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By Don Vanderveen

For those who want to experience a private country club setting, Boulder Creek Golf Club fits the bill to a tee.

And to the green.

Okay, so there is no pool or tennis courts. There aren’t any yearly dues or monthly minimums, either.

But the conditions and amenities — from a diverse practice facility, to continuous concrete cart paths meandering around the plush bentgrass fairways and greens, to available locker rooms and showers, to a full-service restaurant that offers fine dining — puts Boulder Creek on par with its private country club counterparts.

“ We try to provide a country club atmosphere and friendliness similar to having your own club,” Boulder Creek general manager Jerry Roberson said. “We try to give the type of amenities that come from a country club atmosphere as far as the service we provide.”

The golf experience at Boulder Creek is outstanding and diverse. The front side and back side of this 18-hole championship golf course, which measures 6,850 from the back tees and 6,035 from the front, has about as much contrast as a driver and a wedge.

A round at Boulder Creek is like playing two distinctly different courses. The front side winds through woods and valleys. The back is more of a links type setting with water accenting several holes.

“ People who play here enjoy the variety of holes and the different elevations,” Roberson said. “We have some unique holes.

“ You can get into trouble, but you can score pretty well on this course also.

“ People who enjoy golf don’t want to go out on a course to get beat up, and Boulder Creek gives them an opportunity to score on a championship type course. There have been some good scores posted here.”
The concrete cart paths that meander all the way around the course provide a beautiful upscale look and an even smoother ride.

“ People like the difference between front nine and back nine,” Roberson said. “The front is tree lined with tighter fairways, while the back nine is much more open with rolling fairways and contours.
“ It makes for two different types of nines that are fun and unique to play.”

It also requires different types of course management and strategy from one side to another. The front side requires accuracy to keep it between the trees and other hazards.

Head professional Mike Mikowski provides players a tour guide (on paper, of course) to give some pointers for getting around during the round.

“ You have to have your accuracy in tune more on the front,” Mikowski advises. “You don’t have the area to spray it all over, so you’ll want to hit some balls before you go out.”

An opening hole offers birdie opportunities before crossing underneath a roadway to a course that is mostly tree-lined and puts a premium on accuracy and club selection. Two par-5s are reachable in two with the proper placement off the tee.

No hole on the course provides as much satisfaction — or aggravation — as the 414-yard No. 5. An uphill dogleg right with trees on the left requires a fade from the tee. But be careful, a slice will end up in jail on the right. The fun part — if the tee shot is negotiated properly — is shooting a downhill shot to the green. Par on this hole is an awesome accomplishment.

On the back side, big hitters can let it fly. There are several scenic holes with water serving more as a backdrop than a hazard. The views from the tees on this side range from good to spectacular.

No. 17, which measures 360-yards from the black tees, 332 from the blue and 315 from the white, is a two-tiered fairway that requires a target shot off the tee in order to hit the landing area for a 100-yard shot at the flag.

The winds may change and swirl, creating havoc with some shots at Boulder Creek. But there is one thing that remains constant: the condition of the course and upkeep is immaculate.

“ Overall, it is a very friendly golf course with generous fairways and landing areas,” Mikowski said. “People are amazed at the condition of the course and how well groomed it is. It has matured very well.”
As a result, there is a lot of repeat business of people coming back time and time and again — not only because they enjoy playing the course, according to Roberson, but because of the way they are treated and the things that go along with experiencing this country club atmosphere.

The Practice & Learning Facility at Boulder Creek offers over 60,000 square feet of hitting surface. Here, golfers can work on their short games and hitting out of bunkers, as well as putting and hitting drives and iron shots into target greens.

“ At most facilities, the practice facility is an afterthought,” teaching professional Amy Summers said. “Here at Boulder Creek, they had an outstanding practice facility in mind when they built the course.”
The centralized location of the practice area allows easy and unfettered access to work on all parts of the golf game that need fine tuning.

“ The practice tee pads allow people to work on their games without worrying about other people working on their games,” Summers said. “It gives them privacy they’d like to have and more undivided attention when taking lessons.”

“ The short game area to the side of the range allows people to practice chipping and work from the bunker with a bucket of balls, and then they can collect them and go hit full iron or wood shots at the range,” Summer said. “It allows them to practice on all aspects of their game if that’s what their goal is.”

Practice memberships are available, as well as some of the better teaching professionals in West Michigan.

“ Because of the location, people can come practice during their lunch hours,” Summers said. “We have people coming just to use the range.”

And after a practice session or round of golf, there’s few things more relaxing than a finely prepared meal.The grand clubhouse — which offers a full complement of fine dining, pro shop and banquet facility — sets Boulder Creek boldly apart.

“ We have everything golfers want, and they can come here and enjoy all aspects of golf from practicing or playing, having dinner or lunch or a very nice pro shop to buy everything they need,” Roberson said.

Just like at the country club.

   
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