I played the Heather Course in June of 2006. While on this trip, we also played the Arthur Hills Golf Course (also at Boyne Highlands), Bay Harbor Golf Club, and traveling south, Arcadia Bluffs Golf Course.
We played the Heather Golf Course a couple of days after the 95th Annual Michigan Amateur Championships. This was good and bad.
The good: The golf course was in pristine condition, and the sand in the bunkers was “tour sand”, which actually had a crisper feel on contact, and allowed for better backspin. The bad: The rough hadn’t been cut, so anything out of the fairway was painful, to say the least. In the end, Kate wasn’t a particular fan of this course, but she did spend a lot of time in the rough, so it’s understandable.
There’s a reason why this course was selected to host a Michigan Amateur: It’s tough. The first few holes provide a good start to what’s going to be a challenging round. The first par 3 (4th hole) is all carry over water, and when we played, the pin was in the front. No need to ask; yes, I did get wet.
The 5th hole is a dogleg left, with a great view from the tee of Boyne Mountain. The green has a big bunker in front of it, making the approach very important.
The 9th hole is one of those that starts out easy enough, but finishes strong. Maybe it’s the raised green, or maybe it’s the multiple bunkers surrounding the green. Either way, it made for a great approach. (I actually parred this, but the glee was short-lived).
The 11th is a long, fairly straight hole (with lots of greenside bunkers, of course), but it provides a great view from the green looking back to the tee; you can see the mountain again!
The back starts out simple enough… except for the bunkers. I have to say that I had plenty of opportunity to test the “tour sand” on the Heather course; I was on the beach A LOT. Robert Trent Jones is famous for his greenside bunkering, and it’s obvious that this is one of his courses. If your sand game isn’t on, RUN AWAY!!
Other than the bunkers, the next few holes kind of flew by, until the 14th. We happened to see one of those things that you see in Northern Michigan from time to time; a fox casually following a cart path across the fairway. Kate isn’t accustomed to this, so she was really excited about it. That’s another benefit of golf: Seeing the wildlife in its natural environment.
The Heather course finishes with an approach over water, to a very thin green, and large bunkers behind it. Hitting back to the green from these bunkers is quite the gut shot; the water is very close, and definitely in play.
All in all it was a great round of golf, but the uncut rough made for a very difficult round. I’m sure that if the rough were normal, it would’ve been a much better experience.
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