BLACK FOREST AT WILDERNESS VALLEY GOLF RESORT (231) 585-7090
Michigan Golf Course Review
The Wilderness Valley Resort in Gaylord features two championship golf courses that are rated between 3 and 4 stars by Golf Digest Places to Play. Both layouts are serviced by
one clubhouse, which includes a small pro shop and a restaurant/lounge that is popular with the local crowd. Each course features a practice green and a small grass range is
situated near the clubhouse. Black Forest is 4 star rated and is the premier layout, while the Wilderness Valley course is imminently more playable, with less challenging\ green
complexes and with generally more room along the fairways and greenside.
The Black Forest course is the premier layout on property, and has received numerous awards from respected golf publications including: "Top 5 Modern Public Courses in
Michigan" (Golfweek), Gaylord's Best Value (Great Lakes Golfer Reader's Survey), Top Ten New Resort Course in America (Golf Digest 1993), Top Four New Public Course in the
United States (Golf Magazine) and Top 100 Best Modern Course in America - Golf Week & Golf Traveler Magazine (1999). Sprawling over 360 acres, Black Forest features
abundant fairway and greenside bunkers along a rolling terrain with fairways that are sculpted out of Northern Michigan forests. Slopes and mounding plus plentiful elevation
changes result in frequent uneven lies with the ball often located below or above the feet, or in sidehill situations. The undulating and crowned greens are incredibly fun, and
Golfers can choose from 4 sets of tees, with the tips playing to 7044 yards. The slope rating from these tees - 145 - is one of the highest in the state. The blue tee areas measure
6496 yards and also are challenging with a 133 slope. The whites play to 6129 yards and provide all that average golfers can handle with a 126 slope. Women playing from the
4619 yard forward tees will find the course user friendly, even though the slope rates 127. On some of the tougher holes, the yardages are cut noticeably. The par four second for
example, measures 415 yards from the whites, but only 184 from the red tees, with the hole handicapped # 2 from the back tees and # 16 from the red tees. The bottom ,line
however, is that this is one tough track. Distance and accuracy are necessary to find the proper landing areas off the tee, and finesse is definitely needed around the greens.
Bunkers, swales, depressions and slopes often surround the medium to large size putting surfaces.
On course golfers will find yardage blocks at 100, 150 and 200 yards in the center of the fairways, and red, white and blue stakes are also located near the cart paths. Some
sprinkler heads are measured to the center of the greens, and pin placement is indicated by small markers on the flagsticks for up, middle and back hole locations. Each tee box
also provides yardage blocks. Check out the scorecard before teeing off, as hole diagrams and playing tips for holes one through 18 are listed here. Pay attention to pin
placements, as landing on the putting surface to the side or level of the flag will make a huge difference in your score. Long lag putts are not a recommended approach to scoring
well on these challenging greens.
The course is set in a beautiful golfing environment, with carries over natural areas, grass ravines and water hazards challenging even the best of players. Conditioning on the
tees, fairways and greens was very good on our late June visit. Wild and rustic is a good description of the overall experience, with dirt and stone cart paths and soft sand bunkers.
At $65 (including cart) prime time - this is a great value for a course of this quality in the golf mecca of Gaylord. For more information on Black Forest Golf Course, visit our page
with a link to the property's website by clicking here.