Our tour of the most revered courses in Michigan continued today, as we took a little trip up to mid-Michigan to play Eagle Glen. While the GPS may have said Farwell, Michigan, if you had told us it was the coast of Scotland, we would have believed you. Lush, rolling fairways, devilish bunkers, heather and gorse to gobble up any wayward shots, plus a majestic papier-Mache eagle to greet members as they arrive.
Designed by famed architect Matthew & Associates, the patriarch of the CB Macdonald and Seth Raynor lineage of golf course designers, as well as Alister MacKenzie’s biggest influence, Eagle Glen provides a challenge for golfers of all skill levels. Whether you’re wearing jean shorts ripping a heater or spent extra on that mesh bag of used Titleist XXXs, you’ll find that Eagle Glen tests every shot in your bag.
Fortunately, one of the original investors in Work Hangover is counted among the prestigious list of members, and he welcomed us on what seemed to be a benign day with ideal scoring conditions. We’ll keep his identity anonymous, as the club prefers not to publicly identify members.
As we approach the first tee, full of excitement and nerves, Phyllis and Cathy sped up to the tee box in their custom golf cart and played ahead. Being two local legends, we weren’t about to say anything, but we were clearly rattled just to be in their presence.
#1 – A short par four that should start your day off with a good look at par. The scorecard provides a brief, eloquent description of each hole to help its guests. It’s the little things, you know. Also, it should be noted, the scorecard informs us that there is an ATM on the property, and the bar & grille has a pizza over and a “large selection of IPA Beers.” Nerves get the best of us, as we get quick on our first tee and yank it into the driving range. Our second tee ball finds the fairway, then the green and then the bottom of the hole in two putts. Easy
par double bogey.
#2 – Long par 5 which is ranked as the 4th hardest hole on the course. People often ask, how is it possible to get a triple bogey? Well, you hit the fairway, hit a decent layup for your second shot, chunk your third into a bunker and it plugs, blast out sideways, wedge over the green chip 25 feet past the hole down to the front of green, two putt. Pretty simple really.
#3 – MacKenzie was once quoted as saying the third hole is where he found the inspiration for the 18th at Augusta. The intimidating tee shot through a chute of pine trees, with a fairway bunker in the landing area, one must hit a soft cut to be positioned well to attack the green. Our host, sensing the group playing #2 isn’t respecting the course, fires his tee ball off a tree and into their fairway. They won’t bother us the rest of the day. Just like the dead mouse on the tee box won’t be bothering anyone. Unless staring at a dead mouse while you are teeing off bothers you.
#4 – Eagle Glen’s collection of par 3’s has been rated the toughest collection of par 3’s on any course that is in the Open Championship list of alternate courses should they ever be forced to move the tournament into mid-Michigan. #4 is the first of these par threes, and from the tips (which we played, obvi), plays 185 uphill with a giant tree that blocks the entire left side of the green. We attempted to hit our high draw, but the ball didn’t draw. Or go high.
#5 – Another par 5 which we played like we actually know what we’re doing.
#6 – Identified on the scorecard as the signature hole, this par 3 requires a 200-yard carry over water to a small green surrounded by bunkers. In other words, it is impossible. Wait…did I mention the giant tree that blocks out the left side of the green? Well, predictably, we did not clear the water. Beginning to think the yardages they list aren’t totally accurate.
#7 – The hardest hole on the course, you do not want to go left, as even being on the left side of the fairway gives you no chance to go at the green, thanks to the massive trees. Fortunately, our massive slice that we picked up on Sunday came in handy and we are way right. Smart golf to avoid those trees. After hacking out of the heather, chipping up and two putting, we move on. Oh wait, forgot to mention that we yanked our first tee shot way left into the hazard that fronts 6-green. Hate it when I forget those shots.
#8 – We have no recollection of this hole, other than the wind started to pick up. That will become a theme for the remainder of the round.
#9 – As we head toward the clubhouse, we hit a solid drive, leaving us about 150 yards in. It’s difficult to say exactly how far, as the sprinkler head that reads 152 yards from the green was about 8 yards closer to the green than the marker that read 150 yards. So, we left our shot short, chipped up and putted twice.
As we make the turn, a group of 6 was scarfing down hot dogs and miller Lites as if they won’t be allowed to eat or drink for the rest of their life, and fortunately waved us through.
#10 – As we reach the 10th tee, the course marshal greets us during his cigarette break. Such a friendly place. A par 4 with a dogleg left with water and bunkers around the green, we manage to scratch out a par and we’re ready to make a run on the back.
#11 – Par 5 with a long carry off the tee just to reach the fairway, which we did not accomplish. We’ll blame the increasing wind, and not our 74-mph club head speed. Complicating our approach was the distraction of a truck carrying port-a-johns behind the green, clearly getting set up for the US Open qualifier being played here next week. Despite the massive hit to our ego, and the distractions of portable toilets, we played the remainder of the hole well for back to back pars. Alert the media, we’re going low.
#12 – The scorecard says, “a fairly long par 3”. In reality, this was a 215-yard par 3 playing into a 20-mph wind. We hit our 3-wood perfectly, and the ball ended up 40 yards short of the green. Are we sure this wasn’t a 315-yard par 3?!?
#13 – Dogleg right par 5 which can be reached if you cut the corner on your tee shot. Sadly, we didn’t even reach the corner. Remember that 20-mph wind? It’s increased. We hit driver, three-wood, 6-iron and didn’t get to the green.
#14 – With the now 35-mph wind at our backs, we take a hyper-aggressive line off the tee, which negated the wind advantage by landing in the heather. We scrambled and actually made a decent putt on this hole, which might have been the only thing saving us from snapping a club in half. Well, that, and we don’t have anywhere near the strength to snap a club in half.
#15 – All we remember out this hole is that it was back into the wind and it did not go well. We will note that we really appreciate the tee boxes being aerated. That’s not something you see at most courses. Again, the little touches make all the difference.
#16 – The wind was at its peak on 16, which is listed on the card as 320 yards. We hit one of our most solid drivers of the day, and still have 140 yards into the green. You read that correctly. So, we club up and hit a 6-iron. And it didn’t reach the green.
#17 – Another long par 3, the pin was 191 from the tips, but this time we have the wind at our backs. So, for the sake of efficiency, let’s just hit the 6-iron again. Again, hit it great and it ends up over the green in a bunker. So, to recap. On one hole, our 6-iron went approximately 130 yards. On the following hole, it went over 200 yards. How am I supposed to golf with this going on?!?
#18 – With condolences to the 18th at Carnoustie, the finishing hole at Eagle Glen is the toughest in all of golf. Throw in a 58-mph wind blowing across the fairway, and finding the tiny fairway is impossible. It’s especially impossible if you are incapable of hitting the ball far enough to reach the fairway. Driver, followed by 3-wood, and we are 120 yards out in the heather on the right side of the fairway. That’s not how the scorecards tells you to play the hole, by the way. We managed to punch a 7-iron out and find the green and finish the day with a two-putt bogey as the rain made its appearance.
It was a long, challenging day on the links of Eagle Glen, so we make our way into Eagle’s Landing Bar and Grill to sign our scorecards and rehash the round over another gourmet meal. As the microwave buzzer goes off for our hot dogs, we scour the full bar and try to decide between a Black & Mild, CBD oil packet, Slim Jims, Rolaids or some of America’s finest fermented beverages. Ultimately, we decide to pay homage to the great links of Scotland and order a Budweiser. (Ed. Note – the “large selection of IPA beer” included…Bell’s Two Hearted. Which they did have a large quantity of.)
While the scores won’t be anything we brag out, the experience Eagle Glen provided us was one we will never forget. The course would be difficult in calm conditions, but throw in hurricane force winds, and it’s not a matter of scoring well. It’s a matter of survival. Well, we survived.
Hangover Rating: 3 Budweisers and a large selection of IPA Beer.