GolfLink Guides: The Midwest’s Best Courses

Updated May 5, 2019

The Midwest has been home to some of the best golfers and golf for a long time, though as a region it is often overlooked for sunnier climes and ocean breezes. That is truly a tragedy as the Midwest contains some of America’s best public courses. The following are GolfLink’s Best Midwest Courses.

Whistling Straits (Straits)

N8501 Lakeshore Rd
Sheboygan, WI 53083

As close to Ireland as you can get in the Midwest, and possibly America, this Pete Dye course is a masterful links layout. There are almost 1,000 bunkers on this otherworldly landscape that features bluffs, rolling hills, and high dunes. The course is right on the Lake Michigan coast on what was a former WWII-era training facility and features beautiful views of the seemingly endless waters. It was also slated to host the 2020 Ryder Cup, which has been postponed to 2021 with no change in venue.

The Prairie Club (Dunes)

88897 NE-97
Valentine, NE 69201

Nebraska might not be famed as a golf destination, but the Dunes course at the Prairie Club might soon change that. Located in the Sandhills region of Nebraska, designers Tom Lehman and Chris Brands had a wide open area to use. Rather than massive earth moving, however, they decided to use the natural prairie hills to craft a links course that plays beautifully. The course features many tee boxes, making it fun for golfers of all levels and is kept in excellent condition.

Forest Dunes (The Loop)

6376 Forest Dunes Dr
Roscommon, MI 48653

Forest Dunes in Roscommon is home to 3 distinguished courses, including the Tom Weiskopf designed namesake. That course is worth playing on its own merit. However, we at GolfLink are highlighting the Tom Doakes’ designed Loop course. Not only is this a beautiful course, it is also the only reversible course in the world. That’s right, the course can be played front to back to back to front, with routings changing based on the day. What could be a hokey concept instead results in 2 beautiful courses located inside the space generally allotted for one. It will be interesting to see if this idea catches on in the wider world of golf design.

The Harvester Club

1102 330th St
Rhodes, IA 50234

From the land of corn and wide open skies comes one of the Midwest’s best golf courses at the Harvester Golf Club. What might be surprising to some is that Rhodes, Iowa's Harvester also has over 80 feet of elevation changes. The course was designed by Keith Foster and is an homage to the numerous C.B. Macdonald courses that helped define American golf. What Foster has done excellently is using the natural features of the land to craft memorable holes that seem to blend into the Iowa countryside.

Giants Ridge (Quarry)

Giants Ridge Rd.
Biwabik, MN 55708

The Quarry course at Biwabik, Minnesota’s Giants Ridge Resort is a stunning reclamation of the land. The resort, which operates seasonally and also offers skiing in the wintertime, goes through former gravel and sand quarries and around former iron mines. The result is a jagged landscape that lends itself to dramatic routing and elevation changes. The course also is hard to pigeonhole, with wooded holes, links-style holes, and water-lined holes all coming into play on this superb Jeff Brauer designed course.

Erin Hills Golf Course

7169 Co Rd O
Hartford, WI 53027

One of the most difficult courses to make the list, Erin Hills’ pedigree cannot be argued. As host of the 2017 U.S. Open, won by Brooks Koepka, showed to the world the difficulty of this Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry, and Ron Whitten designed course. The scarred land, shaped by glaciers, provides a natural course that features narrow fairways, fast greens, and no gimmicks. The course measures over 7,800 from the tips and will require every club in your bag.

Cog Hill Golf and Country Club (No. 4 Dubsdread)

12294 Archer Ave
Lemont, IL 60439

Cog Hill’s Number 4, better known as “Dubsdread”, has been a monster in Midwest golf since it was opened in 1964. Initially designed by Dick Wilson, it has since been updated by Rees Jones to give it even more bite. The course uses heavily guarded greens and ample fairway bunkers to demand accuracy. Elevation also comes into play as the course rollicks over ridges and canyons in this beautiful course.

French Lick Resort (Pete Dye Course)

8670 West, IN-56
French Lick, IN 47432

Heading to the uniquely named French Lick Resort in Indiana, the Pete Dye-designed course is considered by many to be the best in the state. The course is built on the second highest point in Indiana for the casino and spa resort, but easy resort course it is not. Playing at over 8,000 yards from the tips, Dye designed a championship caliber course to challenge any golfer. The fairways are tight with unique routing and special “volcano bunkers” guard many of the greens.

Blackwolf Run (River)

1111 W Riverside Dr.
Kohler, WI 53044

One of the Midwest’s best known golf facilities, Blackwolf Run has several challenging and fun courses for golfers to explore but mostgolfers start with the River course. River is another Pete Dye masterpiece that uses the natural surroundings to create a beautiful parkland layout. Golfers should expect plenty of water and difficult greens, which are guarded by water or canyons on all but 4 holes. There are also numerous large elevation changes that provide both challenge and a definite “wow” factor.

Arcadia Bluffs

14710 Northwood Hwy
Arcadia, MI 49613

A crown jewel of Midwest golf, Arcadia Bluffs is one of America’s best public facilities. The facility features 2 courses, the beautiful namesake Arcadia Bluffs and the newer South Course. Arcadia Bluffs is a beautiful course with natural sand dunes, wild grassy wastes, and many views of Lake Michigan. Wind comes into factor often on this course, and many players can’t wait for a second chance to play through the course again. The South Course is a tribute of sorts to PGA founding member Chicago Golf Club, inspired by the classic layout of C.B. Macdonald and Seth Raynor. The resulting course is seen by some to surpass its source material, and truly has to be played to be believed. Expect a challenge at whatever course you play, and enjoy the beautifully constructed and maintained hole at Arcadia Bluffs.