Bay Harbor Golf Club
Located in Northern Michigan, Bay Harbor is relatively unknown in the golfing world. With an incredible piece of property perched above Little Traverse Bay (Lake Michigan), and nine holes sweeping through old Quarry mine, this place is beyond unique.
By: Matt Fernandez
Bay Harbor features 27-holes that weave through an old quarry mine, atop the bluffs above Lake Michigan and through wooded forests (Quarry/Links/Preserve). While I’ve never played the Preserve 9, I am a huge fan of the Links/Quarry routing.
The Links: High Above the Harbor
The Links 9 starts out HOT with the first hole located directly on the water, hundreds of feet above Lake Michigan. It’s definitely a wow factor from the opening tee shot and sets the tone for what’s to come. The next stretch of 5-6 holes weaves parallel to the water and offers absolutely spectacular views throughout. Views of Bay Harbor (the actual harbor), Lake Michigan, ski slopes and sand dunes in the distance makes for an idyllic scene.
About as unique a nine-hole stretch as you can get. The Quarry starts off through the woods (10 and 11) before reaching the Quarry mines. Your jaw drops as you first start to see the scale of the old Quarry mine. It looks like something out of an old Call of Duty map. The nine is routed through the mines, with views of Lake Michigan in the distance. While 10 and 11 might just be ‘okay’ holes, the rest all have something special about them.
The Quarry Homestretch
My favorite stretch has to be 15-18 (holes 6-9). You start out perched on top of the Quarry mines with a short Par 4. The hole is essentially surrounded by marshland, where any ball missing the fairways gets swallowed up for eternity. The 16th is a long, dogleg left Par 4 that has a forced carry over the mines- bite off as much as you can chew and take in the Lake Michigan view behind the green. The 17th is a long, downhill Par 3 with Lake Michigan as a panoramic view in the back— possibly the best view of any on the entire property. The 18th heads back towards the clubhouse and hugs the water, the perfect ending to a spectacular round.
The setting of Bay Harbor is truly special and hard to match. On a sunny day, it doesn’t get much better from an aesthetics perspective. But, I have to be completely honest here… The layout could be better. Now I get it to a certain extent: make it playable, offer wider fairways, etc.— but this isn’t my issue. My issue with Bay Harbor is it seems that the course was made 2nd priority on the food chain. The first? Real estate. There’s a number of holes on both the Quarry and Links that would be non-existent if real estate wasn’t priority and more thought was put into the course design. And hey, I get it, back when Bay Harbor was built, golf was a dying industry and real estate was BOOMIN’.
The views are spectacular— the layout is good, not great. In my opinion Bay Harbor has to potential to be the best course in the state, if and only if, the layout is re-designed and the overall vibe is elevated. There, someone had to say it.