With 18 major championship victories, it’s often been said that Jack Nicklaus transformed the game of golf. Therefore, it’s fitting that a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course is helping to serve as a catalyst for an ongoing community transformation just 100 miles east of Chicago in Benton Harbor/ St. Joseph, Michigan.
The Golf Club at Harbor Shores is a stunning 18-hole layout that has hosted the 2012, 2014 and 2016 Senior PGA Championships. It will also be hosting the 2018, 2020, 2022 & 2024 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.
Not many PGA major championships are awarded to courses before they open. However, not many courses have as much going for them as Harbor Shores.
Featuring 18 holes of spectacular elevation changes, woodland-bordered fairways and breath-taking views of Lake Michigan, this course has it all. How the team from Jack Nicklaus design and a local development consortium was able to turn what was basically 500 acres of neglected waterfront real estate into a blossoming golf course and community is mind-boggling.
The result of this incredible effort is a truly remarkable golf course and an even more impressive community revitalization that is providing work-force training, youth development as well as the beautification of public parks and beaches that border the property.
The Golf Club at Harbor Shores winds its way through flatlands, sandy dunes and densely wooded areas, making use of the native terrain while incorporating familiar Nicklaus design elements such as soft contours and good recovery areas.
A highlight of the outward nine is the foreboding 7th hole which is a dogleg right that plays its way into a stiff breeze coming off bordering Lake Michigan finishing with green hidden from view by a steep incline that is fronted by massively deep bunkering. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more unique and challenging hole in the Midwest.
The 539-yard par five 10th hole is a fun dogleg left from an elevated tee with a forest of trees on the right and thick rough on the left. With wind usually blowing from left to right, you’re forced to hit a drive along the left side of the fairway to avoid hazards in the landing area. It’s wise to consider the left side of the fairway for your approach shot towards this treacherous four-tiered green. Mr. Nicklaus created one of the most famous and largest greens here, covering 10,500 square feet.
It’s also the site of one of his most famous shots – at least in recent memory – when he sank an incredible, winding 100-foot putt during an exhibition match with Johnny Miller, Tom Watson and Arnold Palmer.
The 16th hole is a 422-yard par four with trouble just about everywhere. The tee shot is a carry over water, which continues down the left side of the fairway all the way to the green. However, the farther you hit to the right, the farther your approach shot will be. The kidney-shaped green is protected by a bunker on the right side and the water hazard on the left.
Right is better than left on this hole as is evidenced by the struggles of John Daly on the 16th hole during his opening round of the 77th Senior PGA Championship.
400 Klock Road
Benton Harbor, MI 49022