My Quest to Check Off Golf's Best Experiences
The Golf Bucket List
#12, Par 4, 431 Yards
View From the Clubhouse
#10, Par 4, 481 Yards
#11, Par 5, 633 yards
#3, Par 5, 530 yards
There are a few courses on this list that I played before deciding upon my goal of playing the Top 100 courses. Unfortunately, Arcadia Bluffs is one of them. What that means, among other things, is that I really didn't make much of an effort to document the course with a camera. Luckily, in this case, I did take a few pictures, but only of a handful of holes. Living in Michigan, I'll be back at some point and will be sure to do a better job of capturing all the beauty that exists at this golf course.
Arcadia first opened in 1999 and sits on the opposite side of Lake Michigan (and further north) from Whistling Straits. It doesn't have quite as much lake frontage as the Straits course, but Lake Michigan can still be seen from every hole on the property. The course was sculpted by native Michigander and noted teacher Rick Smith, along with Warren Henderson, and is supposed to resemble a seaside links in Ireland. Is it a links course? Nah, but it's still gorgeous and darned fun! The course has tons of visual intimidation and requires good control of your golf ball. The tee-to-green game is quite fair and doesn't have quite as many forced carries as you might expect (though they're definitely there on some holes). Straying off your intended line is not wise, as you'll be faced with tall grass, uneven lies in ruts, sod-walled bunkers, and in many cases lost balls. However, if you can stay on the short grass, this course is plenty scoreable....if you can putt. The greens are a bit gimmicky for my taste with some green complexes that lack only a windmill and clown's mouth. With that said, this is still a really fun course and one that must be played.
Compared to Whistling Straits, and most of the public courses on the Top 100 list, Arcadia Bluffs is relatively economical. This is probably due to how remote the course is. It's roughly a one-hour drive from the nearest decent-sized airport, which is in Traverse City, Michigan. From a golfer's perspective, the nearest landmark would be Crystal Downs, which is about 30 minutes north of Arcadia. While Crystal Downs is super private, Arcadia Bluffs can be played for $180 during peak season, and $110 during twilight. It's the twilight deal that is a steal, especially since the sun sets so late in Michigan during the summer, being on the western edge of the Eastern time zone. During late June and early July, it's very reasonable to play up until about 10:00 PM on a clear day.
Speaking of the sun setting, there is probably no better place to watch a sunset in the state of Michigan than at Arcadia Bluffs. The club has a bagpiper playing usually around dusk, and from the clubhouse, it's a wide open view due west toward Lake Michigan, where the sun will set over the water...just awesome.
I'm not going to do a hole-by-hole review of Arcadia Bluffs since I don't have hole-by-hole pictures, but, for the time being, I'll point you to the club's website that will be useful if that's what you're looking for. The few pictures I do have are below, with yardages quoted from the Tips:
#28, Top 100 Courses You Can Play (2012)
#1, Best Public Golf Courses in Michigan (2012)
#13, America's 100 Greatest Public Courses (2013-2014)
#65, America's 100 Greatest Courses (2015-2016)
#3, Best in the State of Michigan (2013-2014)