50 Words or Less
Located in Saugatuck, Michigan, Ravines Golf Club offers a challenging scenic layout, tricky visuals, and more doglegs than a pack of hounds.
An easy 30 minute drive from downtown Grand Rapids, Ravines Golf Club is a great destination for golf in the southwest corner of Michigan. An Arnold Palmer signature design, the course offers a scenic natural escape to rest your soul and challenge your mind. As the name suggests, Ravines is about elevation changes with stunning chasms.
A short cart ride from the club house is an enormous practice area. At the driving range, there’s no shortage of fresh grass to hit from with two wide, deep tiers available for hitting stations. The range itself is immense and able to accommodate even the mightiest of drives.
Not to be outdone, the putting green is also mammoth – no need to worry about sharing holes. At the far end of the photo above is the ample short game practice area complete with a host of bunkers.
Ravines offers four sets of tees ranging from 4,700 yards to just over 7,000 yards. Well maintained and flat, it was easy to find just the right spot to tee it up. I used “challenge your mind” in the intro partly because of some intimidating tee shots that turn out to be visual teasers.
On the second hole for example, the giant bunker up the right side appears to be unavoidable, but it’s closer than it appears with plenty of fairway beside it. The ninth hole gave my brain the most trouble. Looking at the GPS screen in the cart, there’s clearly water all along the left side of the hole, but my eyes saw nothing of the sort. Driving to where my ball went out of sight, the water IS there – luckily it stayed dry. Typing this review I can hear Mr. Palmer chuckling.
On the back nine, 14 tee box (above) affronts a ravine that looks ready to eat golf balls like candy, but once again any reasonable drive bounds into the fairway as you breathe a sigh of relief. Overall, landing areas are generous and even errant tee shots can often be found and put back in play.
There aren’t many straight holes at Ravines and many greens seemed to be tucked into the edges of the trees or well protected with mounds and bunkers. As such, the approach shots require height and carry. Playing from the proper tees, you’re looking at a mid-iron where accuracy is rewarded.
Visually, the approaches at Ravines are some of the best I’ve experienced. There was a steady wind blowing the day I played, and the tall cottonwoods created a peaceful rustle as I settled over the approach shots.
Greens & Surrounds
Both the greens and the well-manicured surrounds were in excellent condition. For the typical golfer, having the option to putt the ball from off the green is a welcome attribute.
On the green, gentle contours kept putts interesting with a speed that picked up a bit as the morning dew departed.
The par 3 third hole is a favorite because of its sheer beauty. A low marshy area fronts the tees, sculpted bunkers loom large on the right, while huge conifers stand like sentinels behind the green.
Another stunner, both naturally and mentally, is the finishing par 5 18th. A large marsh area cuts diagonally across the entire fairway making the tee shot a test of both distance and direction. Safely in the fairway, tall reeds in the marsh obscure the landing area, making the second a blind shot. A relatively short hole, I was left with a simple wedge to a well protected green. This is a hole that leaves you wanting to go back and play it again, but I satisfied that urge with a cold beer in the chairs above looking back down the hole.
Speaking of beers, Arnie’s Cottage Grill has many local craft brews on tap plus an innovative menu of fresh food. Pictured above is one of the numerous boardwalks that add character and highlight how the course got its name – Ravines. This was my first time playing golf in Michigan, and the temperature alone was as noteworthy as the beautiful scenery. Coming from Florida, playing golf and not sweating in mid-June is a treat. The Ravines Golf Club is a challenging yet fun layout that leaves you wanting to go around again.