Bay Harbor golf course in part of the BOYNE Golf collection of ten courses spanning three separate resorts in the northern area of lower Michigan.
Bay Harbor is an upscale master planned residential community in the city of Petoskey sheltered on the south shore of Little Traverse Bay on Lake Michigan. Southern vacationers discovered this idyllic area decades earlier. With boating, hiking, cycling, horseback riding, golfing and quality restaurant/bars it includes the venerable Inn at Bay Harbor, an iconic old style hotel.
Although there are multiple impressive accommodations in the area, the crown jewel is The Inn at Bay Harbor. They design this large hotel to resemble the grand old hotels of the early 2oth century with stark white siding, expansive balconies and a signature red metal roof. Hotel rooms, suites and cottages are available. Golf Digest’s 2019 “The 75 Best Golf Resorts” puts The Inn at Bay Harbor at #55 in the nation.
The clubhouse provides magnificent views of Lake Michigan, rivaling those of another iconic Lake Michigan golf course. See my profile of Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club. We loved the large pro shop and took advantage of the cozy restaurant and bar.
Bay Harbor Golf Course
Three nine-hold routings comprise the twenty-seven hole Bay Harbor Golf Course designed by Arthur Hills and Stephen Kircher. The Links, Quarry, and Preserve are very different courses that combine into three unique eighteen-hole experiences – dunes, cliffs and a quarry. All three courses have some views of the large bay. Teeing areas, fairways and greens are Bentgrass throughout. We know the course as the Pebble Beach of the Midwest. While the three courses are starkly different, the conditioning and quality of the course is consistent.
While the landing areas are generous, multiple blind tee shots over crests make it difficult to identify the best target line and to gauge the size of the specific fairway. With the correct line, finding the fairway is the easy part. The challenge at Bay Harbor Golf course is usually in the approach shot. The greens have multiple target areas and finding the correct location can be the key to scoring. Par 5’s typically require full carry because of barrancas or other hazard areas in front.
To make it easier to to find the first tee of each nine, they’ve painted Blue, Red and Yellow lines on the cart paths. Our foursome played the Links/Quarry routing which is the highest ranked eighteen holes by Golf Magazine at No. 5 in the state of Michigan. By following the correct color we didn’t get lost.
The first course completed at Bay Harbor Golf club, the Links opened for play in 1996. The Links course evokes a Scottish links feeling while incorporating the beauty of Lake Michigan. Accented by towering bluffs and windblown dunes, The Links 9 shows Arthur Hills design at its finest, combining the course’s unique topography with the native environment to achieve golf’s greatest promise as both a sport – and a lifestyle. Most of the holes have excellent views of the Lake and gorgeous stately homes.
The second course completed traverses a thick hardwood forest where wildlife are seen. The architects carved the course from natural rolling terrain with particularly lush fairways and greens. Winding it’s way through the forest and native wetlands, the tall thick grass and countless wildflowers accent this routing. Mounding is common around the fairways and greens. It finishes with majestic Par 3 on Lake Michigan. The members favorite it’s a secluded and peaceful nine.
The last course completed used a massive shale quarry to form the foundation of this dramatic nine. Five holes weave around the former quarry (Holes 3-7). Huge gorges and stone cliffs combine with a waterfall and multiple quarry ponds creating an interesting layout. Towering stone cliffs with elevated teeing areas engender unique views. Holes 7-9 have stunning Lake Michigan views. Others have elevations and tall rock walls framing greens and fairways. It’s the most photographed nine holes at Bay Harbor. A warm stone clubhouse overlooks the shoreline and the ninth green of The Quarry course.
Golf Hole Highlights
Hole 5 – 332 yards par 4. A massive waste bunker envelopes 75% of the fairway requiring a tee shot to a blind landing area. It’s a remarkable sight from the tee.
Hole 7 – 490 yard par 5. A picturesque par 5 along Lake Michigan. No greenside bunkers give the green light to go for it in two, if the views don’t distract.
Hole 5 – 468 yard par 5. A tee shot over water to a generous fairway. Bite off as much as you dare to set up the second shot. A large pond fronts the green causing a layup for all but the most accomplished players.
Hole 8 – 172 yard par 3. A rock-walled pond fronts the green with scenic Lake Michigan in the background captivates the moment. Wind makes club selection difficult.
Hole 4 – 542 yard par 5. A three bunker complex bisect the center of the fairway. Dual fairways give options for the tee shot – going right is narrower, but it’s shorter to the layup area. The green is fronted by a large pond. With a careful layup it’s a three shot hole.
Bay Harbor is not a typical easy resort course. Each nine will challenge the player in different ways. Good players will find very different parts of their game tested. Rarely do you find a golf course with such varied and unique nine-hole designs. Bring your camera as the photo opportunities are everywhere. With three different routings, play all three. After Links/Quarry, two of our group went on The Preserve. We’re glad we did.
Explore other Midwest golf course profiles from Quintessential Golf Magazine.