Dunes Club - Michigan - USA

The Dunes Club,
10600 Marquette Drive,
New Buffalo,
Michigan (MI) 49117,

  • +1 616 469 5539

  • 2 miles NE of New Buffalo

  • Members Only

  • Dave Hettinga

  • Dick Nugent

  • None

The Dunes Club is located near the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan. The tiny, sandy 60-acre plot was reputably bought by Mike Keiser to stop other developers building on the site. Keiser – who made his fortune in recycled greeting cards – is also the man who founded Bandon Dunes in Oregon so the Dunes theme actually started here in Michigan, seven years before the burgeoning Beaver State resort opened for play.

Dubbed as the “Pine Valley of the Midwest” and “the best nine-hole course anywhere”, the Dunes Club is certainly one of the world’s finest nine-holers, designed by Chicago-based architect Dick Nugent in 1992. With Pine Valley-like waste areas, stunning tee to green conditioning and dramatic bunkering, the “walking only” Dunes Club is an American rarity.

The 513-yard 8th is rightly regarded as the best hole on the scorecard but, in truth, there is not a weak hole on a course where all the par fours are less than 400 yards in length. Such is the informality at the Dunes Club, there are no markers on any of the tee boxes so golfers are given the freedom of choosing the length of tee shot that best suits their own individual game.

In the book The Finest Nines by Anthony Pioppi, the author introduces the Dunes Club chapter thus:

“When the Dunes Club opened in 1990, not far from the shore of Lake Michigan, there was barely a ripple in the golf course architecture world even though what Dick Nugent designed was easily the best nine-hole layout built in the modern era.

“Back then, though, the owner of the course had not changed the world of golf. That would not occur until 1999, the year that Mike Keiser’s Bandon Dunes Golf Resort on the southern coast of Oregon with the David McLay Kidd design opened.

“As more eyes turned toward Bandon, The Dunes Club was finally recognized and given its due as one of the finest nine-hole golf courses in North America. The course remained relatively unchanged until 2016 when Jim Urbina made substantial modifications to the layout, especially on and around the greens.

“Urbina said his focus for the renovation was to add some variety to the greens, as four of the originals had two tiers with the back always the higher one. He also reworked fill pads and green surrounds, removing severe features so the ground game became more of an option.

“Fairway and approach mowing lines were altered, and Urbina called for the removal of trees and undergrowth to increase sunlight and airflow throughout the nine holes (and he) performed alterations on nearly every one of the holes.”

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Description: With Pine Valley-like waste areas, stunning tee to green conditioning and dramatic bunkering, the “walking only” Dunes Club is an American rarity, dubbed as “the best 9-hole course anywhere”. Rating: 5.7 out of 6 Reviews: 3

I drove past the entrance gate twice before having to stop and ask a guy watering his plants for directions. The clubhouse is a small little house with a closet for a pro-shop, a closet for a locker room and is usually managed by one gentleman who will also make your lunch. “Simplicity” is an understatement, but everything you need is there. Dunes Club - photo by FergalWouldn’t change a single thing about it! The primary focus of this club with 103 members is the spectacular 9 hole sand-based course. All of the par 3s could easily be in play at Pine Valley, and it’s terrific to have the option to play them from many different angles and distances. It’s very hard to pick “outstanding” holes as they are all so special. The 2nd and 6th holes are jaw-dropping par 3s, with the par 5 8th hole arguably being the signature 3 shot hole at the club. A tall tree up the left-hand side guards the entrance of the green and acts as a serious deterrent for those ambitious golfers going for it in two shots. For a 9 hole golf course, it’s easy to make it an 18 hole masterpiece given the many different tee boxes to play from. I will note that the 5th hole looks very different than all other holes because the approach shot and green area doesn’t have any iconic sand features, rather, there is a uninspiring pond in front of the putting surface. It’s very bland compared to all other holes and it’s like somebody pressed “Pause” on the remote control. It’s not a bad hole by itself, but it just doesn’t fit well with the collection of holes around it and definitely stands as being a bit strange. It’s almost like a different architect designed the 5th hole in isolation. Mike Keiser rescued the land that ‘The Dunes Club’ is built on from being developed for houses as his first effort at golf course design, and helped create an iconic set of holes hidden away from the world.
5 / 6
Dunes Club
July 27, 2015

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Great Track! forget that it's ONLY 9. There are very different tee boxes and hole locations for the afternoon 9!! Wonderful, understated clubhouse by chicago architect larry booth. As I imagine Pine valley would be. Nugent's best. Not to be missed. Even had a great time hanging out rolling dice with the boys during a rain delay!
6 / 6
Dunes Club
May 16, 2009

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First let me say that I am usually not a Nugent fan. This golf course however is an absolute gem. Having played some of Chicago's finest north shore private courses, I have to say the Dunes is as good and possibly better than the likes of Shore Acres, Skokie, Bevely and all the rest. The fact that it is only nine hole makes no difference.If you ever get the chance to play it dont miss it.
6 / 6
Dunes Club
February 10, 2009

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