Designers of acclaimed Winter Park 9, Johns and Rhebb, create resort’s latest gem
Roscommon, MI – Golfers have come to anticipate extraordinary golf experiences at highly-ranked Northern Michigan retreat Forest Dunes and soon, there will be a new visually-stunning and fun-focused golfing attraction there to greet resort guests.
Home to the celebrated Tom Weiskopf-designed Forest Dunes course (ranked 28th on Golf Digest’s list of America’s Top 100 Public Golf Courses) and the innovative reversible Tom Doak layout, The Loop (with its counterclockwise Red routing ranked No. 47 and the clockwise Black routing ranked No. 45 on the same Golf Digest list), Forest Dunes us proud to announce that construction is underway on a 10-hole, all-par-three design.
Situated on a peaceful, rolling bulge of land positioned perfectly between The Loop and Forest Dunes courses and near the spacious clubhouse, pavilion, practice area and massive HillTop Putting Course, the short course, with fun, strategic holes measuring between 50 and 155 yards, will be a focal point and an energetic hot spot for golfers of all ages and skill levels.
Forest Dunes owner Lew Thompson considered a handful of top golf course architects before entrusting the par-three course project to Riley Johns and Keith Rhebb, who have previously partnered on the acclaimed renovation at Orlando’s Winter Park 9 course. Johns and Rhebb have also worked on high-profile design projects around the globe with legendary architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.
The, duo, both still in their 30s, met in 2014 while working for Coore and Crenshaw on the construction of Cabot Cliffs in Nova Scotia. Johns also assisted Tom Doak in the initial design and construction stages of The Loop. Also playing a major role in the shaping of the course is Michigan-based golf construction, design and shaping expert Joe Hancock.
“We were thrilled at how quickly this project came together this year and with the huge amount of trust Lew has given us,” Johns says. “He wants a course that will be fun and playable for his grandkids and any golfer of any skill level, so that’s the main goal we’re keeping in mind as we build holes where you can play a variety of shots and trajectories and take different angles to get to the hole.”
While not at all penal or overly-demanding, the 957-yard layout promises to be visually striking, enticing guests to play it before or after a round on The Loop or Forest Dunes or any time they’re on the resort grounds. To facilitate a firm, fast ground game, the course will feature fescues from the tees to the edges of the receptive bentgrass greens where golfers can use strategic slopes and banks to feed shots toward the hole. Rhebb says the greens will take on a variety of subtle shapes, many being bowl-shaped and some resembling catcher’s mitts or table tops.
“When you come to Forest Dunes, we want you to have a good time,” says Thompson, who says he’ll happily allow music, bare feet and eightsomes on the new par-three course if that’s what it takes to make the game more accessible and fun. “What Keith and Riley are building is going to bring a new life and energy to the property. It’s going to bring people together and make their time more enjoyable.”
A unique feature on the course will be that holes 1 and 10 are crossover holes with a tree protecting from direct ball flight issues. “The land gave us such a great canvas to create something fun that offers a ‘welcoming handshake’ to entry-level players and says ‘this is what golf can be.’”
Of the view visitors will see upon entering the golf property, Johns says, “you’ll see some nice shadows, some gently-rumpled ground on this course, but playability is our main focus versus trying to make any bold design statement. Because the course is in the middle of property and so visible, it’s really going to raise the level of enjoyment at Forest Dunes. There will always be a gallery of some sort nearby to cheer you on, especially from the pavilion.”
The new par-three course at Forest Dunes is scheduled to be ready for play in the summer of 2020. Shaping of the all 10 holes will continue through June with irrigation work taking place in July and grassing of the course scheduled for August.
To learn more, visit www.forestdunesgolf.com or follow them on Twitter @forestdunesgolf.
About Forest Dunes
Nestled on 1,300 acres of heavily wooded land within the Huron National Forest, Forest Dunes has become one of the country’s premier golf experiences. In this pristine setting, Tom Weiskopf designed one of his top layouts featuring rugged native dunes, scruffy sand areas and water features. The course has been consistently ranked among the best courses by the leading golf publications. Golf Digest, which ranked its original Weiskopf course the Best New Course in the Country when it opened in 2002, currently ranks it No. 28 among its top public courses, and GOLF Magazine and Golfweek have also ranked it among their Top 100 courses. The unique and reversible Tom Doak design, The Loop, adds a second/third Best New Course to the golf experience at Forest Dunes. In addition, the property features the beautiful Adirondack style Clubhouse with Sangomore’s restaurant, Lake AuSable Lodge with 14-rooms, new golf villas, and cottages.