The Bluffs at Arcadia Bluffs

After playing The South Course, we checked in to the Lodge and made a 6:45pm reservation for dinner at the restaurant. We sat outside on the patio to eat, which was hot in the direct sun, but worth it for the views and the atmosphere of the place. At 7pm, the bagpiper came out and played for 20 minutes. Then at 8pm (yes, we were still eating), he came out and played until sunset, which was about 40 minutes. It was spectacular.

I was drinkng Coconut Coffee Rubenesque made by Starving Artist Brewing Company, which is one of the best beers I’ve ever had. I got Pork Belly for a starter, Chilean Sea Bass for dinner, and a warm chocolate chip cookie with coffee ice cream and fudge for dessert. Amazing meal!

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In the morning we fueled up on the breakfast buffet, hit some balls on the range, and tried a few shots out of the practice pot bunker. It was quickly decided that we should do everything possible to stay out of the bunkers on the course. After hitting some putts on the practice green I could tell right away the green was much faster than over at the South, even with it being wet from overnight watering.

The Bluffs, which opened in 1999 has been on my Michigan golf bucket list for a long time. After nearly 20 years it is still ranked #13 in Golf Digest’s list of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses and #3 in their list of Best Golf Courses in Michigan. That says a lot about the course.

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The carts have the nice GPS screens, but we still wanted a yardage book, which cost $6. I don’t understand why they don’t throw these in your cart like the South course, especially when you’re paying almost $200 a round.

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The course is absolutely incredible. There is nothing I can say or show that would give you the feelings you get as you drive around the course and experience the view with each hole. It really takes your breath away.

The course starts with a par five and three of the first five holes are par fives. As a long hitter I really liked that and it gets you in to your round. The front nine also has three par threes, making par still come out to 36 for the side. I started out bogey-par-birdie before 3-putting three of the next four holes. Did I mention the greens are fast? I settled in with the putter after that only making one more 3-putt. This is the type of course where I have to play a lot of target golf to score well because I don’t have the game where I can just rip a driver on every hole. Thankfully I love target golf and was playing well this day. I hit 8 fairways (with a few others just rolling into the rough) and 8 greens in regulation. Shot 41-42 with 18-16 putts and wasn’t in a single bunker!

My favorite holes were probably 11, 12, and 13, which are all along Lake Michigan. I was surprised at how little the wind affected us. We had to adjust a lot more the day before when we played the South Course. This place is really something you have to see for yourself. It seemed like every time we turned a corner or come up over a hill we were in awe of the view. The course layout was fun, challenging, and had a good mix of directions and elevation changes. I don’t remember ever feeling like something was a gimmick.

We’re already talking about going back next summer.

The South Course at Arcadia Bluffs

I’ve wanted to play at Arcadia Bluffs for years and this summer was finally the time. When looking at the course, Jere and I noticed The South Course was opening August 1st, so we decided to stay the night on the property and play both courses. Golf Digest did an early review of the new course.

We arrived a couple of hours early, but our room wasn’t ready yet, so we ran out for a quick lunch. The driving range isn’t open yet at the South, so we drove over to the Bluffs to hit some balls and then drove over to the course, which is about a mile down the road. As we drove we couldn’t see many people out on the course and the parking lot wasn’t anywhere near full. We checked in, had time to hit a few putts, and headed over to the first tee.

They actually give you yardage books, which is extremely rare. Even when you’re paying over $100 to play the courses usually make you buy the yardage book.

With the limited time we had on the putting green, I was impressed with how firm, fast, and true it ran. With the course not even being open for three weeks yet, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

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We were only a twosome, so we got paired up with an older couple. They were walking and each paid to have a caddie. They were nice folks, but they obviously play courses like this all the time and enjoy a much higher cost of living than us. Having six people in our group was annoying at times, especially on the greens. There were a few times where we overheard a tip about the course or their caddies pointed something out to us as well, but I’d much rather just have a group of four on the course.

The tees, fairways, traditional rough, greens, and bunkers were all in excellent shape. You’d never know the course just opened. When you got off the rough into the heather, that stuff was all still extremely new. When it grows in, the course will play a lot different in a couple of years.

The course is extremely flat and runs fast. It’s a different style of golf, which is a fun challenge. I really liked the greens and my speed was great all day, except for the single 3-putt I had. I had a hell of a time in the bunkers though, and almost every green was heavily guarded by them. If your ball was near the edge by a bunker, it almost always rolled off and into the sand. Most of my bunker problems seemed to start on the par three 5th hole. I hit my first bunker shot past the hole, it kept rolling and went in the bunker behind the green, Then I did the same thing coming back and went back in the original bunker. Then I barely made it out of the green, it rolled back and thankfully got caught up in the sidewall. I ended up taking an 8 there! After that I think I got in my head and I had several bunker shots that I hit too much sand and didn’t get out.

In addition to the 8 I had three 7s, which killed my score. I shot 48-45 from the white tees, which play 6,380 yards. Overall we enjoyed the course and it was cool being some of the first people to ever play it since it was so new. I’m not sure I’d pay that kind of money ($100 since we were staying on Arcadia property) to play there again though. I’d much rather go back and play The Loop at Forrest Dunes.

Really glad we played The South Course first though, before playing The Bluffs on Sunday. It allowed us to judge the South on its own, which is a much different type of course.

 

Bagpiper at Arcadia Bluffs

What an incredible weekend at Arcadia Bluffs. I’ll have more to say and show about the courses, but here is a video to give you a taste of the sunset over Lake Michigan.

Pictures and videos can’t do this place justice though. Incredible.