This course is a newer addition to Golf Digest’s Top 100 list that was described to me by a local as the best course no one had ever heard of. I flew into Grand Rapids and stopped off here for a round on my way to play Arcadia Bluffs. This is a Jim Engh design that opened in 2002 and it is certainly in the middle of nowhere which explains why no one has heard of it.
After warming up a bit on the driving range we headed for the 1st tee. I hit a nice drive down the left side of the fairway. Even though I was hitting a fade I had no complaints with my driver on this Michigan trip. I was hitting a lot more fairways than I was used to and getting some great distance. I’m not sure if it was the lack of humidity or something else but I had several drives over 300 yards which never happens back home.
The first two holes were rather uneventful, but the course did get a little more interesting with the 3rd hole, a short 317 yard par 4. An errant tee shot had me hitting three off the tee, but fortunately the shortness of the hole and a great second tee shot allowed me to get in the hole with just two more strokes for a bogey.
As we arrived at the 4th tee box, the par 3 pictured below, we saw the first major challenge of the day . . . 205 yards, all carry, over water.
The pin was located on the left side of the green in the above picture and not wanting to be short I decided to hit a utility club that I can carry 215-220. I hit a career shot and it looked like it was going to be way long. Luckily it flew straight into the tree left of the green which promptly spit it out onto the putting surface 20 feet from the pin. A two putt later I escaped with a par and was pretty pleased about it.
There are back to back par 3s at Tullymore and the 5th was a 182 yarder that was all downhill with a green 40 yards deep, not very wide at all and with a huge ridge in the middle of it. Of course the pin was in the back on this day so it was playing more like 190 or so. Below is the view from the tee box.
With the hole in the back its a pretty tough tee shot to hit the green in the right spot. Leave it short and you have to putt up and over the hill in the middle of the green and if you hit it long you will have a downhill chip to a tight pin. A pretty challenging test when the hole is cut in the back to say the least. You can really see the ridge in the middle of the green in the photo below.
Tullymore did have some interesting points. The bunkering sticks out in my mind in particular. There were several sunken greenside and fairway bunkers like the one in the picture below that required delicate and smart blind shots to get out of them and onto the fairway or green.
The 18th hole is an interesting one with the classic risk/reward situation. After a drive over water on the tee shot the players who hit the fairway will find themselves in the position pictured below. They must decide if they want to go for it over the water with a medium long shot or lay up a nice short iron to the right and play it safe. I chose the safe layup and was glad that I did when I holed out for par. The guys in our group that went for it either ended up wet or in the woods to the left of the green. A fun hole regardless how you play it.
Overall I wasn’t dramatically impressed with Tullymore. It was well groomed, but it felt like just another modern course without much personality. There are a few interesting holes, but mundane seemed to be the order of the day. If you’re thinking of a Michigan trip, its not a bad idea to fly into Grand Rapids and go ahead and play a warm up round at Tullymore before heading further north for the real reason you’re there, Arcadia Bluffs.