The Kingsley Club is truly one of the hidden gems in America. Few people have heard of it and even less would recognize the course architect. Hidden in a remote portion of northern Michigan, Kingsley Club’s off-the-radar location adds to the lure and mystique of a truly exceptional layout that feels like a blend of Crystal Downs, The Course at Yale, and another remotely located course, Whispering Pines. Interestingly, Kingsley and Whispering Pines have an annual match play competition called The Challenge Cup where members seek to bring the title back to their home club. Kingsley is a minimalist design that does an exceptional job taking advantage of Mother Nature’s contours and delivering a course that feels natural, rugged, and yet carefully crafted. The very modest clubhouse delivers further evidence that Kingsley is all about one thing; great golf.
The course features significant elevation movement throughout the property but those hills are just as easily handled walking the course as Augusta National is. The course seeks firm and fast conditions so the turf isn’t plush yet plays well in the same vain as the courses at Bandon Dunes. The bunkering is beautiful throughout the course and fits the natural theme of the sand dunes found on the property. Trees encompass the border of the course but are not a factor on the interior of the routing due to the links design concept. Carts are available though it is common to find players packing their clubs on their back to enjoy an exceptional walk through varied terrain and hole designs.
The topography is a diverse, with an open links-like front nine and a back nine which is routed through mature hardwoods and pines. The architect, Mike DeVries moved little earth in laying out The Kingsley Club and the result looks perfectly natural. “I say Kingsley is a 21st Century version of Crystal Downs”, said Golf Digest’s Ron Whitten, “and someday it will contend for a spot on America’s 100 Greatest.”
Signature Hole: 9th Hole – 165 Yard Par 3 – The most controversial hole at Kingsley is without a doubt the par three 9th that features two separate teeing grounds. The green is set up to accept shots from one of the four tee boxes coming in from the west or one of the three tee boxes coming in from the south. The ridge that bisects the green creates two distinct bowls in the putting surface to aim at which also creates some unique putting opportunities when the hole is in the opposite bowl as your ball. The dramatic downward slope around the green encourages players to take enough club to prevent watching their ball tumble down the hill to an unsavory lie. This hole is a lot of fun and quite a unique way to conclude the opening nine.