Forest Dunes Golf Club in Michigan Has New Owner

Forest Dunes Golf Club in Rosscommon, Mich., has new ownership determined to tap its potential as a golfing destination. The 1,300-acre club and its 7,141-yard course designed by Tom Weiskopf were recently acquired by Lew Thompson, a trucking company owner from Huntsville, Ark.

Thompson is no stranger to the golf industry. He is the managing member of a partnership that owns and operates The Bridges Golf & Country Club, a Jack Nicklaus-designed course in Montrose, Colo.

The new owner has already launched various projects to refurbish Forest Dunes. An architect has designed a 22-room hotel with four luxury suites; building plans will be submitted in January to township and county authorities for approval. The building will be attached to the existing 23,000-square-foot clubhouse, which has a spa, exercise area, member's locker rooms and a full-service restaurant and a separate bar and lounge.

"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 hotel's building site has been staked off and covered with straw to mitigate the ground freezing to give construction crews a fast start when winter breaks. 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 seven model homes on the property as well as 27-acre Lake AuSable, a place for fishing, canoeing and beach activities.

Thompson noted that superintendent Jim Bluck and head pro Donny Fisher will remain on staff.

Weiskopf, a former British Open champion and prolific golf course designer, has said that Forest Dunes is one of his three best efforts. Complementing the layout is a huge practice facility and a two-and-a-half-acre putting course.

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

The course, which is set within the 40,000-acre Huron National Forest, features white inland sand dunes and extensive tracts of sand. It's 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 Gold Signature Certification from the Audubon International organization, the only course in Michigan to achieve that distinction. There are only 21 other golf properties in the world with gold certification.

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