Located in the City of Bridgman, Michigan sits Lost Dunes Golf Club, which was created from an old sand quarry. This private club is bisected by I-94 and buttressed by tall sand dunes, deep forest as well as two pit lakes. It’s located about 15 miles north of The Dunes Club, in New Buffalo and approximately 14 miles south of Harbor Shores Golf Club in Benton Harbor.
This location offers a truly gorgeous parcel of land that prominent golf course architect Tom Doak took full advantage of when he helped build the course in 1998. The 6,900-yard, par 71 layout features panoramic elevated tees, strategic hazards, massive, undulating greens and immaculate fairways.
The native sand base allowed Doak the opportunity to build putting surfaces that he described as “the wildest set of greens I’ve ever built”. That’s high praise from a man that has authored four courses ranked among the top 100 in the world according to Golf Magazine. These include Pacific Dunes in Oregon, Ballyneal in Colorado, Barnbougle Dunes in Tasmania and Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand. Doak also designed The Loop at Forest Dunes in Roscommon, Michigan which features a reversible 18 hole golf course.
The clubhouse at Lost Dunes is a fitting centerpiece for the facility, offering cathedral ceilings and expansive windows that provide scenic views of the course. The interior of the clubhouse is lined with sports memorabilia with an emphasis on Chicago teams and Notre Dame. The highlight of the main dining area is a fully certified banner celebrating The Chicago Blackhawks first Stanley Cup championship in 1934.
The first hole at Lost Dunes measures 380 yards from the black tees and plays to a par four. It’s a welcoming start that slowly introduces the individual elements of the course that will become familiar throughout the round including rolling fairways, thick rough, expansive, undulating greens and abundant sand features.
The second hole is a slight dogleg right par four with a green that is somewhat hidden on the left by the dunes. Architect Tom Doak provides the vista of a wide fairway from the tee, but also teases added distance if you can carry a complex of bunkers on the right side.
I chose the latter path and was easily swallowed up by the fairway bunker, forcing an abbreviated layup in advance of my approach shot. The left side of the fairway is probably the correct route for most mid to high level handicaps, but there’s a clear advantage for the big hitters. If you can clear the bunkers on the right, you’ve got a nice angle to a big green with multiple tiers.
The par three 3rd hole plays at 196 yards from the black tees down to 165 from the gold. The tee boxes are elevated, as is the green, which offers a false front that will reject weak approach shots.
The first par five at Lost Dunes is the 525 yard 4th hole that is a pretty dramatic dogleg left. From a slightly raised tee box you’re faced with a series of four bunkers on the right side of the fairway.
If you’ve got it in your bag, a power draw is optimal off the tee as the fairway expands once you get past the trees on the left side. The Lost Dunes are definitely found on this hole, that includes a huge dune towards the green and multiple bunkers throughout the area near the putting surface. The green complex is once again huge and offers a pretty significant back to front slope, especially if the pin is towards the front of the green.
The par three fifth hole can play 243 yards from the black tee and 170 from the gold. Your vantage from the tee is only a sliver of green, that’s guarded by front bunkers.
From what you can see on the tee, the fear here is to come up short and be faced with a downhill bunker shot. With that in mind, I chose an extra club and found myself with a lengthy putt from the back of the green.
Being able to trust your distance on this hole is imperative. However, there is a slight mound short and to the left of the green that could help funnel an unsure shot back towards the green. But depending on the location of the pin on this expansive putting surface, I’m not sure that type of caution would be warranted.
One of my favorite holes on the front nine is the beautiful par four 6th hole that plays slightly uphill. Trees and out of bounds guard the left side of the fairway, but there’s a lot room to be aggressive with your tee ball here.
The closer your approach, the better, as there’s a severe slope on the green from right to left.
The front of green is protected by a bunker and there’s a significant spine that pretty much bisects the green, making it imperative to find the level in which the pin is located.
The 448-yard 7th hole is another par four that plays slightly uphill. Step one is to avoid a large collection of bunkers on the right by aiming for the fairway expanse on the left.
Step two is to avoid the deep bunkers protecting both the left and right side of the dance floor. The right side trap is particularly deep and menacing. Once you’re on the carpet, there are a number of peaks and valleys to negotiate throughout this enormous surface.
Completion of the 7th is followed by a long ride under the expressway to the 8th tee, which offers an angled tee shot over water. Avoid the water hazard and thick fescue on the left, but you also have to protect against going through the fairway into the trees and thick rough on the right side.
The 603-yard 8th is the number one handicap hole on the course for a reason. It’s a behemoth that requires a big drive and a long, accurate second shot towards a narrowing landing area.
The putting surface is slightly raised and sloped from back to front. There’s a massive bunker eager to swallow errant approach shots along the left side of the green.
The final hole on the front nine is also the third par three on the outward half. The tee boxes on the 9th hole range from 128 from the gold and 188 from the black, with the majority of the shot being a carry over water.
The green is located directly in front of the clubhouse and is extremely wide and slightly elevated with deep bunkers protecting the front middle and back left of the surface. The carpet itself slopes from left to right, giving the course superintendent a never-ending supply of options for pin placements.
The inward nine begins with a 500-yard par five that is potentially reachable in two. However, to get there, you’ll have to carry the large lake on your approach that is a part of many of the holes on the back nine.
Architect Tom Doak strategically placed a series a fairway bunkers to collect aggressive shots on the right side of the fairway. Despite that hazard, there’s plenty of room to land your tee ball and then determine the distance for a layup, which most will.
The fairway runs diagonally along the water, which provides a unique risk/reward decision for your layup shot depending how far you choose to follow the fairway. On a golf course with enormous greens, the 10th is certainly among the largest, offering multiple tiers that are primarily sloped from back to front. This is a hole that can play dramatically different depending on the pin placement.
The 428-yard par four 11th hole plays alongside the water on the left and a series of bunkers off the fairway on the right. However, there’s plenty of room to be aggressive on this tee shot.
It’s a good idea to get as much as you can with the big stick as the approach to this elevated green is no bargain. The front right face of the hill on which putting surface is perched is lined with a massive sand trap.
My ball found that trap on my approach, presenting me with a awkward stance in which the ball was significantly above my feet. I surprised myself with a bunker shot that found the bottom tier of the green.
Unfortunately, the pin was 30+ feet away on the top tier as the green is horizontally bisected, offering three different levels. A cool feature of this surface is the collar that borders the dance floor. It’s perfectly designed to assist golfers whose aggressive approach shots carried a bit too far. The welcoming fringe gives them the option to putt from multiple locations.
A winding climb up the fill follows the completion of the 11th hole to the 12th tee box. There a tee boxes on the ground level, but you don’t want to miss the view from the upper tees on 12.
This is a bombers paradise with a gorgeous view of the fairway, which offers only a collection of fairway bunkers on the right side for protection. On this day, those bunkers were protection in name only as they were easily carried with help from a supportive breeze on our backs.
Another group of sand traps cling to the left side of the fairway as you approach the green, which is also elevated. A long, narrow trap diagonally frames the green, which offers a similar contoured ridge line, sloping primarily from front to back.
The tee box on the par three 13th hole is directly across the lake from the target green, which sits at the base of a hill. It’s the start of a picturesque series of holes that run across and adjacent to the lake.
The 13th hole plays 170 yards from the black tees and 140 from the gold. A unique feature of this green complex is a run off area to the front left that’s not totally view able, depending on the tee box that you’re playing from. The result is a landing surface that’s actually a bit larger than what is presented on your approach.
Similar to the 12th, be sure to take a trip up the hill to the highest points on the 14th tee for one of the most glorious panoramas on this remarkably beautiful back nine. With the lake on the right, there’s plenty of room in the fairway on the left of this shorter par four.
The green is placed on the far right edge, skirting the water. However, there’s ample room for your approach. There’s also a slight collection area on the left side of the green, which required an awkward chip to a slightly elevated pin on this day.
Follow the bridge across the lake to the 15th tee box, which presents a fun risk/reward decision on your tee shot. The fairway runs diagonally in relation to the tee, so you’ll need to identify the proper target to carry the lake to find the fairway.
If you’re aggressive, it’s certainly possible to find the green on your second shot. However, the water and the sand dunes that border the water can collect lackluster tee shots, turning this fun par five into a challenging par six.
The 15th green is framed by scenic sand dunes on the left and a thick tree line long right. The green is also elevated, placing an emphasis on pulling the proper club on your approach.
The fifth and final par three at Lost Dunes is the 16th hole, which also requires a carry across the lake. There’s a large chipping area on the left of this long, narrow putting surface.
The hole can play as long as 180 yards and as short as 135 from a series a elevated tee boxes. Wind can also be a big factor in judging the distance.
After completing the lake holes, the final two holes at Lost Dunes take place in a wooded enclave that is a distinct departure from the previous experience. Thick trees lines both sides of the fairway on the par four 17th hole.
There’s plenty of room on the left, so don’t be afraid to hit a strong draw off the tee. A collection of bunkers appear short right of the green, but shouldn’t be of concern for most solidly hit shots. The expansive green complex is raised slightly, but it’s primarily the length of this hole that make it the #2 handicap.
The final hole at Lost Dunes runs adjacent to the 9th, finishing near the beautiful club house. The hole is framed by a line of trees on the left and more tree on the right. However, there’s ample room off the tee.
With multiple tiers, the 18th green is like many others on the course that can provide a completely different experience depending on the location of the pin. There’s a slight crest on the right side of the green, which is also protected short by a sizable bunker. It’s an appropriately fun finishing hole on truly enjoyable golf course.