Kingsley Golf Club---Kingsley, MI
Rankings as of 5/25/2012---
-23rd best U.S. Modern Course (Golfweek)
I was drawn to play Kingsley for a variety of reasons.
1) It makes my “Controversial Course" list as Golfweek is the only one of the Big 3 rating entities that regards
Kingsley as Top 100 material. When this happens, I love to swing by and see for myself who is right.
2) People whose opinion I value regard the course VERY highly
3) It is a Destination Club with onsite lodging and fishing, just outside Traverse City, MI. These are, generally, the
courses I enjoy the most.
4) And I believe the golf course architect, Mike DeVries, is one of the very best modern day designers.
So, putting that all together…I had to make the trip to Kingsley.
I suppose to wrap everything up in a nutshell, I can see why Kingsley makes the controversial list. I find the course
to be darn near ideal. But in some spots it is extreme and not your stereotypical U.S. parkland golf experience.
Perhaps this is off-putting to some and playing it only once (like some golf course raters do) is nowhere near
enough experience with the course to “get” it. The course is complicated with bold features, but subtle nuances.
In fact, it could be a course that a golf student could study and study and learn from.
Kingsley’s first hole starts the round off with a bang. It is a dual fairway par 5 with some NASTY centerline bunkers
and some severe elevation changes. And the hole culminates on a world class, wildly undulating, punchbowl-
From there the course goes par 3, par 4, 4, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3 to wrap up the front nine. During this journey of holes, the
elevations changes continue, as do the great green sites, stunning bunkering, and rolling fairways. Frankly, no
matter what you like in golf…you will get it in this stretch of holes. You want a challenge? You’ll get it. Namely, the
par 4 3rd hole, the par 4 6th hole, the par 5 7th hole, and the killer par 4 9th hole. You will also get great greens
on every hole and some stunning bunkering and quirk.
Now, the quirk associated with the 9th hole might be off putting to some. And this is one of the holes that might
have driven the course to make my “Controversial Course” list. You see it is a par 3 that has two different sets of
tee boxes, which play in from completely different directions. One direction the hole is 130-ish, the other 160-ish.
However, from either angle the green is shallow and very severe with steep fall offs and dramatic bunkers. In the
four rounds I’ve played at Kingsley to date, I’ve made as low as a 3 and as high as a 6. And let me tell you, seeing
people make worse than double bogey is common place. Hence, the angst regarding the hole. If you are a card-
and-pencil golfer, this hole might blow up your card. But Kingsley is a Match Play course, at least in my mind. To
heck with your score. In fact, you might make double and WIN the hole. Either way, it is just one hole…and you
move to the next one in the match.
The transition from 9 to 10 runs you back up to the club house. Holes 10-12 have a bit of a change in vibe as Mr.
DeVries runs you down into a part of the property that feels like a meadow. It is a wonderful shift in vibe from the
open, undulating, link-ish feel of the front nine.
Then he offers up a truly great hole with the short par 4 13th. The tees are arranged so that you might be offered
a 230 yard hole or a 292 yard hole. But either way, you will have to travel over the gorge to a world-class crazy
green with multiple shelves and one big bowl. I called this green a Double Plateau (a MacDonald/Raynor template
hole) on steroids.
14 and 15 are meadow-ish feeling holes again, par 5 and 4 respectivley. And then he hits you with a truly killer par
3. This is his version of the classic Redan hole and true to Kingsley fashion, it isn’t tame.
But the 16th might look tame compared to the par 5 17th hole that features on heck of a severe drop off smack
dab in the middle of the fairway. Here is a photo of the green from where your drive might end up…
And one from where your 2nd shot might end up. Wow!!
The course winds down with a great par 4 with another wonderful green complex.
Kingsley is my style of course. I really loved playing there, spending time with the staff, and I hope to be back
soon. I supposed I’d say those people who enjoy adventure style golf will LOVE Kingsley. If you think this is the
type of golf you enjoy, head on up. You’ll have a blast!!