The small city of Marquette is not only the most heavily populated on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, but also likely to be the most golf-crazed in northern parts of the state. Despite a modest membership and short golfing season, the Marquette Golf Club does a roaring trade and so busy was its original 1926 Heritage Course, that in 2005 they opened a second, full-length golf course, known as Greywalls.
Designed by local architect Mike DeVries, Greywalls is a wild, rugged ride set mostly atop a broad plateau high above the Lake Superior shoreline. While there are a number of gorgeous outlooks here, the overwhelming highlight is the playability and walkability of a course built upon very extreme ground. Given a tight, rocky property with which to work, the key to the DeVries routing was avoiding the steeper areas and navigating around the granite walls. To his credit, not only did he build a terrific test, he managed to do so on a limited budget. The only areas that get uncomfortably steep are from midway up the 4th fairway to the 6th green, yet this corner includes some of the more memorable shots on the course. The all-rock par three 6th and approach into the cliff-side 5th green are both thrilling.
Elsewhere, the best holes have plenty of visual and strategic interest. The opening par five, with its superb views and tumbling fairway, is a fantastic starter and followed by similarly dramatic long holes like the 7th, 9th, 12th, 13th and 14th . The twin-bulge green on the 7th, which falls away from play, might be the most daring DeVries has ever built. His back nine par threes and short par four 10th are also very good.
Marrying such difficult ground with attractive, smart design is the hallmark of a quality golf architect, and DeVries’s work at Greywalls furthers his reputation as one of the rising stars of the business. It’s not the easiest place to get to, but well worth the effort.