New closer: Final three at Crooked Tree Golf Club in Petoskey to get the Arthur Hills touch

By Mike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

PETOSKEY, Mich. -- As a complement to the spectacular Bay Harbor Golf Club, Crooked Tree Golf Club across the highway certainly fits the bill.

Crooked Tree Golf Club - No. 16
Crooked Tree's 16th currently runs out of fairway around 220 yards, leaving a difficult approach shot.
Crooked Tree Golf Club - No. 16Crooked Tree Golf Club - No. 17Crooked Tree golf course - 18th
If you go

There are a few lake views, plenty of elevated tees and a host of interesting holes. In many ways, though, it's the antithesis of Bay Harbor -- crazy greens, a few blind shots and old-style feel from its original architect, Harry Bowers.

But while the 6,721-yard, par-71 layout that opened in 1991 is certainly a nice change of pace for the Boyne Resort property, it isn't without its flaws. That's why Boyne Resorts has brought in Bay Harbor's architect, Arthur Hills, to redo the last three holes. Work on the project was scheduled to begin in late summer 2013 in time for the opening of the 2014 season. The course will remain open for play on nos. 1-15 during the construction period.

"We are honored to once again have the opportunity to work with Arthur Hills, a true golf legend," said Bernie Friedrich, Boyne Resorts' senior vice president of golf and retail. "Hills' redesign of Crooked Tree Golf Club's finishing holes will have a great impact on the playability of the course while maintaining the aesthetics and beauty for which Crooked Tree Golf Club is known."

Plans for Crooked Tree Golf Club's closing trio

While Hills designs courses to make them more playable, they're not necessarily forgiving. His philosophy is to present risk-reward on every hole, which is exactly what he intends to accomplish on the last three holes.

The 16th is probably the hole in most need of repair. It's a 400-yard par 4 that drops off severely after 220 yards off the tee. The play right now is to lay up because the hill beyond the fairway has gnarly lies, making it virtually unplayable. Below is a green flanked by a water hazard on the right. The two-tiered green is so severe that putting from the rear to a front flag is an impossible two-putt.

"We're going to cut from the fairway down to the tee, then all the way down and not have rough on the slope," Hill said. "Then we'll move the green down by the pond where it already exists so it becomes more of a risk-reward hole. The green site is going to be lowered, so it's about four feet above the pond."

The par-5 17th at Crooked Tree is similar in the sense that the fairway also runs out at around 350 yards off the tee to a hill that's virtually unplayable.

"From the dogleg we're going to cut slowly downhill, push all that dirt down in the deep ravine and lower the green about 10 feet," Hills said. "And then we'll take all that dirt and push it into the ravine, so that you'll be able to play all the way from the dogleg down to the green. I think it will a real pretty hole; there are a lot of real pretty trees on either side of the second shot."

The 431-yard 18th needs to least amount of work.

"We're talking about moving the tees over to the left to lessen the sharpness of the dogleg to get the view into some trees instead of seeing the white condo units along the left side," Hills said. "And the green is pretty severely contoured now. We're going to lower the front half of it and then go up onto its second half. It's not all that complicated."

Overall, the holes will be more playable, he said, with better risk-reward possibilities.

"I just think the changes will make it more fun to play it," Hills said. "You're just going to have a more positive feeling about playing the course."

Mike BaileyMike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment