New owner brings big changes to Forest Dunes Golf Club

Arkansas truck magnate bets on Michigan recovery

e1325704629.jpgROSSCOMMON, MI - Forest Dunes, one of the nation's most critically acclaimed but under-utilized golf clubs, is launching a new future, thanks to energetic new ownership determined to tap its vast potential as a national golfing destination.

After 10 years of collecting coveted awards as one of America's best golf courses with little growth to show for its lofty billing, the 1,300 acre club and its 7,141-yard course designed by Tom Weiskopf, was recently purchased by Lew Thompson, a trucking company magnate from Huntsville, Ark.

Thompson is not a stranger to the golf industry. He is the managing member of a partnership that owns and operates The Bridges Golf & Country Club with a Jack Nicklaus course in Montrose, on Colorado's Western Slope, halfway between Grand Junction and Telluride.

The new owner is wasting no time implementing plans to make Forest Dunes more hospitable and attractive to daily golfers, its current members, as well as potential members who might buy property there.
 
An architect has already designed a 22-room hotel with four luxury suites and building plans will be submitted in January to township and county authorities for approval. The building will be attached to the 23,000-square-foot clubhouse, a spectacular facility designed to invoke the style of a great Adirondack style lodge.
 
"A lot of our members live out of state so when they come in they will have a nicer place to stay than a hotel room," Thompson said. "From the research I've done, a lot of our golfers play there on their way north or on their way south to play somewhere else because we had no place to house them. We decided to build the hotel so they now will have a place to stay."
 
The building site has been staked off and covered with straw to mitigate the ground freezing to give construction crews a fast start when the winter breaks in the north. Thompson said he is planning to have the facility open by the end of June or early July.

Members of The Bridges club will have reciprocal privileges to stay and play at Forest Dunes. Thompson's purchase includes the seven luxurious appointed model homes on the property, as well as the 27-acre Lake AuSable for fishing, canoeing, and beach activities. The clubhouse has a spa, an exercise area, member's locker rooms and a full service restaurant and a separate bar and lounge.  
 
Acknowledging Forest Dunes' reputation as one of the best conditioned public courses, Thompson said that Jim Bluck, the superintendent of grounds and Donny Fisher, the Head Golf Professional are remaining on staff.

Weiskopf, a former British Open champion who has earned an international reputation for world-class course designs, has described Forest Dunes as one of his three best efforts.

Last summer Forest Dunes cracked Golf Magazine's list of the nation's Top 100 courses, making its debut at Number 45. Previously, readers of Golf World magazine selected it as the top public course in the country. It was also ranked No. 18 on Golf Digest magazine's list of the 100 greatest public courses in America. It is a perennial choice on Golf Week's list of their top 100 modern courses in the country.

The course is set within the 40,000-acre Huron National Forest where it Weiskopf found rolling, white inland sand dunes and extensive tracts of sand that he incorporated into memorable golf holes. Complementing the golf course is a huge practice facility that features a two-and-a-half acre putting course.

The course is located in an environmentally sensitive area near the Au Sable River, one of the nation's finest fly fishing venues.Forest Dunes' effort to protect the river earned it a coveted Gold Signature Certification from the Audoban International organization. It is the highest level of certification a golf course can receive, and Forest Dunes is the only course in Michigan to achieve that distinction. There are only 21 other golf properties in the world with that gold certification.  

For more information visit www.forestdunesgolf.com .

 

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