Dunmaglas Golf Course is a unique golf course that one just doesn’t mind driving eighty miles, one way, to play. Simply put, great golf trumps poor gas prices. Dunmaglas is located somewhat off the beaten path in Charlevoix, Michigan. I highly recommend that if you are within 100 miles of Charlevoix, you make the time to play Dunmaglas. You will not be disappointed, at least with holes number 1 through 17. I’ll touch on hole number 18 later. The course is situated on an ideal piece of property that really lends itself quite well to the routing that was settled upon by it’s architect. The Dunmaglas website bills the course as “Northern Michigan’s masterpiece”.
I am not sure about that distinction, as Arcadia Bluffs, Bay Harbor and Blacklake can all stake a claim to that distinct title. For the money, Dunmaglas just may have them beat, dollar for dollar. In fact, for the $49 (after 2pm) they charge, you’ll be hard pressed for a nicer round of golf anywhere in the Midwest, or quite possibly the United States. However, one must not confuse Dunmaglas with a resort-styled golf course, it has it’s own distinct flavor without anything pretentious.
This will continue to be the case until they figure out a way to install home sites here at Dunmaglas. According to their website, they are in the process of selling home sites along the course. Most likely towards the end of the front nine where holes 7 and 8 drop downward and into a huge meadow of wildflowers and tall grasses painted across small, rolling hillsides.
My advice to you is, play Dunmaglas before any homes spring up and really enjoy the pristine golfing experience that it is, with the exception of hole number 18. Many of the holes are quite scenic, offer a variety of shot opportunities and fantastic vistas from both the tee and the fairway. This course has a few tight holes, the tree lined fairways on the wooded holes will surely swallow up errant tee shots. Fairway woods are the smart play off the tee for many of the tighter, tree lines holes at Dunmaglas.
On many of these holes the groundscape has been cleared well into the first fifteen to twenty feet of the woods, saving many a stroke or two. There are quite a few holes that offer excellent reward for a well struck, and well-placed tee shot. Avoid the fairway tree on number 4 and a purely struck and well-aimed fairway wood will leave you a sand wedge into an elevated and narrow green. The first hole is an excellent example of this. Hit driver here from this elevated tee box and you’ll be pulling a short iron out of your bag. You will not want to walk this course unless you have obtained sherpa status, many hills, and a few long distances between the greens and the tee boxes.
One nice touch here was that the only cart paths you’ll encounter are in between the greens and the tee boxes. It really looks much nicer without so much asphalt on the holes, especially beautiful holes such as these. Take my advice and use a cart. Although several miles away from the shores of Lake Michigan, on a clear day Lake Michigan can be seen from Dunmaglas in a few select, well elevated spots. The view from hole number 15 is excellent.
Many feet below the tee box is a gentle dog leg right that begs for you to bash a driver over the corner. Look over the tree line and you’ll see lake Charlevoix on the distant horizon. The tee box at fifteen provides simply a beautiful wooded and unrivaled view. Be sure and pack your snacks and drinks in your cart at Dunmaglas, you’ll make the turn with nary a clubhouse or snack shack in sight. The clubhouse staff should mention this to customers when they check in. They would surely sell more food and drink. In fact, I didn’t see a cart girl all day here either.
And finally number 18. Ah yes, the enigmatic finishing hole, number 18. From a design standpoint the hole is a longish par 4, straight away with a small rocky hillside to the left and woods to the right. It is nothing all that interesting compared to the rest of the holes here at Dunmaglas. The hole finishes with a long shot over a green guarded by a marshy, wetlands area right in front. You see, they built two structures of condos, uncompleted (they look as if they are falling apart as well) and vacant right up against the 18th green. I am perplexed as to what they were actually trying to accomplish here, surely not the majestic view one gets when playing Mid Pines Golf Course in North Carolina. I have played Mid Pines and I am not so sure that same view can be duplicated anywhere else. The stay and play condo units really detract from the course and make a poor golf hole, even poorer. They could have placed those condos anywhere in the woods along the 18th and it would have been a softer impacting alternative. Sometimes, just being a great golf course is enough, why try and be a hotel as well? In fact, I didn’t even take a picture of the 18th green or 18th hole because of the spoiled view.
For those curious types, you can see a picture of number 18 on their website. However, don’t allow this finishing hole to spoil your day here. I surely didn’t. Dunmaglas is almost as pure a golfing experience as you’re likely to find in Michigan, or anywhere else in the USA for that matter. It’s that good.
For more information about Dunmaglas, check out their website here.