New par-three course completed at Forest Dunes

  • Dunes

    Riley Johns and Keith Rhebb have designed a new 10-hole, par-three course at Forest Dunes

  • Tain

    The 957-yard layout has holes measuring between 50 and 155 yards

  • Dunes

    The first (pictured) and tenth holes play across each other

  • Tain

    The course is scheduled to open on 31 July

Alex Smith
By Alex Smith

A new 10-hole par-three course at Forest Dunes Golf Club in Roscommon, Michigan, designed by golf course architects Riley Johns and Keith Rhebb has been completed following a year-long project.


The total length of the course is just over 1,000 yards, with individual holes measuring between 65 and 155 yards. The first and tenth play across each other.


Johns and Rhebb’s layout was built on land between Tom Doak’s 18-hole reversible ‘The Loop’ layout and the club’s original Tom Weiskopf-designed Forest Dunes course.


Lew Thompson, owner of Forest Dunes, appointed Johns and Rhebb to design a course that could be enjoyed by a wide range of players.


Lew’s goals and objectives were made perfectly clear from the first phone call,” said Johns. “He wanted the holes to be short, no longer than 150 yards, and most importantly – fun. He didn’t care how many holes it ended up being, or about the scorecard, or what the course would ultimately look like. He dreamt of a fun, hangout-type course where resort guests could unwind in the evening, sit by a fire, listen to music, and play as a fivesome in bare feet and t-shirt, cold beverages in hand.


“My personal favourite holes are the first, sixth and eighth,” said Johns. “I think the sixth in particular will be an interesting tee ball. The hole is essentially a bunkerless grassed half-pipe that plays around 100 yards downhill, providing what might be the best view on the entire property. Once the turf is established and playing firm, Keith and I suspect the weapon of choice will be the putter. It will be fascinating to watch what lines people choose.”


Read more: Riley Johns spoke to GCA about the design of the course last year, when construction had just started.


Johns and Rhebb were assisted in the shaping and construction by Joe Hancock, with the irrigation system designed by Don Mahaffey and Ian Williams. The project faced some difficulties because of the Covid-19 pandemic, delaying the opening of the new course until 31 July.


“The club had a tough time with staffing and resources like everyone else,” said Johns. “Growing-in a 10-hole short course and maintaining 36 holes all while being severely understaffed is not easy. A tip of the hat to the entire Forest Dunes turf team for pulling together and coming though.”


The October 2020 issue of Golf Course Architecture will include a report from Forest Dunes. Subscribe to make sure you receive a copy.