Heading up the Western border of Michigan, I was looking for a great golf experience no more than 90 minutes into the state. I quickly remembered the Men’s Golf Team at the University of Missouri-St. Louis competing in South Haven Michigan every Spring at a course called Hawkshead Golf Links. I had always heard good things and figured it would be plenty good enough for me so off we went. Upon arrival I was immediately impressed and surprised, all you could see was well manicured grass everywhere and a great practice facility. Then you notice something you rarely see at non-resort golf courses…an Inn. Hawkshead not only provides a great golf experience but you can stay there as well. With 9 distinct rooms, this could be there perfect location for one of our upcoming Buddies Trips, but let’s get to the golf.
From the first tee you can tell this is going to be a great experience, rolling hills everywhere with a few holes but back in the trees. Beautiful definition from the fairways to the native grass areas that separate the holes, and eat up golf balls when poorly struck. Contoured, but very fair greens that allow you to roll putts in when you are on. Hawkshead provides a great mixture of long and short holes to give you numerous options off of several tee boxes and probably one of my favorite starts to a back nine. The 10th hole is a very strategic hole with trees left and long grass left on this dogleg right Par-4. You can’t hit a driver over all the trouble because the fairway is cut off by a natural waste bunker. Layup with a hybrid and you will likely have 170+ yards in on a left to right slope to a deep and severely sloped green, at least in the back right where our pin was that day. Four is a great score and 5 is not bad. The 11th hole is one I definitely want another crack at. A 90 degree dogleg left that says 310 on the scorecard but probably plays 265. Not getting a good sense of what was need to carry to the green I wimped out and hit hybrid 40 yards short of the green, but with nobody behind us I striped a 3-wood at the green just to see and landed 10 feet from the pin and just trickled off the right side. What a fun hole now that I know what is ahead of me.
My favorite shot on the entire course ended up being my third shot to the Par-4, 18th. A great finishing hole, that demands an accurate tee shot and an even more precise approach. The native sand waste areas are all around this green and missing right is not an option if you plan on finishing the hole. With that in mind I missed left. Which as it turned out was no bargain to a back left pin with a small slope between me and the pin. Fortunately there was an enormous slope on the back right portion of the green and somehow I had the wherewithal to realize that playing it off of this back stop would be more effective than going straight at the pin. I have seen the pros do this on TV but rarely had that seemed like a viable option on the courses that I play. Well it worked and my four foot par putt hit the bottom of the cup, bringing me the most satisfying Par of the day.
I would highly recommend Hawkshead Golf Links to anyone that has been thinking about targeting Michigan for a golf trip, so much so that my family and I have decided on a trip to South Haven, Michigan this Summer and Hawkshead will be a destination for me again in July.
To learn more about Hawkshead Golf Links and The Inn at Hawkshead, visit www.hawksheadlinks.com.