The Bay Harbor Golf Club boldly suggests on its website that its Links/Quarry combination is “the Pebble Beach of the Midwest.” It will take some intense arguments to sell that to well-travelled golfers, so the club does not mess around when bringing the “seaside” views into play.
Rather than wait until the fourth hole, as Pebble does, players will tee off alongside the Lake Michigan cliffs on the opening hole, and continue for three more before turning inland. The course will return to the water for its signature a hole, a par five that plays along the length of the coast.
The course identity takes a dramatic turn for the “heroic school” of golf course architecture during the back nine, where players will face forced carries and elevated tee shots in a former slate quarry, converted for golf. The Pebble Beach aspirations return at No. 17, however, as golfers will play a par three toward the lake and finish with one more finishing hole along the coast (admittedly a par four versus Pebble’s five). It never hurts to stay ambitious in one’s advertising!
Bay Harbor is the pinnacle course of the Boyne group and the Inn @ Bay Harbor is an amazing five star resort on the Bay of Lake Michigan. The course has 27 holes of good golf but the Links/Quarry is the 18 that gets national recognition. The Links starts you off right on the lake and is full of eye Candy the routing does a good job of keeping awesome views of the harbor and some of the clearest water you will see anywhere. The better golf holes come on the Quarry 9 and the views are awesome starting on the 3rd hole as you dive into ice Rand through the quarry with the lake in the backdrop . Overall much of what you expect from Arthur Hills good golf, forced carries but at Bay Harbor you are paying for the unique setting. It can get a little pricey in the summer with its affiliation to the Inn but the shoulder season or the Boyne packages can bring it down to a more reasonable rate. The course is deserving of it’s top 100 public ranking based on setting and quality of the golf.
Several years ago I was raving about Arcadia Bluffs to an associate who was from Michigan. He said if you loved Arcadia wait until you play Bay Harbor. Thus, my expectations were set pretty high.
I would categorize Bay Harbor as more of a resort course. It has 3 nines, Preserve, Links and Quarry. We will be reviewing the latter two. The Links start off with a good length par four dogleg right. There is a bunker on the inside elbow in the landing zone. Center is best to set up a long approach to a green with bunkers right and left. The 2nd is a long par 4 with a pleasant view from the tee box. There are two fairway bunkers left but the landing area is substantial. I liked the par 4 3rd. Split fairway, with a shorter approach from the left. For mortal players aim at the left fairway bunker which should give you a short iron in. It is downhill, so take one less club, but you will have to fly a BAB. For you stallions aim left of the fairway bunker and your drive should catch the downslope and have a wedge to the green. The relatively short par 3 4th is one of the prettiest and easiest the course. It does have a two-tiered green with the green falling off to the left. The 5th is one of the quirkiest holes I have ever played. An uphill sharp dog leg right. When I first got to the tee I thought we were hitting over GUR. Turns out it is a BA waste bunker on the inside elbow. Do not be intimidated by its size and aim at the middle of it. Much more aggressive than that and there is additional gunch to carry and the fairway narrows significantly. This should give you a wedge to an elevated green with a false front. The 6th is another dogleg right, with a more standard bunker on the inside elbow. A forgettable hole. The par 5 7th is a reachable par 5. Do not be deceived by what you think you see on the tee box. Yes, there is a cliff on the right, but there is plenty of room. As it is uphill, I would advocate playing it as a 3 shotter. For your second shot, going left will get you closer with a better angle, but you must carry moguls and rough. Conversely, if you choose to go right, you will have a smaller landing area. For your approach, you probably want to take an extra club to this elevated green. For the life of me I cannot understand how the 490 yard, from the tips, par 5 dogleg right is the number one handicap hole. A decent drive straight over the hazard will give you a green light to this green. The closer you are to the hazard right the shorter the approach. Real birdie oppty.
The Quarry starts off with another quirky hole, short dogleg right. DO NOT HIT DRIVER. Favor the left side, there is waste/gunch starting about 100 yards out from the green. The par 5 S shaped 12th is the first hole in the quarry itself. Off the tee aim at the green. For your 2nd shot aim left of the ravine, depending upon your tee shot, but probably 150 yards. Do not get greedy. This will set up a short iron approach to a two tiered green. If your approach is short you will probably roll down to the bottom of the hill. The 13th is a picturesque downhill par four. Favor the left side off the tee and on your approach as there is a pond right of the green. The 14th is a short par 5, reachable but your second shot will need to clear a water hazard to a wide green that is not very deep. There is much more room left off the tee than it appears. The 15th is a downhill dogleg right driveable par 4 that is all risk with some reward. If you don’t hit the green, you are looking at double bogey. Conversely, you could lay up and hit a flip wedge to the green. The 16th is a par four that leaks left. The carry looks much more intimidating than it is (less than 200 yards). Best line is right of the fairway pot-bunker. The 17th is a downhill par 3 with the lake behind it, but there is also a water hazard in front. Another pretty hole. For the finishing hole you may not want to hit driver. At about 150 yards out the fairway starts descending towards a creek that bisects the fairway. If you are like me, downhill lies are to be avoided. Bunker right to a narrow green.
Make no mistake about it, this is an eye candy course. Some beautiful holes, some interesting holes, some quirky holes and a couple of head scratchers.