Prichard/ Photography by Michael Buck
The Civil War
Battle of Vicksburg sealed the fate of
the Confederate Army in May 1863. Vicksburg,
Mich. was in a battle of a different sort
when the state’s largest paper mill
surrendered to a changing economy nearly
140 years later.
the closing of the Fox River Paper Co.
mill in April
2001 triggered a series of events that
culminate in May 2004 with the opening
of Angels Crossing Golf Club.
The general of the Kalamazoo County revival is
Schoolcraft Township supervisor Bob Thompson.
His lieutenants: third generation golf course
architect and designer W. Bruce Matthews, III,
the “dean” of Michigan golf course
superintendents, Roger Barton, and Bob’s
Barton is a 38-year golf industry veteran and
three-time president of the Western Michigan
Chapter of the Golf Course Superintendents Association
of America, serving stints at Grand Haven Golf
Club, Blythfield CC and Dearborn CC. Jim was
controller of Clearbrook CC in Saugatuck and
helped oversee the development of The Ravines
Golf Club. Matthews’ legend is renown and
growing. Angels Crossing is his first signature
course, so pleased is he with his work at the
Matthews drew upon his vast knowledge and respect
of golf course designers-past to quilt a collection
of golf holes and green complexes not heretofore
played in Michigan, nor anywhere for that matter.
The course is unique in every aspect, measuring
4,845 yards from the forward tees to 7,169 yards
from the championship markers. No one hole has
any resemblance to another.
The serious student of the game will recognize
several design techniques and styles. The Willy
Dunn-inspired number six hole, a par 3 of 196
yards, features a green measuring 200 feet from
front to back with a famed biarritz swale coursing
the green’s center.
The par-3 sixteenth hole is fashioned after Alister
MacKenzie’s 16th hole at Cypress Point,
minus the Pacific Ocean. The par-3 twelfth hole
is a 258-yard (from the tips) redan, where the
green has a four-foot slope from front to back
and is fortified by a gaping left-side bunker.
Matthews added numerous personal traits, too,
like the tri-segmented green at number ten that
will make this par 4 a bit more difficult than
it’s 383-yard length implies.
Lest you be mistaken, Thompson didn’t get
into the golf business because he fashioned himself
an owner wishful of building the next “must
play” course in Michigan. He did it for
We lost 23 percent of our tax revenue when the
mill closed. Something had to be done,” said
Thompson. The result of his actions is an upscale
golf course that anyone can walk on and play
for less than $40 for eighteen holes with cart.
Eighteen of the holes are private with only
five building sites in view. An additional
will feature residential lots complementing
an equally motivated Matthews’ design.