To the Victor Go…
Quarantine/lockdown can make anyone go crazy during a pandemic. Hell, I’m posting on my own website for the first time in 11 months because of it. But this post is long overdue and I wish I’d done something of this ilk before quarantine drove me to it. If you aren’t on the Twitter then perhaps you missed what I’m talking about. Some Michiganders on the social platform were discussing all the brackets out there being filled out to replace our beloved/canceled March Madness. The idea of a bracket for Michigan courses was born and I took the ball and ran with it. Why not? I’m America’s guest. Who’s played more tracks in the state than me?
The Mitten has a collection of courses that can hold its own against any state. While many of its gems are private, for the purposes of a bracket it only seemed fair to make the tournament specific to the great public tracks in the Michigan. I broke the state down by regions. The West, south of Traverse along the Lake Michigan coast including Grand Rapids. The North, consisting of the Traverse City area, Petoskey, Harbor Springs and the Upper Peninsula. The Central, the upper part of the Lower Peninsula east of 127 and 75, while North of Saginaw. And the Southeast, Detroit, Lansing, and the urban sprawl down to the Ohio border.
Obviously the North region was stacked. If I had a do-over I’d move Forest Dunes to the Central, along with the Loop routings. I’d also include Macatawa in the West. But that doesn’t really change the result. In the end the heavy hitters advanced, but a few surprises made the Final Four and a plucky underdog won the whole damn thing. Congrats to Diamond Springs of Hamilton! The Mike DeVries designed course held its own on the weaker side of the bracket and used its social media presence to push past Tullymore in the semi final and Marquette’s Greywalls (another DeVries course) in the final.
Here’s another tweet with the best image I could get of the entire bracket:
Diamond Springs is a great golf course, and a great value. Don’t go there expecting it to be pristine. Have an open mind. Enjoy the value you’re getting, and enjoy the design. The setting and use of the land is divine. You’ll play holes you never could have dreamed of. And as the title here says, to the victor go the spoils. The Fried Egg has a video that includes shots of several courses that made our bracket and Diamond Springs is heavily featured.
In addition, there’s a whole post on Andy’s site discussing the intricacies of Diamond Springs with some great photos. Hit that up here.
Is Diamond Springs that good? Should Greywalls have beaten Arcadia Bluffs and Forest Dunes to get to the final? Yes, Diamond is that good, and fun as hell to play. But there’s a reason I made it the 5 seed in the West region to start the tournament. Greywalls? I haven’t played it. But if it is half as good as the other 4 DeVries designs in Michigan it probably earned its spot. The pictures of Greywalls have me planning a family trip to the U.P. for 2021. I have not been there since 2002. Golf, man.
Now let’s step back a minute. In one and done match ups anything can happen. A club pro can beat Tiger Woods, a 16 seed can beat a 1, and a hot drunk girl can hook up with an absolute dork. I’m not saying either of the courses that made the final are duds, they’re great. But perhaps re-ranking 25 of the courses in the bracket makes a little more sense in hindsight. I’ll give it a whirl.
- Arcadia Bluffs (Bluffs) – still the big dog based on setting, experience, views, and fun.
- Forest Dunes
- Greywalls – this tourney run says something. Golf Twitter loves the place.
- The Loop – both routings, can’t double dip here like we did in the bracket.
- Diamond Springs – from 5 seed in the West to 5 overall. It is now on everyone’s radar.
- Eagle Eye
- Belvedere – This grandfather of northern golf has quite a following.
- Arcadia Bluffs (South Course) – new kid on the block, a golfers golf course.
- Bay Harbor
- Pilgrim’s Run – Another DeVries that is no longer hidden.
- The Heather
- Stoatin Brae
- Sage Run – I’m not sure how I made this one a 16 seed.
- Shepards Hollow
- Jones Masterpiece – Treetops
- The Orchards
- Forest Akers – West
- The Gailes
- Manistee National
- Bucks Run
- Harbor Shores
- The Legend
- The Grande
- Hawk Hollow
Once you get past 25 you’re splitting hairs in rankings. I made moves up/down the ranking based on performance to seed in the bracket and popularity in comments and inquiries. If your course made our bracket it is pretty damn good. If it didn’t, drop a comment and make the case for why it should. Perhaps it will make the next one. Until then, stay safe, and think about which one of these Michigan gems you’ll play next once this whole pandemic thing settles down.