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The Loop Golf Course Review


The Loop Golf Course Review

A Must Play... Twice

By Brian Weis

When I first heard of Tom Doak's reversible 18 hole course in Northern Michigan fellow, I thought the perfect name of the course would be "The pallidrome." For those who might have slept through Freshman English class a palindrome is a word that is the same forwards and backwards. For example, civic, level or noon.

After playing the course(s), I understand why they did not use that nomenclature. While the courses share the same property at no time did I feel like I played the same holes or course.

The Courses
The Loop features 18 greens and tee boxes that can be played from different directions. The Black course plays clockwise while the Red plays counter clockwise. The course flips every other day. Most of the holes you play after 1 and 18 are hard to recognize because the entry points to greens, the sight lines and par for the hole changes.

The Red course plays counter close wise around the loop, starting right of the 18th green and playing toward the red flag in the distance. There are red flags on the front and white flags on back in case get to the tee box and not sure where to go. Unsure were to go...keep going right. The Red course is more traditional as the starting holes give you a chance to warm up. The challenge begins at the middle stretch - holes 8-11. The course builds to four strong/difficult final holes.

The black course plays clockwise around the loop. Less traditional as the course starts tough and softens to a fair finish. The stretch from holes 4-8 provide some birdie chances. The middle stretch 9-16 lengthens. Holes 17/18 ends with a short par 5 and par 4.

The courses flow from green to fairway with no defined tee boxes. Take note when you are checking sprinkler heads, 2 yardages appear. The numbers in red are for (you guessed it) the Red course while the yardage in white are for the Black course. Distances posted are to center of greens.

Walking to the first tee with PGA Pro and host for the day Elliott Oscar recommended we not play the back tees 6704. I started to lick my chops as we jumped up to the middle tees playing only 6078 yards. But then noticed it was a par 70 (5 par 3's and 3 par 5's) I would later thank Elliott for his recommendation.

Elliott Oscar shared Commonly Asked Questions by Guests.

Why did they ruin Michigan's #1 golf course Forest Dunes by making it reversible?
The Loop is a separate golf course located adjacent to Forest Dunes. The loop is its only stand-alone course that can be played one day as the Black course and next day as the red.

What is the point of a reversible course?
The reversible course gives our property three golf courses on the footprint of 2. Forest Dunes is slightly off the beaten path for golfers coming to surrounding destinations. With new lodging options, we now have 96 beds (rental homes, large villas and lodge rooms) Forest Dunes is now its own golf destination.

Why do you think Tom Doak built the golf course this way?
Architect Tom Doak has been planning a course like this for quite some time but needed the right piece of land, and a forward thinking owner. He is not the first architect to tackle this feat, as St Andrew's Old Course is a reversible 18. (however not commonly played both ways due to recent renovations.)

The Loop is a course modeled after heathland style golf. Firm and fast conditions and Tom Doak forces you play the front of greens and run up areas. Best to calculate yardage to front of green rather than to pins.

Tom Doak was quoted saying they were the firmest greens he played. Because greens needed to be played in 2 directions most greens are domed and need to run up. Either low flighted wedges or bump and run plays. If go long will need to master the Texas wedge or putt with a hybrid. Even with a 60 degree wedge, the tight lies and slick greens do not generate enough spin to hold the greens.

This style favors higher handicap, seniors and women as ball flights come in lower and generally land in front of the green.

It is a perfect fit for Forest Dunes as the course is slightly off the beaten path not conveniently located for those going to popular golf destinations like Gaylord. The vision for Lew Thompson was to build a destination complete with several golf courses and lodging. Today we have xxx rooms with lodges and private rentals along with 3 courses. Since the soft opening in August (2017) golfers have been flocking to play our courses over 2 days or a long weekend.

What Else Do You Need To Know?
1) To play the loop both red and white will need to play in consecutive days. Cannot conquer the quest in the same day.
2) The courses are walking only. Push carts and caddies are available. It truly is an enjoyable walk.
3) Forest Dunes and the loop are drastically different courses. Forest Dines is aptly named as the first half is played through the forest dotted with bully bunker white sand traps then the back nine opens up to links style course outlined with natural sand dunes apes and blowouts.

Where is The Loop located?
The loop is located across the clubhouse parking lot but has a completely different vibe. As you step foot on first tee it had a North Carolina vibe with The course backdropped with coniferous pines. The holes are outlined with Fescue grasses and rugged terrain.

Tom Doak's Favorite Hole On The Loop

Tom Doaks favorite holes on Black is the driveable par 4th hole from middle tees play is a 320 yard down hill/down wind. A small speed slot on the left will give the only look at green as balls to the right or wide left brings pot bunkers into play. A bombed tee ball will funnel through the mounding and onto a green that runs away from you. The hole on the Red course (hole 14) plays as a mid ranged par 3 over waste to a bowled green.

Yardages of courses...
Par 70
6704, 6078, 4982

Par 70
6805, 6064,5006 yards

Publishers Note:
The Loop is a must play.... Twice!
Should have named the courses - the black and the blue - as it bruises high ball hitters not skilled/creative enough to run balls to pins.

Revised: 08/26/2019 - Article Viewed 799 Times - View Golf Course Profile

About: Brian Weis

Brian Weis Brian Weis is the Publisher of, a network of golf travel and directory sites including,,,, etc. Professionally, Brian is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA), International Network of Golf (ING), Golf Travel Writers of America (GTWA), International Golf Travel Writers Association (IGTWA) and The Society of Hickory Golfers (SoHG). In 2016, Brian won The Shaheen Cup, an award given to a golf travel writer by his peers.

All of his life, Brian has been around the game of golf. As a youngster, Brian competed at all levels in junior and high school golf. Brian had a zero chance for a college golf scholarship, so he worked on the grounds crew at West Bend Country Club to pay for his University of Wisconsin education. In his adult years, his passion for the game collided with his entrepreneurial spirit and in 2004 launched In 2007, the idea for a network of local golf directory sites formed and was born. Today, the network consists of a site in all 50 states supported by national sites like, and It is an understatement to say, Brian is passionate about promoting golf and golf travel on a local, regional, national and international level.

On the golf course, Brian is known as a fierce weekend warrior that fluctuates between a 5-9 handicap. With a soft fade, known as "The Weis Slice", and booming 300+ drives, he can blast it out of bounds with the best of them.

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