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The Story of High Pointe

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 Sanctuary

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.

You can’t always control what happens with your art, and while we lost Doak’s first solo golf creation, at least the land is still giving back to the world in a different and equally meaningful way.

North Coast



Joshua Crawford

I was the superintendent at High Pointe when it closed in 2009. I had been there 4 seasons and was looking forward to the future there. Still my favorite course! Maybe it will come back..

Jake Austin

This was my favorite course near traverse. Played it a bunch. Would have played more but despite its great geography to town and amazing architecture it struggled to find play. It was empty. It was 53 because the resort was 63 but Grandview was 36, elmbrook was 25, the crown was 42, bay meadows was 20. My point is, there was a lot of, albeit arguably lesser quality golf, vastly more affordable golf nearby. I think a lot of people figured if they were spending the 50 might as well find the other 10 and play the resort which stayed packed. I guess my closing thought would be a direct address to the person we can all thank for this being a beer farm or a sunflower patch instead of a Doak gem at the corner of our town drawing traffic and travelers. Don as you fiddled with dinosaurs and distracted yourself with ping pong palaces did it ever occur to you to bypass some greed and drop the rate to 40/45 and watch 100-200 golfers go by daily? Now me we don’t have a high point. I just wanted to thank you dinosaur don for sinking this ship. Now that the golfs worth 100 don’t you feel like a fool. Tripped over a dollar to pick up a dime. I miss this course. Signed my first contract over 100k on the turn. Nice work don

Kevin Farrell

Very interesting. I had the chance to play it 1 time in late summer 1989. Actually played it with Tom Doak. It was just a random pairing. We moved from TVC soon thereafter.

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