Dunes Golf Club: Finding Your “Zen” Zone in Sleeping Bear Country
By Jim Barnes
The Dunes Golf Club is one of the hidden gems of northern Michigan golf. Lying just a few miles east of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore visitor center in Empire, the course is carved out of the deep woods and rolling hills that helped earn the Sleeping Bear park its title of “Most Beautiful Place in America.”
Although conveniently located on highway M-72, all but a few holes are isolated in the forest, and once you tee off you’re left with only the sounds of birds and wind in the trees.
The fairway grass is lush, the rough is fair, and the greens roll smoothly and hold approach shots well. It’s a wonderful place to get away from it all and find that relaxing “zen” zone of golf.
“Here at the Dunes we’re all about bringing accessible, reasonably priced golf to the area,” says Chris Wall, the course owner/operator. “We encourage families, kids, and players of all levels to come out and play and have a great time. We’ve always tried to keep it affordable, enjoyable and playable.”
Chris’s father Dean Wall designed and built the course, opening the first nine in 1983 and the back nine in 1991. His mother Joy ran the clubhouse until retiring in 2013. The whole operation has a welcoming, friendly feel that is perfect for a vacation outing or an after-work twilight round.
On a recent holiday weekend visit the course was filled with players of all ages, and when I asked some of the golfers for their impressions, the most prominent comments were “fun” and “beautiful.”
At 5,730 yards, there are some pretty short par 4’s and 5’s that can be real ego-boosters — but only if you keep it “down the middle.” The moderate length combined with tight fairways and dogleg angles make it a balanced and challenging experience.
Bottom line: this is really fun golf course to play.
Dunes Golf Club Photo Album
For a hole-by-hole tour of the Dunes Golf Club, visit the Dunes Golf Club Photo Album and click on the photos for a slide-show view of each hole.