(South Haven, Michigan)—For decades this southwest Michigan resort town on the shores of Lake Michigan has been a favorite destination for travelers from throughout the Midwest. In 2007, South Haven will celebrate the first full year of operation of the Beeches Golf Club, a residential development and 18-hole championship golf course designed by award-winning Michigan architect W. Bruce Matthews III.
"South Haven is a wonderful town and community whose population swells each summer with visitors from southeast Michigan, Indiana and metropolitan Chicago," said Matthews. "But until now, it’s been one of the few areas in the Great Lakes region where there’s been both room and the need for more courses and affordable golf. I think we’ve done well on providing both at the Beeches."
The club’s name is taken from the scores of beech trees found on the property, including a majestic giant beech that sits in close proximity to the clubhouse and 18th green. "That tree was the unmistakable centerpiece of the property," says General Manager Jason Fargo. "Bruce realized it immediately and wanted to use it as both a strategic and aesthetic focal point of the golf course."
The front nine of the Beeches includes the tricky par-four third, a hole of only 320 yards that is bordered the entire distance of the hole on the left by the first of six large ponds on the property. Matthews has also made good use of sandy waste areas throughout the course that add teeth to the test. The back nine incorporates most of the rest of the water on the course and finishes with the 420-yard 18th, where the green is guarded to the right by another pond. "It’s a challenging but pleasing way to end the round," says Matthews. "The giant beech frames the hole on the left, and the water on the right means players will have to be on their best behavior when they approach this green!" Matthews says the Beeches will also boast a third nine holes in the years ahead.
With five sets of tees, the Beeches Golf Club ranges in length from forward tees of 5,005 yards to 7,115 from the back tees. "Because of our close proximity to Lake Michigan, we didn’t feel the need to load the design with a lot of obstacles," says Fargo. "The changing winds provide the variety in playability for us." Best of all, says Fargo, is that Matthews’ thoughtful design will allow the club to operate with an affordable rate structure for its visitors. "It was important for us to build a course people around here can always afford to play," he says. "The initial response we’ve had from patrons is that we’ve done very well in that regard."
In its first phase, Beeches will also feature 22 residential condominiums with golf course views. "We’ve been amazed at the enthusiastic interest in the property," says Fargo. "It’s indicative of the growing popularity of the South Haven area."
The Beeches Golf Club is W. Bruce Matthews III’s first Michigan design since Angels Crossing in Vicksburg, a course that received national recognition from Golf Digest magazine two years ago. More information on 2007 rates and the residential development is available at (269) 637-2600 or through the club’s web site, www.beechesgolfclub.com.
Terry Moore, All About Golf
Tom Cleary, All About Golf