Crystal Downs
MI, USA

Eighth hole, 550 yards; A tumbling hole that doglegs right up a hill to a green placed on a ledge,its lumpy fairway never treats anyone to great favors but it does dictate the way. If the golfer can place his second shot long down the right side of the fairway, he is rewarded with an approach more on the same level as the green. From the left side, the approach shot is both distinctively more up hill and from a worse angle. Any weak approach shot to this green is guaranteed to roll ten to twenty yards back toward the golfer. Some consider this both MacKenzie’s and Maxwell’s finest three shotter.

The brilliant placement of the green atop a ledge makes the 8th hole a truly special three shotter.

Twelfth hole, 430 yards; Played across the most level property on the course, the green makes the hole as it slopes from front to back. Given that the hole generally plays downwind,those familiar with the courseunderstand to use the ground shy of the greenand run the ball onto the open green.

Bouncing a ball onto the 12th is the best play. The hole's benign appearance makes it a very underappreciated hole but its golf qualities are as high as any other hole on the course.

Thirteenth hole, 440 yards; As improbable of hitting the green in two as the 13th at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland,the greenwould not be built today, as people would cry unfair. It is high in front and drops off to a bowl back right. Still, unlike many modern greens, the golfer can picture what he is supposed to do from the fairway. Hitting a cut shot that catches the slope of the terrain in front and chases back toward the flag might be the most satisfying shot on the course.

As viewed from the tee, the 13th green follows the strong slope of the land from left to right.

Fourteenth hole, 140 yards; A wonderful compliment to the mugging at the 13th, this charming little holeplays to the smallest green (3,800 square feet) on the course.

In recent times, the Club wisely removed the trees and brush from behind the 14th. Now both the wind and the views of Sleeping Bear enhance the playing of the hole.

The 14th green is subtle - a putt to a back hole location is not as uphill as one might guess from this picture. The back portion of the green is actually fairly level.

Fifteenth hole, 320 yards; The back nine isroughly out and back and starting with the 15th tee ball, the golfer is likely to play the next several holes into the wind. Situatedovermore gently rolling terrain than many of the land forms on the front nine, the ideal drive leaves the golfer a level stance atop a hillock some 100 yards from the green.

The 15th fairway features 5- 8 foot rolls before arriving at the small-ish green, which falls away on all sides. Unlike the longest two shotters on the back (the 12th and 13th), the architects didn't provide any help to the golfer in having his ball gather onto the green.

Seventeenth hole, 310 yards; Far from a classic,the 17this scintillating nonetheless. The golfer has to figure how to place his ball in a right to left sloping fairway (that almost doesn’t exist, let’s face it). A 25-mph wind blowing up the chute of trees makes the shot harder than the golfermay wish at this point in his match.

Looking down the 17th to the tiny green.

Though the tee shot is the more dramatic shot, the pitch to the horizon green is almost as nerve-wracking.

The two sides at Crystal Downs are of distinctly different character, with the front on open, tumbling land and the back through the trees. However, this course fares much better than other famous Jekyll and Hyde courses like Spyglass Hill. The short 11th hole is a wonderful introduction into the wooded nature of the next six holes while the exposed 17th green is an inspiring re-introduction to the more open landscape.

Crystal Downs is one of a coupledozen courses in the world that combines an inspiring setting with first class architecture. Those who know it best don’t clearly prefer any other course to it in part because they feel like they learn something new each and everytime they play it. And that isa very short list of courses for which the same can be said.

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