50 Words or Less
The Heather golf course at Boyne Highlands is classic Robert Trent Jones, demanding precise iron play and a healthy appetite for risk.
The Heather Golf Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones in 1966, was the first golf course at Boyne. Boyne is now home to nine other courses, but The Heather has stood the test of time. It’s a three-time host of the Michigan Amateur Championship but remains enjoyable for the resort golfer as well.
Unlike the other three courses at Boyne Highlands, The Heather has its own clubhouse across the street from the resort. This makes it very convenient for resort guests, but it also means golfers don’t have access to the same quality practice facilities. There is a range that’s a short cart ride from the club house, but it plays directly up a ski slope which makes it hard to get accurate distances.
Players will have a better opportunity to warm up their putting. There’s a sizable, steeply pitched putting green in front of the clubhouse and a larger, flatter green directly across from the first tee.
Amenities & Customer Service
Throughout the Boyne Highlands resort, amenities are nearly limitless, so I’ll limit this to what is at the course itself. Overlooking the 18th green, there’s a patio grill that serves sandwiches and snacks while you watch other golfers negotiate the finishing hole. The clubhouse has a stocked pro shop where you can buy your next putter or stock up on souvenirs.
One unique amenity at The Heather is the Boyne Golf app. It combines an on-course GPS with flyover views of every hole. It’s free and incredibly useful for the first timer.
Beauty & Scenery
The Heather course is a brilliant example of how much variety can exist within a Midwest parkland golf course. Most holes have subtle elevation and are tree lined, but RTJ sprinkles in enough water hazards to keep things interesting. He also uses openings in the tree line to create dramatic views of the ski runs. The constant presence of doglegs keeps the golfer looking around the corner excitedly to see what’s next.
Off the tee, the most consistent feature of The Heather are the doglegs. There are very few straight holes, so shot shape and distance need to be factored into every drive. Depending on your length and the tees you play, you could be taking quite a few fairway woods or irons off the tee.
The fairways are a little narrower than average and hemmed in by fairly thick tree lines, so accuracy is a must. You have a wide range of options when it comes to tee boxes – from 7,100 yards to 4,800 – so pick a distance where you can be confident in your ability to find fairways.
Your approach shots at The Heather will need to be accurate because there is plenty of trouble around the greens. The best way to enhance your chances for greens in reg is to play out of the fairway. The rough is just long enough to create weird lies and hurt your shot control.
The greens are average in size and well-protected with bunkers. Some holes have many little bunkers, others give you one large one, but nearly all of them use sand as a defense. Consider your sand ability when choosing a target because there are some cases where the sand may be better than the alternatives.
Greens & Surrounds
Much of the variety at The Heather comes from the greens. Though they are all roughly the same size, the shapes and slopes present a wide variety of challenges. Some greens are reasonably flat, others – like the one above – have a strong, planar tilt (toward a water hazard). If you have the vision or experience to know them, you should be taking the slopes into consideration on your approach.
Around the green, where there is not sand, there is rough. There’s about a yard of fringe, then thick grass. Just like off the fairway, this rough is thick enough to create some odd lies and challenge your short game. Depending on your abilities in the sand, you may prefer the predictability of the bunkers.
Whether you’re a high level player looking to challenge a master architect or a weekend player seeking an enjoyable vacation round, The Heather at Boyne Highlands delivers. Choose the right set of tees for your length and enjoy a beautiful walk through northern Michigan.