Arcadia Bluffs is one of the most visually impressive and overall stunning public courses in America and may only be rivaled by Wolf Creek in Mesquite, NV in terms of “wow factor” and eye candy.
Built on 240 acres that was a mix of apple and cherry orchards, and densely wooded sections, construction of Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club began in 1997 and was completed in 1999, with the clubhouse opening July 4th and the golf course to limited play on Labor Day. Although the land was spectacular by itself, many of the mounds and native areas were sculpted and shaped into their present form as the holes were routed by architect Warren Henderson. As the course began to emerge, it was clear that this was going to be a special place.
Throughout the years over half of the green complexes have been modified, offering a more enjoyable and playable course with an improved pace of play. Many of the original sod-walled bunkers have been converted into native bunkers, but those that remain are rebuilt every 3-5 years.
Arcadia Bluffs runs along more than 3,000 feet of shoreline and the course drops more than 200 feet from its highest point down to the cliffs which themselves are 150 feet above the lake – it is as dramatic a setting for golf as you can imagine and there is not a weak hole on the card to give you any respite as you play.
Fairways are generally wide and drain superbly due to the sandy soil. Greens average 8,000 square feet so they are huge. Bunkering on the course is exceptional and golfers are advised to avoid all of the 50 riveted bunkers that are scattered round the course if they want to score well.
Holes have been renumbered from the original configuration to enable a stronger finish and allow players access to the clubhouse around the turn, in effect creating two loops of nine. Three holes define the Arcadia Bluffs course, starting at the 633-yard, par five 11th hole which swings gently left and downhill toward the lake. The 431-yard, par four 12th hole then runs along the cliff top before the feature hole for many is played – the 240-yard, par three 13th where the tee shot has to carry a canyon to find the green which is perched on the cliff edge over Lake Michigan – don’t forget to bring your camera!
Arcadia Bluffs has a range and short game practice area to sharpen up your game before playing. And after your round, there is a wonderfully appointed clubhouse with patio deck, sunset grill and dining room to relax in – it is said that “the dining experience is almost as special as your round” – with wonderful views across the lake.
Signature Hole at Arcadia Bluffs Golf: 11th Hole – 633 Yard Par 5 – On a course full of memorable holes, the 11th is perhaps the most wild and memorable hole on the course. This dogleg left is carved between the dunes with the fairway reaching its widest point about 250 yards from the tips before it dives downhill out of view. Throughout the hole the fairway slopes from left to right encouraging players to hug the left side in order to gain the greatest distances and angles available. From tee to green, the hole drops a total of 200 feet which can be counteracted by the strong winds that often blow in from Lake Michigan. The wildly undulated green features multiple falloffs and is a 3-putt waiting to happen. With Lake Michigan creating a background for the hole, the 11th is one of the most dramatic and scenic holes in the entire state.
Our team also loves the 12th Hole – 431 Yards – Reminiscent of Bandon Dunes’ famous 5th hole, this stunning par four is sure to excite the senses as it travels along the bluffs above Lake Michigan. Players enjoy some serious eye candy as they take in the glistening blue water, white sand bunkers, golden fescue, and rolling green fairway that typify the 12th hole. Letting your tee ball ride the wind likely coming from your left will give you the perfect angle into the green from the right side of the fairway. From here, the green opens up and is receptive to aerial or ground game shots while Lake Michigan and a small patch of trees provide an impressive backdrop.