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Gems of Michigan: Crystal Lake Golf Club Beulah, MI
by Jim Neff

The purpose of this column is to discover the "hidden gems" of Michigan golf, courses that are bargains to play but might not get the publicity they deserve. In order to qualify as a "hidden gem," a course must be in excellent condition, have greens fees for $30 or less for eighteen holes, and must allow players to walk.

Crystal Lake Golf Club is absolute golf nirvana. Perched on the ridges east of the Village of Beulah on U.S. 31 in northwestern lower Michigan, the course overlooks one of the most spectacular lakes in the state, the blue/green hues of Crystal Lake. That combined with a meticulously groomed layout, greens to die for, and a midweek rate of $25 for eighteen holes ($20 for fifty-and-over), this is as close to golf perfection as it gets.

The front side is the older of the two nines, once the site of a fruit orchard. Several stands of fruit trees mingle with hardwoods and pines to give the nine a classic flair. Perhaps the most difficult thing about the front side is reading the greens. These babies are manicured jigsaw puzzles, tough to figure but loads of fun. Here's a hint: Everything rolls to the lake. You'll also probably find number nine memorable because at 577 yards it's one of the most "relentless" finishing holes in the region.

On the back nine, the fairways are tighter, there are more dogleg holes, and some severe gullies bisect several fairways. Clearly, while the front nine's greens are more difficult, the back nine's shot making challenges are more diverse. Together, the two nines make for a very formidable day.

At just under 6400 yards, Crystal Lake is a dandy course to walk. One advantage to walking is that you might sneak upon some wildlife; we saw a white tail deer on the first tee last July.

After a round, be sure to take the time to sit on the deck of the clubhouse/restaurant and marvel at the vista. You can literally see for twenty miles on a clear day, over the rooftops of the village and the length of Crystal Lake.

For current rates and tee times, call 616/882-4061.

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