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Crystal Downs Claims Top Spot on Michigan's Best Private Courses List

Last Updated: July, 8 2024
Crystal Downs Claims Top Spot on Michigan's Best Private Courses List

The exclusive members-only clubs that call Michigan home are renowned across the golf world. Each year, Golfweek magazine works to determine which of these hidden gems rises above the rest. For 2024, one course stood out as the state's finest - Crystal Downs in Frankfort.


Designed by legendary architects Alister MacKenzie and Perry Maxwell along Lake Michigan's shoreline, Crystal Downs has entertained players since 1932 with its undulating greens and tricky winds. According to reviewers, navigating its tight layout amid the natural fescue rough makes for an unforgettable test of skill.



Coming in a close second was Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills. Known best for hosting U.S. Opens and other major championships over the years, Oakland Hills' South Course went through extensive restoration work recently overseen by Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner. Now renamed simply "The Monster," early feedback suggests the course has regained its place among global golf's elite following the changes.


L.C. Lambrecht/Oakland Hills


Rounding out the top five privately-held tracks in the Mitten were The Kingsley Club, The Dunes Club, and Franklin Hills. Other notables in Golfweek's ranking of the top 15 included Northville's Meadowbrook Country Club, Bridgman's Lost Dunes Golf Links, and Lake Orion's Indianwood Golf & Country Club.


As always, Golfweek's list was determined through ratings from hundreds of recreational players weighing criteria like course strategy, conditioning and how memorable each hole might be. The high placements are a testament to both Michigan's historic designs and commitment to providing world-class golf experiences.


Read more: UCLA Women's Golf Coach Named Golfweek Coach of the Year in Impressive First Season


Top 15 best private golf courses in Michigan for 2024


1. Crystal Downs:


Lake Michigan Views: Crystal Downs enjoys a spectacular setting along the shores of Lake Michigan. Players are treated to breathtaking views of the big lake, while also contending with its winds.


Challenging Layout: Legendary architects MacKenzie and Maxwell designed a fascinating test of golf amid Crystal Downs' rolling terrain. Thick rough and cunningly contoured greens present a stern examination of one's game over the undulating landscape.


2. Oakland Hills (South):


Revitalization: Undergoing restoration in 2021, the South Course at Oakland Hills has been reimagined by acclaimed architects Hanse and Wagner. Their changes have given new life to this storied layout.


Prestigious Venue: Few clubs can compare to Oakland Hills' legacy and history as a venue for significant championships over the years. Its appeal is increased by carrying on the custom of holding the major events in the game..


3. Kingsley Club:


Natural Surroundings: Golfers at Kingsley are treated to pastoral scenery peppered with hills, forests and pleasing views throughout the round.


Strategic Test: Bunkers, water hazards and slick putting surfaces positioned to challenge strategic thinking make Kingsley a rewarding test from the first tee to the last.


4. The Bear:


Mountain Majesty: Braving steep elevation swings and slopes atop the mountain landscape adds drama to each shot at The Bear.


Green Complexities: Subtle undulations and slopes leave little room for error when aiming for The Bear's small and wrinkled putting surfaces. Target golf is a must.


5. The Homestead:


Historic Pedigree: As a club since 1925, The Homestead's venerable tradition is part of the rich fabric of Michigan golf.


Wise Design: Far-sighted bunker, water and undulating green positioning have stood the test of time, continually assessing players' strategic nous.


6. Meadowbrook, Northville


T7. Lost Dunes, Bridgman


T7. Indianwood (Old), Lake Orion


9. Orchard Lake, Orchard Lake


10. Barton Hills, Ann Arbor


11. Wuskowhan Player’s Club, West Olive


12. Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Hills


13. Country Club of Detroit, Grosse Pointe Farms


14. Point O’Woods, Benton Harbor


15. True North, Harbor Springs





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Michael is an avid golfer himself, having played competitively in college. After graduating, he pursued a career in golf course management and travel writing. He has played and reviewed hundreds of golf courses globally, and is considered an expert on golf course architecture, playing conditions, and the best golf destinations for travelers. His articles provide golfers with valuable insights to plan their next golf vacation.

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