Bay Harbor Links/Quarry Courses – Bay Harbor, Michgian
Before heading up to Northern Michigan for my golf road trip, people told me that Arcadia Bluffs and Bay Harbor would duke it out for best views and my favorite course in the area.
As you may know, Arcadia Bluffs ended up being one of my favorite courses in the country – but that in no way diminishes Bay Harbor and what it has to offer.
Definitely one of the higher end public resorts in Michigan, from the moment you walk in you feel like you’re at a first rate resort.
Bay Harbor features 27 holes of golf split into 3 nines: Links, Quarry, and Preserve.
The Links/Quarry combo is what is ranked on the Golf Digest 100 Greatest Public list and thus that’s what I played.
The views on the Links course are absolutely stunning, but I actually found the quarry course was the nine that was the most unique and the one that I enjoyed the most.
Literally built out of an old rock quarry, you often find yourself clearing rock canyons or hitting to greens surrounded by giant stone walls.
I could see critics of the course complaining that this 18 hole collection isn’t very “cohesive” – and to be honest it’s not. Both nines offer an excellent selection of interesting holes, however they don’t exactly flow very well together. That being said, it’s because of this that I think Bay Harbor is so unique.
Who wants to play the same golf hole over and over again? Bay Harbor leaves you wondering what’s next and excited to walk off the green and up to the next hole.
One thing worth noting is this is about as far from a walking course as you’re ever likely to see. Some of the green to tee transfers literally take a couple minutes in a cart, so if you’re looking for a nice walk down the coast, you may want to head back to Arcadia Bluffs which is a much more friendly walk.
For this recap I’m going to talk about my favorite holes on each nine.
The Links Nine
While it feels more like a modern course than a true links test, the Links Course gives you the best views of Lake Michigan.
We were a little late arriving from our previous round, and had time for about 3 balls each on the range before we were beckoned to the first tee. We were the first ones on the course, so all day it felt like we had the entire property to ourselves.
All distances from the Gold Tees that measure a modest 5,995 yards – which is what we played, as we were trying to recover from a couple of rough rounds.
Favorite Par 3: 127 yard, 4th hole
The first par 3 of the round is definitely my favorite. You hit down from an elevated tee to a green that’s right on the rocky shores of Lake Michigan – feeling somewhat akin to a par 3 at Whistling Straits.
While it’s not an overly difficult hole (17th handicap), double check your club selection and don’t go left or long. For an easy hole, my buddy Dan shot a 10, so if you aren’t feeling on top of your game, considering bailing out to the right.
Favorite Par 4: 346 yard 3rd Hole
This is one of my favorite holes in Michigan, because it forces you to make a big choice right off the tee.
There’s a split fairway, and if you want the best angle at the green you’ll go for the lower fairway that forces you to clear a chasm to a smaller fairway. However the safe option is to go straight out which will force you to go over a deep bunker on your approach.
Oh, and the killer views don’t hurt either.
Favorite Par 5: 482 yard 7th hole
An excellent par 5 that plays with cliff all down the right hand side of the hole. It tempts you to go for it in two after a well struck drive with a considerable landing area short of the green (even if it doesn’t look like it).
The fairway is relatively wide, so as long as you play smart the cliff shouldn’t be too big of a deal. That is, as long as you can keep your gawking in check after getting back out to the ocean view after two holes in the trees.
The Quarry Nine
As I mentioned, the Quarry nine has some of the most unique holes on the property, not only for the topography and views, but for the hole design as well.
Favorite Par 3: 139 yard 8th Hole
Another downhill par 3 on the banks of the lake, this one is a little bit tricker due to the forced carry over a small pond directly in front of the green. It’s hard not to be impressed standing at the tee here – a great hole for the last one shotter on the course.
Favorite Par 4: 300 yard 6th hole
Apparently I like all of the easiest holes on this course, as it’s the 18th handicap for this combo.
That said, it’s a very fun short par 4 with a downhill tee shot that tempts you to go directly for the green from the forward tee boxes. Of course the smart play is to layup, but even then you won’t have the easiest approach ever, as you have to clear a swath of tall grass directly in front and to the right of the green.
Favorite Par 5: 441 yard 5th Hole
Wow going back and reviewing this course, it’s no wonder it was my best round of the road trip (85), we played it from the wimpiest tee boxes ever!
That said, it doesn’t matter where you tee from, this is a fun hole. You need to carry a lake off the tee to an open fairway and then decide if you’re going to try and go for it in two.
If you decide to go for it, you’ll have another pond right in front of the green that’s waiting to swallow up any errant balls.
I pured a 5 iron and thought for sure I was on in two. Nope missed by about two feet. Luckily I got up and down for a par, making for one of the more memorable holes of the round.
Other Cool Facts About Bay Harbor
Only 9 Hole Combo
Bay Harbor is the only resort on the Greatest 100 public list that is actually two nine hole courses, as opposed to a standard 18 hole course.
This is great for those of you who want to play 3 very different tracks, and think 36 holes is a little bit too much, but 18 just isn’t quite enough.
Top 500 Hotel
If you’re into luxury travel, look no further than this resort, as The Inn at Bay Harbor was voted on of Travel + Leisure’s Top 500 Hotels in the World for 2014. World class golf, world class accommodations, world class views. What more do you need?
The above sentence pretty much sums up my thoughts on Bay Harbor. There are few better places in the country to go spend a week golfing, and if you do head to Northern Michigan, make sure Bay Harbor is on your list – it’ll be one of the more unique rounds you play.
While I did prefer Arcadia, Dan liked Bay Harbor better – and this coming from a guy who had a 10 on the 4th hole hanging over his round the whole time 🙂
A Few More Photos