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HARBOR SHORES (THE GOLF CLUB at) (269-927-4653)

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Michigan golf course review

The Golf Club at Harbor Shores - Michigan golf course

Harbor Shores is the only Jack Nicklaus Signature course designed on the shores of Lake Michigan - and this layout is simply spectacular! While many courses are becoming environmentally conscious, Harbor Shores goes a step further by exhibiting a social consciousness as well. The property in Benton Harbor features 3 distinctive types of golf environment as holes are shaped among lakefront dunes, Michigan hardwoods and pristine wetlands. The social environment taps into the natural surroundings of Benton Harbor with city life just blocks away and local workers entrusted to establish a tradition of excellent service. Though the course opened just 2 weeks before our visit - we give Harbor Shores A pluses on all counts! This is a MUST EXPERIENCE golf course.

The Golf Club at Harbor Shores - Michigan golf course
The Golf Club at Harbor Shores - Michigan golf course

In establishing such a first class facility in this urban environment, The Golf Club of Harbor Shores has spurred further investment that will hopefully lead to a vibrant development, enabling the community to prosper. Included in immediate plans is a 530 acre resort community featuring a riverwalk with restaurants, shops, marinas, a boutique hotel and spa, miles of recreational trails and rivers plus acres of parks and green space. Golfers will appreciate the extras on the course as well, including the Jack Nicklaus commemorative sculptures on each of the 18 tee boxes, honoring the record 18 major championships that he won on tour.

The property features a clubhouse with pro shop and dining area serving hot and cold sandwiches, snacks and beverages. There is no alcohol available on property in 2010 - a liquor license is pending. Stacked balls on the well kept targeted driving range are complimentary to green fee paying guests, and there also is a putting green. Sprinkler heads are measured to the center of the green and an A B C pin placement system is in place with charts posted on the golf carts.

The Golf Club at Harbor Shores - Michigan golf course
The Golf Club at Harbor Shores - Michigan golf course

We were quite surprised at the meticulously manicured playing conditions - this course was in immaculate shape just 2 weeks after the grand opening - which featured visits and play by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Johnny Miller. Golfers will immediately notice two things (other than the gorgeous design and environment) - the intricately shaped sand bunkers that are situated near the landing zones and greenside, plus the extremely undulating putting surfaces. These two factors are constant throughout the 18 spectacular holes.

The Golf Club at Harbor Shores - Michigan golf course
The Golf Club at Harbor Shores - Michigan golf course

Including several sprawling waste areas, there are approximately 79 soft sand bunkers of varying shapes and sizes, some fescue faced and some with mounds of rough situated right in the middle of the hazards. Players will especially want to avoid these traps off the tee - as the results can be quite penal. The sand is very soft and consistent, making greenside recoveries very possible. Pristine water hazards come into play on 9 holes, with just a couple of forced carries.

The green complexes are extremely challenging - with the putting surfaces often raised and characterized by moguls and tiers that make it vital for approach shots to reach the correct level. Miss the green and golfers will have some interesting up and down opportunities amongst the swales and collection areas. There are numerous multi tiered greens , and 3 and 4 putts are entirely likely if golfers land on the incorrect tier. Pay attention to the pin placement and do not simply go for the green - consider the location of the flag! Those apt to play safely and go for the center of the green will be in for a "fun" day with some roller coaster types of lag putts. We experienced several - and have to say that, though challenging, it was extremely fun to play on these uniquely undulating putting surfaces.

The Golf Club at Harbor Shores - Michigan golf course
The Golf Club at Harbor Shores - Michigan golf course

There are 4 sets of tees that play to distances and slopes measuring 6861 yards/143 slope, 6254 yards/137 slope, 5755 yards/133 slope and 4942 yards with a slope of 123 from the forward tees. Par is 71 with 5 beautiful par threes and 4 interesting par fives. The par fours are a good mix and present opportunities to use driver, mixed in with holes that demand careful shot placement. Holes 7, 8 and 9 are especially beautiful, with magnificent views of Lake Michigan present from the green complex on number 7 - our favorite hole on the course. The ranger/golf concierge that you will encounter prior to beginning your round t will impart some course knowledge that will be extremely helpful - listen!

The Golf Club at Harbor Shores - Michigan golf course

This course is worth the drive from Detroit (a little over 3 hours) and from Chicago (100 miles). Play it once and you will want to play it again - immediately. For staunch golfers - we recommend a morning round followed by a replay in the afternoon…or stay at one of the hotel properties recommended on their website. This is destined to be named one of the finest golf courses in Michigan and the Midwest. For more info, visit our page for the course with direct link to their website by clicking here.

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