The Club at Spanish Peaks

Big Sky, Montana

Arcadia Bluffs (South) (Bear Lake, Michigan)

Arcadia Bluffs (South) logo Golf Course Review by: Billy Satterfield

The Takeaway:  Arcadia Bluffs has two of the most contrasting sister courses in the country with most players loving one and not being as impressed by the other. For me, the South course doesn't live up to the greatness it aspired to reach when using Chicago Golf Club as its inspiration.  Grade B-

Quick Facts

Designer:  Dana Fry and Jason Straka 2018

Cost:  $50 - $160 (includes cart) Click for current rates

Phone Number:  800-494-8666

Course Website:  Official Website - Visit Arcadia Bluffs (South)'s official website by clicking on the link provided.

Directions:  Get here! - 13637 Northwood Hwy, Bear Lake, Michigan  49614 – UNITED STATES

Photos:  See additional photos of Arcadia Bluffs (South)

What to Expect:  The second of the two courses at Arcadia Bluffs, the inspiration for the South course comes from design concepts of yesteryear brought to America by Charles Blair Macdonald and Seth Raynor. The main focus of attention was looking to the Midwest's most exclusive and revered golf course; Chicago Golf Club. The result is a course featuring square greens, bunkers with 90 degree bends, and thin ribbon cross bunkers with high faces that are matched up with firm, fast conditions that promote the ground game. While the execution on design meets many of the course's goals, particularly with the greens, the course ultimately lacks memorability without a single hole standing out as great. The template holes at Macdonald and Raynor courses have been used repeatedly and have stood the test of time due to the enjoyment and strategy they offer while the non-template holes deliver some variety in the design along with an opportunity to maximize changes in the terrain. However at Arcadia Bluffs' South course, the intention wasn't to create template holes. Instead, the intention was to tip its cap to the Golden Age of architecture and its styles. With mostly flat treeless terrain though, and the desire to not use template holes, the South course needed to count on exceptional design characteristics to create an engaging experience but unfortunately falls short with holes that mainly lack memorability or the engagement a course like this could have had. That being said, the highlight of the course is certainly the greens that are large in square footage but small in how they play with distinct areas that reward players and others that are quick to punish. In the end, I love the contrast that the South course offers in comparison to the Bluffs course, but my vote stands with the original track as Arcadia's most engaging golf experience.

By the Numbers

Tees Par Yardage Rating Slope
Champion (Black) 72 7412 75.6 132
Blue 72 6932 73.1 129
White 72 6380 70.6 125
Gold 72 5814 68.1 118
Red 72 5261 64.8 109
Red (Ladies) 72 5261 69.6 118

Individual Hole Analysis

Signature Hole:  13th Hole – 447 Yard Par 4 – A great two-shotter that doglegs to the right, a large fairway bunker on the outside of the bend stands as a great aiming point where a baby fade would put the cherry on top. The approach shot offers one of the more exciting moments on the course with a ball that needs to carry the cross bunkers enroute to a punchbowl green. The cross bunkers are well short of the putting surface, but their looming presence provides a visually intimidating feature for the less confident player.

13th Hole at Arcadia Bluffs (South) (447 Yard Par 4)
13th Hole at Arcadia Bluffs (South) (447 Yard Par 4)

13th Hole at Arcadia Bluffs (South) (447 Yard Par 4)
13th Hole at Arcadia Bluffs (South) (447 Yard Par 4)

Best Par 3:  5th Hole – 200 Yards – The uphill 5th is an easy hole to make a bogey on. The false front of the green is quick to deny balls from entering the putting surface and will push shots coming up wanting back to the fairway. The rise in the green demands that players reach the center of the green with their tee ball in order to work a ball to the back right portion of the green where the putting surface slants towards. Despite the bunkers on each side of the green, success is rarely found here if you aren't aggressively trying to reach the day's pin location.

5th Hole at Arcadia Bluffs (South) (200 Yard Par 3)
5th Hole at Arcadia Bluffs (South) (200 Yard Par 3)

Best Par 4:  7th Hole – 403 Yards – Missing the five fairway bunkers is critical for success on this hole, so take the longest club off the tee that you have the most confidence with from an accuracy standpoint. Once safely in the fairway, things get interesting with the approach shot that plays to a green that is very narrow up front and much wider in the back, but also features a bunker that wraps the entire left side of the putting surface. The spine across the center of the green makes it extra interesting as the sloping towards or away from the flag can create a stroke difference in your score.

7th Hole at Arcadia Bluffs (South) (403 Yard Par 4)
7th Hole at Arcadia Bluffs (South) (403 Yard Par 4)

7th Hole at Arcadia Bluffs (South) (403 Yard Par 4)
7th Hole at Arcadia Bluffs (South) (403 Yard Par 4)

Best Par 5:  11th Hole – 593 Yards – A double bending par five, the 11th generally plays downwind and will encourage players to cut loose on their driver. Tee balls that go up the left side will shorten the second shot and can allow players to take their longest club towards the green whether they can reach the green in two or not; especially since the last fairway bunker is nearly 100 yards shy of the green. The deepest bunker on the course is hidden behind this green, so don't get too aggressive when attacking a back pin.

11th Hole at Arcadia Bluffs (South) (593 Yard Par 5)
11th Hole at Arcadia Bluffs (South) (593 Yard Par 5)

11th Hole at Arcadia Bluffs (South) (593 Yard Par 5)
11th Hole at Arcadia Bluffs (South) (593 Yard Par 5)

Birdie Time:  15th Hole – 376 Yard Par 4 – From a higher point on the course, players are afforded an expansive view from the tee where many of the holes can be seen. Players can cut loose on the driver here with the downhill tee shot playing over a small fairway bunker that marks the ideal line to take towards the green. Pins found in the center and back of the green can be attacked from any length, while pins up front may be best approached with a club you can take a full swing with and generate the proper spin to get your ball to stop behind the bunker fronting the green.

15th Hole at Arcadia Bluffs (South) (376 Yard Par 4)
15th Hole at Arcadia Bluffs (South) (376 Yard Par 4)

Bogey Beware:  4th Hole – 490 Yard Par 4 – This hole is a behemoth. Stretching out to just shy of 500 yards, the 4th is the longest of the two-shotters on Arcadia Bluffs' South course. Four fairway bunkers are found in the landing zone that can quickly derail any opportunity to reach the green in two while long bombers playing downwind may need to be conscientious of the pot bunker in the center of the fairway 150 yards from the green. Since the hole generally plays downwind the yardage isn't as brutal as it may seem, but it also makes it challenging to hold the green if you don't land it short and use the ground game to reach the putting surface.

4th Hole at Arcadia Bluffs (South) (490 Yard Par 4)
4th Hole at Arcadia Bluffs (South) (490 Yard Par 4)

4th Hole at Arcadia Bluffs (South) (490 Yard Par 4)
4th Hole at Arcadia Bluffs (South) (490 Yard Par 4)

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