In recent years, Michigan has become a serious golfing destination and the St Ives Resort in Stanwood is doing its bit to help the cause. There are two courses at St Ives and the first to be laid out was simply named “St Ives” but it was the second course, designed by Jim Engh, which grabbed world attention when it opened for play in 2002.
“With its wooded vegetation and wetland preserves, Tullymore has a character unique to the world of golf,” wrote Engh. Tullymore is routed through woods and water with the Shinglebolt Creek meandering into play on a few holes. This is a vast site of some 800 acres but the Tullymore playing surfaces are polished to perfection. The closing hole is considered to be one the greatest and most photogenic finishing holes in Michigan.
I had high expectations for Tullymore and had promised great things to my golfing friend as we embarked on a 10 course run throughout Michigan. Tullymore is always ranked highly in the lists of "golf courses you can play" often snagging the second spot in the state and frequently in the top 30 of the entire USA. However, Tullymore disappoints.
There is nary a hole where you can see the green from the tee and this includes at least one par 3 where the green and flag is hidden behind a huge hill. And as for blind shots, you often cannot see the flag until you are within 100 yards and even from there you can't see it on holes such as number 2 and number 9 because the greens are sunk into recessed depressions.
Once you get past the third hole there every hole presents a sizeable and punishing forced carry which might be fun once in a while, but becomes exhausting after 13 straight holes.
The part that was the most tiresome was not the endless blind shots, but rather the hazards that suddenly appeared hidden just behind the green or in the curve of a fairway.
There were some good parts: nice trees, friendly service, and excellent conditioning. None of which mattered, of course, if you were lying 6 after a punishing stroll through the surprise bunker.
Jim Engh brought his unique style to Tullymore, especially with the distinctive bunkering which look like squiggles of sand meandering around the property. The greens were in fabulous condition and have excellent shapes and contours.