Tom Doak's First Solo Course
The Story & Sorrows of High Pointe Golf Club
By: Noah Jurik
Northern Michigan has seen its share of golf courses come and go, but the late High Pointe Golf Club seems to draw the most interest from those who never got a chance to see it and mourning from those that did. Tom Doak’s first solo golf course design was once a minimalist paradise near Traverse City. It’s now a haven for whitetails, rabbits, songbirds, and Michigan hops.
Untouched Back 9
Walking the nearly-untouched back nine is a little painful, knowing what could have been if things workout out differently. Instead, there are odd little glimpses of the past hidden around the property; irrigation pumps, electric cart charging stations, and golf balls that have been waiting to be found since Tiger’s last U.S. Open win.
The faintest sounds ring across the abandoned fairways while blackbirds and warblers argue in the nearby state forest. The sun shines a spotlight on some of the long-forgotten features for those there to see it; an eerie peacefulness that’s hard to find elsewhere. It’s hard not to imagine the welcome interruption of a well-struck driver.
Connection to the Land
You can tell Mr. Doak has a connection to this piece of land. The whole place seems to bring back a flood of memories. He describes it as a Pacific Dunes without the ocean. The gentle tumble of the landscape is perfect for golf. It’s overgrown and scruffy, but you can still see its incredible undulations, albeit partially hidden by mother nature, reclaiming what we took from her.
He remembers nearly every detail from the construction project that finished in 1989 (pretty impressive). Every lost wrinkle in the ground seems to be clear as day. Father time and unrestrained growth couldn’t take away the enormous impact this project had..
From Course to Craft
The Michigan craft beer industry has been helped to the forefront by farms like MI Local Hops, which sits on what was formerly High Pointe’s front nine. The towering rows of hops march into the horizon, but it’s hard not to picture them disappearing to give way to the bygone fairways.