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Michigan Masterstroke

Tom Weiskopf's newest northern Michigan design begs the question: If a tree falls at Forest Dunes, does it make a sound?Set amid eight square miles of the Huron National Forest, this 7,104-yard par seventy-two plays magnificently quiet, with each hole unto its own and little cart noise—this is a walker's paradise.

Sounds may be absent, but sights are not. "If I told you this was the Pine Valley of the Midwest, I know it'd be like telling you I'm married to Cindy Crawford," says Forest Dunes project director Tom Fous. He is not, and it is not, but neither is the comparison pure hyperbole. The Pine Valley-like sand scrapes and rugged growth emerged after the building crew was taken on inspirational field trips to craggy classics Sand Hills in Nebraska, Crystal Downs in Frankfort, Michigan, and Florida's Pine Barrens at World Woods.

"I'd put Forest Dunes in the top-three courses I've ever been involved with," Weiskopf told T&L Golf, "for its perfect contours and changes in direction and its beauty, with gorgeous deciduous hardwoods and pines contrasted with the natural sand dunes."

Perhaps most stimulating to both eye and pulse is the 302-yard penultimate hole over a lunarlike landscape. The risk of cutting off distance by daring the dunes is visible from the tee, but you know the firm fairways will reward a direct carry with a chance to run up onto the green. Other stars of the superb inward side include a vexing dual fairway and 10,000-square-foot crescent green at the par-four tenth and Weiskopf's own "Hell's Half Acre" 231-yard par-three sixteenth. A loop at Forest Dunes is like a zippy motorboat ride with only the sound of a spinnaker.
—Michael Patrick Shiels

Greens Fees: $80-$125. Tee Times: 866-386-3764 or visit forestdunesgolf.com.

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