OKEMOS, Mich.(Dec.7, 2005)—Architect W. Bruce Matthews III says it’s not always easy to see the possibilities for a golf course when he visits a potential building site. But he knew after his first visit to Vicksburg, Michigan, what an opportunity he and his firm would have at Angels Crossing Golf Club. This week, after its first full season of operation, Angels Crossing was chosen as the #6 "Best New Affordable" course in America for 2005 by Golf Digest magazine and was the only Michigan course recognized in the category.
"The site had scores of different elements that would lend themselves to a diverse design," says Matthews, a member of American Society of Golf Course Architects. "The land has ridges, rolls, wetlands, as well as a bona fide Michigan prairie, all of which give it a ‘sense of place’ so valued by golfers."
Located minutes south of Kalamazoo in southwest Michigan, Angels Crossing is the centerpiece of a golf and real estate development that is both a sporting and civic success. Commissioned after the closing of the Fox River Paper Company mill, Angels Crossing has helped to revitalize Vicksburg, which lost nearly a quarter of its local tax base when the mill was forced to close in 2001. The closing left hundreds of area workers without jobs, and it left the village with a feeling that only more bad times were to come.
Thankfully, Matthews’ design has helped attract golfers from all parts of Michigan, as well as those from neighboring states. Its wide, expansive look and huge undulating greens have become favorites among golfers who have played the course. "People love that it’s a course that has space off the tee, but has green sites that require a lot of thought to handle. We’ve successfully implemented centuries-old design elements even though all the holes have a straightforward way about them," Matthews notes.
More importantly, Matthews believes Angels Crossing allows golfers to experience golf on a grand scale, despite a combined green and golf cart fee of under $45. "I think the key to golf growth in the next decade depends on how the industry attracts golfers for whom a $100 green fee is out of reach," he explains. "I’m proud that Golf Digest has recognized Angels Crossing as a great new course that offers such a vigorous test for an amount of money most golfers can afford."
A graduate of Michigan State University, W. Bruce Matthews III has designed courses throughout Michigan and Ontario, Canada, from his home base of Okemos, Michigan. His website is www.matthewsgolf.org. Angels Crossing is located about six miles west of US-131 in southern Kalamazoo County and is eight miles south of Interstate-94 off Portage Road. Its website is www.golfangelscrossing.com.