Bill Johnson walks over to the 10th tee of Stoatin Brae golf course and stretches his arms across a broad landscape of hills and dales teeming with grasses, colorful wildflowers and sprawling sand bunkers. “What do you think?” he asks. It is truly a rhetorical question as the newest addition to Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort in southwest Michigan serves up virtually every attribute that defines a premier golf experience: majestic landscapes, spectacularly rolling topography and design features that challenge players but do not overwhelm them.
Vice-President and PGA professional Johnson states that the course is everything he, owner Jon Scott and family imagined it would be two years ago when they brought in Michigan-based Renaissance Golf Design to look at the property adjacent to the resort’s Stonehedge layout.
“Jon and I looked at that land a while back and knew that it was an apple orchard disguised as a golf course,” Johnson says with a chuckle. The land brought smiles of a different sort to Eric Iverson, Brian Schneider, Don Placek and Brian Slawnik, senior associates at Renaissance.
Based in Traverse City, MI, Renaissance Golf Design is owned and managed by internationally acclaimed architect Tom Doak.
The aforementioned 10th tee is a wondrous observation point to affirm Iverson’s comments. Flagsticks on greens below one’s feet bend slightly as breezes make their way across the property. The tee is also an outstanding vantage point to admire the minimalist design strategies used by the architects. Greens on the par-3s are framed by large sand bunkers. Fairways are wide and maintain the natural contour of the land. Putting surfaces on many of the longer par-4s are large and unencumbered by hazards to allow players to fire away at the pin.
The course plays to 6,800 yards and a par of 71. Stoatin Brae means “grand hill” in Scottish Gaelic, a fitting name for a course reminiscent of the great inland courses found across the British Isles. Indeed, both Johnson and Scott toured Scotland to receive insights on natural golf course design. “We wanted the land to stay the way nature shaped it,” Scott says. “That’s what led us to the Renaissance Design team as they embrace the same philosophy.”
The 18th hole ends a short distance away from a newly constructed clubhouse which features the pro shop, a bar, an outdoor patio and the Blue Stem Restaurant. The dining facility is named after a native grass that grows across the course.
“A number of our regular guests have already visited the course and given us some real positive comments,” Scott says. “With the clubhouse now open and the fescue across the property now turning a gorgeous golden hue, the course is starting to look a picture postcard.” Scott reflects for a moment as he thinks about the new layout. “Our guests can look forward to having a special experience.”
Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort is Southwest Michigan’s oldest and largest golf resort. The complex is owned and operated by the Scott family and features five championship 18-hole parkland courses and a variety of accommodations, including luxury cottages, deluxe suites and fairway villages.
For tee times and more information, visit www.gulllakeview.com.