By Don Vanderveen
Golf & Resort is a beacon of light for
golf traditionalists in West Michigan.
It is a golf course that plays straight
and honest. It is secluded from the hustle
and bustle of the city, but is easily accessible for those not wanting to go
far to get away.
It sometimes plays easy. It sometimes plays
difficult. It always is challenging.
This is a straight forward, honest course,” superintendent
Pete Thomasma claims. “It was built before
all the mounding and special routing became part
of golf course design.”
A Jerry Matthews-designed golf course, Candlestone
opened to the public in 1977. Located adjacent
to state owned land, Candlestone provides a peaceful,
quiet country setting for a golf course.
At that period of my life, it was one of the better
sites I had come across,” Matthews said. “It’s
still a wonderful site for a golf course.”
Three sets of tees at Candlestone constitute
distances of 6,692 yards from the blue, 6,227
from the white
and 5,546 from the red. Don’t be fooled by
the yardage. This course plays longer than it appears
on the scorecard — and even longer when the
wind is blowing.
The 18 holes on this par-72 course provide a
different look from hole to hole and is a challenging
It is a good test of golf,” Thomasma says. “It
plays longer than the yardage might indicate because
of one short par-5 and a couple short par-3s, but
all in all it can give someone all they want in
a golf course.”
Thomasma is on mission of continually striving
to upgrade the condition of the golf course.
He claims it is a labor of love.
This is a great golf course and deserves to be
in the very best condition it can be,” Thomasma
Candlestone starts with a fairly straight
forward and open No. 1 hole. It is just 377
the back, 358 from the middle and 339 from
From that point, the course begins to wind
through the woods, wetlands and marshes and
The unmistakable scent of pine and soft barriers
of blue spruce provide a pristine setting
in the middle of the course. The quiet — except
for a bird chirping here and there — puts
one at ease and in touch with his or her surroundings.
It has a real natural feel to it,” Matthews
says. “The wetlands and native grasses are
natural. They are there by accident, and they make
it work. Nowadays, those types things are deliberately
planned into course development.”
Despite those gentle undertones, it does
not necessarily mean it will be a walk
in the park
The layout of the course allows for bump-and-run
shots to the stick. There are no bunkers
guarding the greens.
It’s set up a lot like golf courses in Scotland
where the winds blow every which way,” Thomasma
said. “It allows for shots that can be rolled
up to the green instead of having to make target
shots at the flag.”
Candlestone is a test to one’s endurance.
As enjoyable and relaxing as the first 14 holes
can be, the final four can eat someone’s
The “home stretch” consists of four
of the more challenging finishing holes anyone
would want from a public course. It begins at No.
15 with a par-3 that is over 200 yards long. After
that, a long par-5 with a tiered green is waiting,
followed by two par-4 holes that play well over
400 yards apiece — and usually into the wind.
They are four of the most challenging finishing
holes you’ll find for miles,” Thomasma
boasts. They are four reasons why Candlestone has
been the annual host site for the West Michigan
After finishing a round of golf, Chef
O has some tasty delights awaiting
golfers at Bogie’s,
Candlestone’s full-service clubhouse restaurant.
The menus at the restaurant have changed considerably
over the years — and Chef O has come and
gone and returned once again — but one thing
remains constant: Candlestone continues to be one
of West Michigan’s more enjoyable and affordable
public golf courses.