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Laidback Nine: Elk Rapids Golf Club

Elk Rapid Golf Club

Tucked in between Elk Lake and Grand Traverse Bay in Northern Michigan, Elk Rapids GC, is slowly but surely becoming a nine-hole Mecca of the Midwest. Sometimes nine-holes is all you need, and Elk Rapids makes this case pretty hard to beat.

By: Matt Fernandez

The Loop

Elk Rapids plays as a traditional 'out-and-back' links routing making it extremely walkable. With multiple holes right on the water, it's easy to fall in love with this place. The layout is simple, yet intriguing, making it fun for golfers of all skill levels.

Doing Things Differently

A public 9-hole track with 250 Members and a massive waitlist? You'd be hard-pressed to find another course like that. It's a testament to the amazing team at Elk Rapids and what they have built by following their vision. No big marketing budget, no massive-backing. Just a slow built reputation over time by delivering golfers an exceptional experience.

Some places have the hype and reputation but fall short with experience. I would argue Elk Rapids is the exact opposite of this-- golfers are blown away after a loop at ERGC.

Details Always Matter

The Superintendent and groundscrew out at Elk Rapids pay attention to the details. They know it's the little things that take a course from good to great.

Old school wooden rakes, perfectly manicured bunkers, golden fescue and rollin' greens are the standard out here.

For a course that is packed from 8am-8pm almost every day, this place is immaculate.

Nine-Hole Mecca of the Midwest

I'm sure you've heard of other great nine-hole tracks out there: Sweetens Cove, The Dunes Club and Wawashkamo, to name a few. All of which are fantastic loops with incredible character. In my personal opinion, Elk Rapids is right up there in this mix. It's inviting, it's architecturally-intriguing, it's enjoyable, it's playable and most of all, it's PURE.  

More is not always better, and Elk Rapids is the perfect case study for that.

Favorite Hole?

There are no bad holes on the property, but my favorite hole? Hole 5. It's a Par 3, about 170 yards or so from the tips. No bunkers and the lake isn't in play (except for a shot way right). The protection comes from a false front, which sends any tee shot short, or right, bouncing back down the slope making for a tough up-and-down. The simple sophistication of the hole is the perfect example of how Elk Rapids plays.

Not Done Yet

Last year Elk Rapids built a new patio overlooking the course and lake. What's next? Like a find bottle of wine, this place just keeps getting better with time.

North Coast



Ken Anderson

Back in the 70’s, I grew up about a mile and a half from the course. My parents were members. I would ride my bike dragging my pull cart behind at 7am and play all day, all summer long. A ten year old pairing up with whomever would take me. Turns out it was mostly seniors. I played A LOT with members well into their 70’s and 80’s. So many great memories. I won my age flight in the Club Championship a few times and we played our High School matches there too. At 16 I got an opportunity to work at a resort course 10 miles away. I worked there for 9 years. All through college and several years after that. To try and make a long story a bit shorter. ERGC, introduced me to golf, created a passion for sport and led me to a wonderful 25 year career in the golf business. Imagine a small town kid, who grew up on ERGC, playing with and meeting people such as VP Dan Quayle, Stephen King, Wendy’s Dave Thomas and Neil Armstrong. Not a humble brag or name dropping, I just find it pretty cool what a little 9 hole course can do besides providing a lot of fun.

Richard Davis

I’ve played ERGC for over 60 years and seen it transform from a cow pasture to a true gem. One beautiful place to spend 2 hrs on the shores of Elk Lake.

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