Ravines Golf Club
The RAVINES (269.857.1616) in Saugatuck is the first Arnold Palmer signature course in southwest Michigan. Our 3-hour drive from metro Detroit to play the Ravines and their sister property (Clearbrook) was well worth it. The sun was just rising as we pulled into the parking lot on this gorgeous piece of property. We were greeted by courteous employees, who took care of our bags and informed us that there was a complimentary range and practice area. It was an appreciated treat to make use of the pyramids of balls stacked up on their grass range - especially after such a long drive.
There also was a short game area and ample putting green, along with a beautiful clubhouse. This truly is a private club experience on one of Michigan's finest public courses.
We had heard that the course was tough - but were pleasantly surprised to discover it's wide fairways with generous landing areas. Though challenging (with a slope rating of 142 from the tips), the Ravines allows room for some error and is very fair. There are not any "tricked up" holes, and the trouble you need to avoid is well defined.
Their yardage guidebook is worth the few bucks - providing very accurate information with hole descriptions and yardage info from all 4 sets of tees. A reasonable par 4, dogleg right awaits you on the first tee, followed by a shorter par 4 second. Elaborate bunkering and the smallest green on the course provide the challenge on this hole. The par three 3rd is typical of the short holes on Ravines, with an undulating green protected by bunkers and flanked by woods and wetlands.
The par 5 fourth doglegs to the right, and gets narrower along the way. These holes should warm you up for the most challenging sequence of the layout. Two beautiful dogleg lefts require precise tee shots and accurate approaches over wetlands. Number 7 gently turns to the right, with an uphill approach to a narrow putting surface. The easiest hole on the course, the par 3 eighth, is followed by the #4 handicap hole, a challenging par 5.
Water comes into play all along the left side and will challenge your approach unless you stay on the plateaued fairway to the right.
The back nine opens with the most challenging hole on the course, a tough and long dogleg left, where par is a good score. Mature trees, wetlands and bunkers come into play. Numbers 11 through 13 will present good par and birdie opportunities if you play smartly and lay - up to
the opportune areas.
Fourteen is a challenging par 5 with a huge fairway bunker and a shallow wetland crossing 60 yards short of the green. The 15th is a beautiful and challenging par 4 that requires a long carry over wetlands and an approach from the left side of the fairway to an undulating green. Avoid the heather to the left on your next tee shot, and you might have a good chance for a birdie on this short par 4. Bring out your camera for the par 3 17th.
This signature hole features a courageous tee shot over a ravine, to one of the largest putting surfaces on the course. Pay attention to the pin placement and land your shot on the correct portion of the green and you will have an easy par. The closing hole is a short par five that presents several options - the best of which is a controlled tee shot followed by a long approach over wetlands. It is possible to reach in two - but most will have a wedge remaining to an uphill green protected by relatively deep bunkers. This is a fair hole and a great finish to an interesting round.
The Ravines was a good test and extremely fun to play. Many of the holes were reminiscent of Northern Michigan layouts. The undulating greens and elaborate bunkering system (on the fairways and near the greens) are Palmer trademarks, and add to the aesthetic beauty of the course. Conditions were great!
The staff is obviously proud of the property, and does their best to make sure you enjoy your experience there. Highly recommended! Visit the Ravines page on our detailed listing web catalog, and their website for more information. FIX THOSE BALL MARKS AND REPLACE ALL DIVOTS!
January 1, 2003