BLACK LAKE: A MICHIGAN MASTERPIECE
One of the Gaylord Golf Mecca’s ‘Must-Play’ Venues
Story by: Mike May
Photos by: Ed Stone
The Black Lake Golf Club (2800 Maxon Road, Onaway, Michigan; www.blacklakegolf.com; 989-733-4653), located in the northern Michigan community of Onaway, is a utopia for golfers. In simplistic terms, the Black Lake Golf Club is special, serene and secluded. Black Lake is so special, serene, and secluded that you can hear insects communicating in the woods, birds chirping to one another, and squirrels moving from tree to tree. The home page of the Black Lake Golf Club’s website gives the best description of this 18-hole, par-72 Michigan masterpiece: “An Incredible Experience Is Waiting!”
Black Lake, arguably one of Michigan’s best public-access golf courses, may well be one of golf course architect Rees Jones’ best creations.
When Jones started designing Black Lake, he dealt with wooded terrain, cranberry bogs, a few lakes, and a small sand quarry. When all was said and done, he had designed a refreshingly stunning golf course which had earned the right to be called a championship-caliber layout. In other words, Black Lake is the real deal.
“The holes were here, we just had to find them,” said Jones. “We strive for holes blending with the natural terrain. There is nothing artificial or contrived at Black Lake. We were trying to build an old-style course. You’ll notice we don’t have mounds or moguls. We just have sweeps and natural grades.”
Another big reason why Black Lake is so secluded is that there are no homes along the golf course. And, very few holes can be spotted from any given fairway.
Playing golf at the Black Lake Golf Club is a euphoric experience as it’s fair, fun, and forgiving. Simply put, playing the Black Lake Golf Club confirms why people play golf. And, courses like Black Lake keep them coming back for more.
|There is a certain amount of symmetry to Black Lake as the course opens and closes with a par five.
Actually, the Black Lake Golf Club is one of 20 area golf courses (totaling 351 holes) in the greater Gaylord, Michigan area that are part of the Gaylord Golf Mecca (www.gaylordgolfmecca.com; 800-345-8621). While the existence of Black Lake may attract you to northern Michigan, the presence of those 19 other golf courses on the Gaylord Golf Mecca represents another reason why you will make a return trip to northern Michigan.
Upon arrival and before you strike your opening tee shot, spend some time at Black Lake’s superb practice facilities: a double-sided driving range, four chipping and putting greens, and a number of practice bunkers.
There is a certain amount of symmetry to Black Lake as the course opens and closes with a par five, which means it’s quite possible to start and conclude your round with birdies, though the 18th hole does rank as the second most difficult hole on the course.
Throughout the round, there are three specific sections of the course which you must negotiate in order to avoid a high score. Firstly, the 3rd green is the most undulated putting surface on the course so three putts (or more) are quite possible if your approach finishes in the wrong part of the green. Secondly, the tee shot on the 6th must carry a deep, vegetation-filled ravine in order to reach the fairway. Thirdly, the tee shot on the medium-length par three 12th must carry a wetland area to reach the raised putting surface.
After golf, make a beeline to the Black Lake Grille where breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served, as well as a wide variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The outdoor patio is a great place to unwind, relax, and count your score.
The golf media is equally enthusiastic about Black Lake. For instance, in May 2012, Golf Digest ranked Black Lake at #44 in its list of “100 Greatest Public Courses in America.” Golf Digest also listed Black Lake at #9 on its list of “Best Value” from that Top 100 list. And, in 2014, Golf Week listed Black Lake as the 5th best golf course to play in Michigan.
Finally, there is another course to play while at Black Lake. It’s a nine-hole par three course which is called The Little Course. It’s a perfect venue for beginner golfers and anybody looking to fine tune their short game.
Finally, odd as it may seem, but the Black Lake Golf Club is owned by the United Auto Workers (UAW).
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