THE NATURAL (989)732-1785
Michigan Golf Course Review
The Natural is a four star Jerry Matthews championship design (Golf Digest 2002) and a respected member of the troupe of golf courses that comprise the "golf mecca" of Gaylord
Michigan. The area is well known throughout the Midwest as a prime location for a great variety of golf properties featuring outstanding quality and value. It would take several
visits to play all the designs available in the Gaylord area, and the Natural is a course that deserves to be on everyone's list.
Rolling hills and scenic wetlands offer wonderful opportunities to view wildlife - we saw deer and fox crossing our path during our round - and also create an environment of peace
and seclusion. Strategic doglegs and elevation changes along with tightly sculpted tree lined fairways make this a shot-makers delight. At 6335 yards from the tips, the Natural is
not a long course, nor is it one suited to those who like to grip it and rip it off every tee. This is a thinking man's (women's) layout, that requires careful club selection and attention
to detail. Lay ups off the tee on various holes, with fairway woods or long irons will present enough shots at the green to create numerous birdie opportunities. Patience is key
here. The variety in design will allow most golfers to use every club in their bag.
On property is a grass range and ample putting green. The clubhouse features a pro shop stocked with golf accessories and a wide range of men's and ladies attire - many with
the beautiful Natural logo. A dining area and lounge offer a lunch and dinner menu plus a full array of beverages, and the spacious outdoor terrace provides spectacular views of
the golf course. The green on the beautiful par three ninth is close enough that expletives can be heard, not deleted. This is some enticing scenery!
On course one will find that yardage stakes at 100/150 and 200 are posted on both sides of the fairway - a technique we wish would be employed by more golf courses. Some
sprinkler heads are also measured to the center of the green, and red, white and blue flags indicate the day's pin placement. The slope from the tips (blues) is a reasonable 128,
and at 5865 yards the whites rate a 123. Forward tees measure 4830 with a 117 slope. You will have pretty much the same views from the blues or whites, and the red tees
provide a considerable break from forced carries. Though tight, we found the Natural to be manageable.
The opening hole is tough right off the bat. At 545 yards it is not an overly long five par, but a tight green complex and a marsh crossing the fairway about 160 out means that hitting
driver off the tee is quite necessary. The par four second is short and narrow...land it on the fairway however and the approach is an easy one. There is room off the tee on 3, but
the downhill approach is very tight. With water immediately left and woods right, this one is pretty to look at, but... Par is a good score on the narrow, uphill par four 4th, which
precedes an extremely short par three at 105 from the back tees. A high soft shot must clear the front bunkers for a chance at par or better. Be wary of the water hazard behind the
green on six, which is quite tight, The seventh presents a good birdie opportunity with a lay up to around the 100 yard marker. A pond short left of the green is not visible from the
tee. Pay attention to the hole diagram card provided for on each cart - valuable info here. Number 8 is a tough dogleg left par four, which really cannot be cut. Place one in the
center of the fairway to the left of the tree line, and you will be faced with a 170 - 180 yard approach which is all carry over a serious marsh. The ninth is a nice closer - an uphill par
three perched on a plateau below the clubhouse, with wetlands right and a steep slope left.
Golfers will find that the yardages between the two nines are dispersed rather evenly, with short par threes present on each side. There are 7 par fours greater than 400 yards
from the back tees, though only 2 carry that distance from the whites. This is one of the aspects of the layout that makes it challenging - driver is needed, and it must be accurate. A
shot to the right side of the fairway on ten will leave an easy approach, and the par five 11th, which also bends slightly left, makes two score-able holes in a row. Two short dogleg
right par fours follow. A tee shot to the center of the fairway will leave a reasonable up hill approach on 12 - cut it too much and you are in the trees. The 13th invites a shot to just
past the 100 yard marker - hit it too far and the downhill slope may carry your ball into the woods. Land it past the tree line right and this is an easy one. From an elevated tee the
beautiful par three 14th plays one club less...with trouble long. This precedes a tricky par four, that presents a great opportunity to hit from an uneven lie. This approach to a
beautiful putting complex is a tight one. A shot shaped right to left will be of benefit on 16, which slopes to an uphill green. If the pin placement is in front on 17, this can be a
difficult hole, with small landing area. If back, the pin is much easier to get to. The finishing hole plays 445 from the backs and 420 from the mid tees, bends right to left, and is the
number one handicap. Hopefully, you have saved your best approach for last, as this one is all carry over wetlands.
Tough but playable...hit it long but play it smart. You will need all your shot making abilities to score well on this enjoyable Jerry Matthews layout. Enjoy the views and bring a few
extra balls. Check out the Two Guys Who Golf detailed information page on this course (which includes a link to the course's website if available) - click here.