When one of the best architects in golf, Robert Trent Jones Sr., refers to a course as his crowning glory, you know it’s going to be special. The Masterpiece Course at Treetops absolutely is. It’s a beautiful course and a demanding test of golf, and it’s one that you will definitely want to add to your bucket list.
The Masterpiece Course has its own range, short game area, and putting green on the Treetops Resort grounds. All of these excellent facilities are shared with the Rick Smith Golf Academy. The range can easily accommodate a couple dozen golfers, and it’s tiered so that you can hit off a fresh surface every day. The view on the range is beautiful as well. The short game area is adequate with a pair of bunkers and medium-sized green. Two to four golfers could all work in this area without crowding each other. The putting green is outstanding: it’s near the first tee, it mirrors the conditions of the greens on the course, and it’s huge. Overall, the practice facility is very good for both working on your game or warming up for your round.
Amenities & Customer Service
Throughout Treetops, the customer service is excellent. It is always easy to find a resort employee, and they’re helpful without being smothering.
I’ll get into the amenities of the entire resort in an upcoming feature, but the course itself has ample “extras” without taking the focus off the golf. The clubhouse is well stocked with soft goods, and it has a handful of clubs in case you need an emergency replacement or upgrade. It’s also worth mentioning that the staff does an outstanding job keeping the pace of play brisk. I had the first tee time, so I was able to play quickly, but I observed many golfers coming off the course after noon boasting of sub 4-hour rounds.
The conditions of all the courses at Treetops are good, but the Masterpiece Course is clearly their pride and joy as things are just a little better all the way around. The greens are medium-firm, very smooth, and extremely consistent. The bunkers, which have all been recently renovated, are full of medium-grain sand and, again, extremely consistent. All of the other grass areas – tee boxes, fairways, and rough – are well maintained throughout the course.
Beauty & Scenery
The Masterpiece Course puts a wide variety of natural beauty on display throughout the round. The course weaves in and out of dense forests and works up and down over significant elevation. The two most unforgettable holes are #6 (above) and #8 (below). Hole 6 is a par 3 “that put Northern Michigan golf on the map” with it’s breathtaking view from the tee. Hole 8 is a par 4 that starts with a downhill tee shot through the woods, and then makes a 90° turn right towards a green surrounded by water and backed with a spectacular view.
There are a lot of beautiful courses out there, but most are one-trick ponies. The joy of playing the Masterpiece Course is that every hole is beautiful in a different way.
Course Design & Difficulty
There are so many things I want to say about this course that it’s difficult to know where to start, but I think the most standout characteristic is the challenge. The starter proudly informed me that the course record at the Masterpiece Course was several strokes higher than at the other Treetops courses, and it’s easy to see why. There is not a single shot on this course where you can mail it in. That’s not to say that every hole is diabolical, but each one gives you something to contend with: an elevation change, an uneven lie, or a spot you absolutely can’t hit to.
One thing that I noticed as I played my round was how important the set up of this course is to its difficulty and how much the course can change from day to day. When I played, most of the pins were accessible and forgiving, but it was easy to see that this course could be set up to push top tier players to the absolute limit. If you are lucky enough to play this course multiple times, I expect that you will see a totally different course from one day to the next as some holes become friendlier and others get downright evil.
Just as the course has a wide variety of visual elements, the Masterpiece also has great variety in the way the holes play. There are straight holes and doglegs, flat holes and dramatic elevations, short holes and ones that require mighty blasts. On average, the fairways are medium-to-large, but that doesn’t mean you can spray and pray: trees, bunkers, and pinched fairways will make erratic drivers suffer. Similarly, the greens are fairly large, but they have distinct tiers and some dramatic slopes that will force you to be precise with your iron play.
Overall, it’s clear why Robert Trent Jones regards this course as his crown jewel. It’s an absolute joy to play, and any fan of course design will be able to see a true master at the peak of his talents. There is not a single wasted bunker on this course, every slope, tree, and mound is perfectly positioned to challenge golfers and enhance their experience.
A round at the Masterpiece Course tops out around $110, but it can be significantly less depending on time of year or time of day. As with any resort course, the best deals are going to be had with “Stay and Play” packages.
At its top rate, I think the Masterpiece Course is a strong value, and it’s outstanding with any kind of discount. The green fee includes the cart and use of the practice range, and the concessions are reasonably priced as well.
Treetops Resort is not a resort with a golf course but a true golf destination, and the Masterpiece Course is the best that it has to offer. This course is consistently challenging, beautiful, and it offers endless variety. No matter where you’re coming from, playing this course will make it worth the trip.
Check out all our course photos below and the video we shot with our GoPro.