Golf Course Review: Greywalls at Marquette Golf Club (MI)

Saturday morning of our U.P. golf trip began with a delicious two dollar breakfast at the Firekeeper’s Lounge in The Island Resort and Casino. Our golf package included a plethora of coupons which could be used for one meal per day, a drink and five dollars in slot credits per day.
After breakfast, Mitch and I made our way up north to Marquette. About an hour and twenty minutes away, it was an easy drive and we found ourselves at Marquette Golf Club quickly enough.
As a word of advice, “Greywalls” does not come up on GPS devices, so make sure to enter “Marquette Golf Club” for directions to the course.
The entrance to the property is a little confusing. I have been hearing for years about mountainous terrain with unbelievable elevation and pristine course conditions. The entrance, though, showed the rolling terrain of the Heritage Course, designed by William Langford eight years after he and Theodore Moreau designed the Links Course at Lawsonia.
I was uncertain we were at the right place, but we continued up the driveway past the quaint clubhouse to the small pro shop. I asked the bag drop if we were at the right place, and he replied that we were and that Greywalls is actually a short golf cart drive away.
The driving range and practice facility are minimal at this time, but Head Golf Professional Marc Gilmore informed me that plans are in the works for new facilities that will be dedicated solely to Greywalls’ course and location. With a down economy, this could be a couple years in the distance, but will happen soon enough.
I cannot say enough how much it would mean to this area’s economy to get the mines opened up again. I will avoid getting on any conservative soap boxes at this time, though.
Marc was incredibly accommodating with our group, setting up hole contests for long drives and putts, and closest to pins on par threes and fours. He and his staff are some of the nicest, most welcoming golf professionals I have met since starting this venture.
While Marc is seemingly soft-spoken and welcoming, the course is not. We left the practice facility about fifteen minutes prior to our first tee time, and began the journey to the legend that would become Greywalls.
Down a long, meandering pathway, the drive led us through dense woods and around bends, up hills and to our first view of the championship course. We stopped beyond the green of the seventh hole, where Marc had us check out the location of the 150-yard marker in the middle of a steep downhill embankment that was littered with rock cliffs and drastic fairway mounding. This is the only 150-yard marker that is not visible from the tee boxes.
My friend, Greg, got out of his cart and asked me if my shorts were still clean. Gross, sure, but almost a valid question considering the circumstances.
Greywalls is “wild and wooly,” Marc explained, and we would find out all about that as the round progressed. Designed by Mike DeVries, the course opened seven years ago and has deservedly received high acclaim from golf critics and enthusiasts, including a number two ranking among public courses in the state of Michigan.
Very little of the 1830’s gold and silver mine land was moved in the cultivation of this course, which is noticeable in every aspect of its layout and results in impressive character that is like nothing I had ever seen.
We got back in the carts and made our way up and around a sharp hill, arriving at the starter’s building and snack shop that is located between the first and tenth hole tee boxes.
If the green area of the seventh hole was not impressive enough, the view from the tiny practice green located here took my breath away. Overlooking deep woods and Lake Superior on the horizon, the vista from this vantage point sprawls seemingly forever.
The picture-taking began. I would go on to take 164 of them, and almost all are frame-worthy. This is not intended to say anything about my photography skills, but instead speaks volumes of the incredible scenery and natural beauty of Greywalls and its terrain and layout.
Putting green at Greywalls
The practice green is quick. Not quite as quick as the greens at Sweetgrass, but very fast… This could be a long day.
My group would tee off first, and the driving area on one is intimidating. A huge downhill landing area is substantially mounded and runs from left to right. It seems we are at the top of the world. Do not be intimidated by this tee shot, though. Swing away with all you’ve got. Find the fairway and then hit anything in the bag that goes straight. The downhill fairway will carry it as long as it needs to go.
Hole 1: Par 5 (579/545/509/477/416)
Look back to the tee boxes on hole 1
Hole 1: Par 5 (579/545/509/477/416)
This is where the first hole gets tricky: The green is highly elevated over its front entrance, and a back pin location was just a few yards from a sharp drop-off to a backside deposit area. The green on one is representative of most at Greywalls: Extreme mounds and edges that will shepherd misread or over-hit putts off the putting surfaces.
Hole 1: Par 5 (579/545/509/477/416)
Two is one of the trickiest holes on the course. Look for the 150-yard marker in the middle of the fairway, and hit to it. Do not get greedy on this tee shot, as the right side drops off severely to the woods, and even if it does hold will leave no shot at the green. With a front-left pin location, the green was quite possibly impossible. The green sweeps from a high left side vertically down to the front right. A huge hollow fronts the right side of the green, and a tall mound defends the left side. I actually hit a drawn eight-iron to this mound during my second attempt at the hole. The ball almost stopped on the side of the mound, rolled slowly down right to the front-left putting surface, then down the hill and off the right side of the green entirely. Do not expect to hit this green in regulation; just be happy if you’re close and hope to one-putt!
Hole 2: Par 4 (425/397/364/322/287)
Hole 2: Par 4 (425/397/364/322/287) at dusk
Three is the first of the par threes at Greywalls, and features a medium-length tee shot over a waste area to a green that is defender by sand and a disaster of a back-side that leaves an almost impossible chip. The sand here is dark – the U.P. sand minerals look almost like stone – but it is actually quite soft and playable.
Hole 3: Par 3 (174/164/146/115/94)
Hole 3: Par 3 (174/164/146/115/94) at dusk
Look to the right of the hole on the third green and see what looks to be the most intimidating tee shot of your life. The fourth hole tee boxes are elevated, and the entire left side is bordered by woods and steep cliffs. A mammoth hill in the middle of the fairway leads to a lower right side fairway, though, that can be played and provides bailout for a soft fade. Use this area, as anything left will not be found on the hillside.
Hole 4: Par 4 (425/379/316/256/256)
While the tee shot on four is intimidating, the tee boxes on five offer a mere sliver of an entrance to a highly elevated fairway that runs softly right to left and provides no room for error. A huge cliff wall makes up the left side of this entrance, but can be carried for an effective tee shot. Driving up the hill to the fairway affords a beautiful view of a green that is guarded on the right side by a majestic rock wall. At just 312 yards from the granite tees, this hole is very scorable if played from the fairway.
Hole 5: Par 4 (312/312/284/251/158)
Hole 5: Par 4 (312/312/284/251/158)
Hole 5: Par 4 (312/312/284/251/158)
Be prepared to be awed by the sixth hole. This is, quite simply, the most beautiful par three I have ever seen. Bar none. At 178 yards from the highly elevated tee boxes, the tee shot plays over a deep chasm that must be carried, to a putting surface that is just two feet above the tee boxes (from the black and blue tees; the white tees would be much more difficult here as the tee shot is then considerably uphill and blind).
I am only guessing here, but the canyon between the tees and green must be close to a hundred feet deep. I would be very interested in knowing what the actual depth is. What I do know is that this hole is absolutely stunning, and pictures do not do it justice. If the tee shot is not harrowing enough, the green breaks as heavily as any other on the course.
Hole 6: Par 3 (188/178/151/137/85)
Hole 6: Par 3 (188/178/151/137/85)
This stretch of holes on the front nine at Greywalls is without a doubt the single most incredible stretch of golf holes I have ever played. Almost every hole has a wow factor that caught me off guard again and again, and I found myself instinctively laughing at the absolute glory that was on display.
The seventh is another great example of this wow factor. The elevated tee boxes look out over a huge fairway that is littered with random cliff and rock formations.
Hole 7: Par 4 (489/432/347/347/304)
Greywalls is majestic and beautiful, but far from fair. Great shots to the fairway are likely to hit rock faces or cliffs, and bounce in any direction, or settle in deep collection areas at the bottom of ten foot tall fairway mounds leaving blind shots from the short grass. Even lies are rarely found, and shots from the fairway are typically played above or below in the stance.
The second shot on the seventh is played down a steep hill that is again beset with large rock surfaces. Avoid this area at all costs, and hope instead for a solid shot over it all to the green.
Eight looks tight from the tee boxes, with woods left and fairway traps and fescue right. It is more open than it looks, though, as the right side is fairly playable, and errant shots hit there can be easily found. Avoid the traps on each side of the bunker here for any chance of par.
I put my drive down the fairway, and was so relieved I forgot my camera on the rocks behind the granite tee boxes. Thunder and lightning was starting to build. The skies were dark, and rain was soon on the way.
Nine ends this unbelievable stretch of holes on the front side of Greywalls. With elevated tee boxes, Lake Superior was again visible on the horizon. The tenth hole fairway can be used for bailing out. The approach here is as delicate as any at Greywalls. The left side of the green area drops off in to almost oblivion, and the right side is lined with tall pines that we would use to wait out thirty minutes of our impending storm delay.
Hole 9: Par 4 (389/389/358/284/284)
Hole 9: Par 4 (389/389/358/284/284)
We were determined to finish off the front nine before taking shelter at the half-way house. This turned out to be a bad idea, as making the turn would mean our rain checks would be cut to nine holes. I drew a beautiful shot to the front of the green and three-putted up the steep vertical slope. We grabbed hot dogs and a beer, and stood under the tallest trees on the tallest point of the mountain. The hot dogs were delicious, by the way. You will not be disappointed in the concessions.
With everything else going on, I realized my camera was still on eight. I found it on the same rock I left it on, and although it was wet, it worked perfectly. It turns out I am lucky sometimes, after all.
A half hour in to the rain delay, we were welcomed in to the snack shop and found ourselves with the starter in a six by six room for an hour with the starter and eight guys from our group. It took another half hour to realize they had whiskey and beer for sale, and our moods then obviously started to elevate as we watched the weather forecast and warmed up.
After a front nine like that, there was no way anybody in our group would be content in heading back to Harris early. Besides, what good is a rain check for a course in the U.P. going to do us in mid-August?
We were happy to see the sun emerge for a minute or two, and soon after the rain came to a halt. My foursome hit the tenth hole tee box, and at last we got the back nine underway.
Ten can be played anywhere right of the rock walls that line the left side of the rough area. A false front runs downhill to the green, but adds ten to twenty yards to an approach that looks much easier than it is.
Hole 10: Par 4 (336/336/320/283/264)
Eleven is a fantastic, and challenging, golf hole. From extraordinarily high tee boxes, the fairway is mounded so drastically that no matter where the tee shot is hit, chances are there will be no view of the green. At 388 yards from the granite tees, there are eight sand traps in play. Drive to the fairway and then hope the second shot is headed in the right direction. The three greenside traps are deep, but the green is huge and can be easily blasted out to from them.
Hole 11: Par 4 (388/388/363/319/269)
Hole 11: Par 4 (388/388/363/319/269)
While the front nine of Greywalls winds through the old gold and silver mine and its cliffs and forests, the back nine is much more open and fair. I say this prior to telling you about a 463-yard par four, of course. The fairway on twelve is long and runs quickly downhill. Use it to get all the distance you can. As the yardage book explains, “This is a brute of a par four.”
Hole 12: Par 4 (491/463/382/350/350)
The green on the thirteenth is probably the toughest area of the hole. A 534-yard par five, it is mostly straight away, but can leave some extremely difficult putts on a putting surface that bends and breaks in all directions.
Hole 13: Par 5 (559/534/514/434/434)
The fourteenth gave our group some pretty big challenges. While the left side of the fairway provides the easiest approach to a tough green complex, the right side leaves a longer shot. My friend, John, found himself on the left side and started noticing something large moving in the bushes just feet from him. Startled, he noticed a two-foot-long porcupine moving through the brush in the opposite direction. Wild and wooly is right – or prickly. The green on fourteen is very highly perched above the approach area, and the only safe shot is to the middle.
Hole 14: Par 4 (449/449/414/401/319)
A long par three, the fifteenth sets up similarly to the third hole. Notice, though, that the wasteland in between drops significantly from the playing level to a deep canyon. This is not a hole to hit a tee shot fat on, like I did. At 202 yards from the granite tees, the third is much less intimidating after getting to the green area and seeing the twenty or thirty yards of fairway that leads to the green area. Don’t be afraid to use it.
Hole 15: Par 3 (240/202/179/129/129)
The tee shot on sixteen is primarily blind, and must be played left of the rock wall that builds up the right side of the fairway. The elevated green requires an extra club to hit, and runs long from front to back. The back side of the green falls off quickly, though, to a very deep sand trap and woods beyond.
Hole 16: Par 4 (371/371/349/319/282)
Hole 16: Par 4 (371/371/349/319/282)
Seventeen looks to be the simplest hole on the course at Greywalls. A short par three of just 137 yards from the granite tees, a lofted iron or wedge can be used, but must be played over the front side sand traps. The front-side pin location was just feet from a steep drop-off in the green that led off the back side.
Hole 17: Par 3 (137/137/121/94/94)
Eighteen is a return to the style of golf found on the front nine. With woods on both sides, the fairway drops downhill acutely. Hit a good drive on this par five (533 yards from the granite tees) to leave a second shot in the 250-280 range. From there, it is bombs away. Take the longest club in your bag on the approach, as the fairway and rough area widens to a hundred or more yards with no trouble to be found. Even if the green is reached, though, it runs 35 yards from left to right, and 32 from the front to back. Mitch hit this green in two, only to find a hundred-plus foot putt over a huge midway ridge that took four attempts to get in the hole.
Hole 18: Par 5 (533/533/463/442/369)
Hole 18: Par 5 (533/533/463/442/369)
As a side note, if you see smoke coming out of the hillside left of this green area, do not approach it. We were concerned by the site, and approached the smoke to make sure nothing was burning – what we found was the entrance of a den about two feet by two feet with smoke or heat of some kind coming out. I have no idea what was in that hole, and I was not about to stick around to find out.
In summation, Greywalls is unbelievable. At $130 a round for regular season rates, it is an expensive course but has options that make it more affordable. As I mentioned, everything in the U.P. is inexpensive. This includes season memberships at Michigan’s number two rated public golf course. U.P. residents can actually purchase unlimited season passes to Greywalls and their Heritage course for just $1,800! It is unbelievable the value that can be found in this fairly remote area.
I was pretty intimidated going in to our round at Greywalls. A friend of mine who is a far better golfer than I am told me that he shot a 104 his first time there, and another friend of ours’ (also a better golfer than me) actually shot a 120.
Needless to say, I was happy to keep my score under 100. I cannot wait to improve on that next season.

Course Wrap-Up:
Location: Marquette, MI
Yardage: Black-6828, Grey-6537, White-5908, Gold-5258, Red-4631
Slope/Rating: Black-144/73.0, Grey-138/70.7, White-130/68.2, Gold-118/67.0, Red-121/67.0
Par: 71
Weekend Rates (with cart): $130

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6 thoughts on “Golf Course Review: Greywalls at Marquette Golf Club (MI)

  1. This is a phenomenal course that has only matured and gotten better in the 5 years since this article was written. I encourage any golfer who is visiting the UP to visit this course. The grounds crew and proshop staff are excellent and accommodating. For 2017 the course has purchased all new rental carts that will be a big upgrade. They have encroached the greens on 1 and 14 with thicker fringe to make them easier for high handicappers as well as adding new bathroom facilities to the course and more stations for water.

    1. Couldn’t agree more – Greywalls is one of the most unique and exciting golf experiences found anywhere, and probably the most exciting in the Midwest

  2. For the first time here recently and considering I'm under 20, I shot a 117. The course is very breathtaking and the greens were very fast with many false fronts. I could not even make a one-putt out there that they were so fast. They even smelled a little weird. But there's not a lot of bunkers though on the front nine. But there's 36 of them. But you know there's 10 each on both holes 11 and 13.

    By the way 17 literally looked like a piece of cake from my view. It played 18 yards shorter so I had to face the front pin placement and my shot on that hole just went over the green, I chipped it on in two or three more shots cause of the false front. I ended up getting a 6 on a hole that would've been easy but has gone downhill. It was worse on the 2nd hole though as I four-putted that hole:(

    And for the 18th, there's really nothing difficult about it. It's narrow at one point but that green is a large flat target. And probably the mid-hitters would be able to get it on in two due to it being downhill.

    But really I did well on many holes but not so well on many holes too.

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