

Eagle Eye Golf Club takes full advantage of this serene location, offering a peaceful and picturesque backdrop for golfers.

The club’s proximity to Lansing also makes it easily accessible for both local and visiting golfers, combining convenience with a high-quality golfing experience.

Course Design and Layout

Eagle Eye’s course design is both strategic and challenging, crafted to test golfers of all skill levels.

The layout is known for its variety, featuring long par fives, tricky par threes, and challenging par fours.

Each hole is designed to require thoughtful strategy and precise shot-making, ensuring that players must use a full range of skills and clubs.

The course is also famous for its replica holes, which include recreations of some of the most iconic holes from around the world.

These replicas add an element of familiarity and excitement for golfers who relish the opportunity to play versions of legendary holes.

Notable Features

One of the standout features of Eagle Eye Golf Club is the replica of the famous island green 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass.

This par-three hole requires a precise shot over water to a small, well-protected green, providing a thrilling and nerve-wracking challenge for golfers.

The island green is not only a test of skill but also a highlight of the course that many golfers look forward to.

Other notable features include the course’s strategic bunkering, water hazards, and undulating greens, all designed to challenge and excite players.

Maintenance and Conditions

Eagle Eye is widely praised for its impeccable maintenance and high-quality conditions.

The fairways are lush and well-manicured, providing excellent lies for golfers.

The greens are fast, true, and meticulously maintained, ensuring a consistent putting surface.

The bunkers and hazards are also well-kept, adding to the overall quality of the course.

The club’s commitment to maintaining high standards ensures that every round at Eagle Eye is played on pristine conditions, enhancing the overall golfing experience.

Why Play Here

There are several reasons why Eagle Eye Golf Club is a must-play course for golf enthusiasts.

The strategic design and challenging layout offer a test for golfers of all levels, ensuring an engaging and rewarding round.

The inclusion of famous replica holes, particularly the island green 17th, adds a unique and exciting element to the course.

Additionally, the club’s high standards of maintenance guarantee excellent playing conditions, making every visit enjoyable.

The peaceful setting in Bath, combined with the convenience of being near Lansing, further enhances the appeal of Eagle Eye.

Tips for Golfing in Michigan

Golfing in Michigan offers a unique and rewarding experience, thanks to the state's diverse landscapes and seasonal changes.

Here are some essential tips to ensure you make the most of your golfing trips in Michigan.

Best Times to Play

Michigan's golfing season typically runs from late spring through early fall, with the best times to play being from May to October.

During these months, the weather is generally mild and pleasant, perfect for a day on the course.

Summer months, especially June through August, offer the most reliable weather, with long daylight hours allowing for extended play.

Early fall, particularly September and early October, is also a great time to golf, as the foliage begins to change, providing a stunning backdrop and comfortable temperatures.

Travel and Accommodation

When planning a golfing trip to Michigan, consider staying close to the courses to maximize your time on the greens.

Many top courses, such as Arcadia Bluffs and Bay Harbor, offer on-site lodging options or nearby resorts. For example:

  • Arcadia Bluffs: The Bluffs Lodge and The Cottages provide luxurious accommodations right on the property, allowing easy access to the course.
  • Bay Harbor Golf Club: The Inn at Bay Harbor is a popular choice, offering a range of amenities and beautiful views of Lake Michigan.

If you’re visiting multiple courses, consider staying in central locations like Traverse City or Petoskey, which provide convenient access to several top courses and offer a variety of dining and entertainment options.

Booking Tee Times

Securing tee times at popular courses can be challenging, especially during peak seasons.

Here are some tips to help you book your rounds:

  • Book Early: Reserve your tee times as far in advance as possible. Many top courses allow bookings months ahead, so plan accordingly.
  • Flexible Scheduling: Be flexible with your dates and times. Early morning or late afternoon tee times may be easier to secure.
  • Membership Perks: If you’re an avid golfer, consider memberships or loyalty programs that offer priority booking and discounted rates.

What to Bring

Michigan's weather can be unpredictable, so it's important to come prepared.

Here are some essential items to pack:

  • Layered Clothing: Wear layers to adjust to changing temperatures throughout the day. A light jacket or sweater is ideal for early mornings and cooler afternoons.
  • Rain Gear: Pack a waterproof jacket and pants in case of unexpected showers. A good quality umbrella can also be useful.
  • Sun Protection: Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun, especially during summer months.
  • Comfortable Footwear: Golf shoes with good traction are essential, especially if you’re playing on courses with varied terrain.
  • Golfing Essentials: Don’t forget your clubs, balls, tees, and any other personal golfing gear. A rangefinder or GPS device can be helpful on unfamiliar courses.


Michigan offers a variety of top-notch public golf courses, each providing a unique and memorable experience.

From the stunning views at Arcadia Bluffs to the challenging layout of Eagle Eye, there's something for every golfer.

Plan your visit, book early, and prepare for changing weather to make the most of your golfing adventures in this beautiful state.