by Art McCafferty
The Dream, located in West Branch, couldn't be more aptly named.
It is a dream for course owners Tom and Dan Courtemanche; a dream for golf designer, Jeff Gorney, who feels this is one of his best works; a dream for the late superintendent Snuffy Bunting; and a dream of a course for Michigan golfers.
The Dream had its beginnings back in 1971 when the patriarch of the Courtemanche family, Art , selected new U of M grad, Bill Newcomb, to build Green Hills, an 18 hole course in Pinconning. It was the beginning of the career for one of the midwest's best golf architects.
The oldest son, Tom, now the superintendent for Green Hills worked on the project and was smitten by the process. It was during that construction process that The Dream started to materialize in his mind. He would one day build a great golf course.
Tom's brother Dan, now Green Hills General Manager, followed his father and brother into the golf and dream business as he grew older.
It was a dream for Jeff Gorney, an architect who continues to grow in stature in this state with his designs. Gorney's past work includes Fox Run CC, Grayling CC, Hill's Heart of the Lakes, Sparrow Hawk and Little Traverse Bay. Highly regarded by the Courtemanche family, Gorney was hired to work with them to design the course. He realized that they had a fantastic piece of land to work with. For many travelers, West Branch is where the north begins on I-75. The land rises at Mile Marker 208 and continues its upward and rolling trend as it crosses over the Mackinac Bridge and then meanders on to Saulte Ste. Marie.
The Dream has spacious fairways cut out of hardwood forests in such multitudes that signature holes are the rule rather than the exception. This is no dozer course. Both Tom and Dan felt that this piece of land was a natural. Great care was taken to play it like it is was with very little dirt being moved. There are no wetlands at The Dream and thus no DNR stories here. The land is on a rise and actually falls 100 feet toward the direction of I-75.
The sandy soil is conducive to growing great grasses and their choice for the fairway is Providence. Providence has been used of late by Ron Otto at Garland and by the Carter brothers at their new course, Mackinaw Club. Of the 18 holes, only one, the par three 5th hole, has a water hazard and that was built for irrigation.
Playing 6996 yards from the tips to a par 71, will certainly give Michigan golfers all that they can handle. Eight of 11 par four's are over 400 yards, the longest being 481. Three of the par five's are over 540 with the par three's averaging 191 yards. Will this be the north's first Titanium course?
The 15th hole, a 406-yard par four beauty, provides a historical note for those in the golf business. Snuffy Bunting, a renowned superintendent from the area, had his dream fulfilled as he was given the opportunity by the Courtemanches to design the hole. Shortly after Snuffy finished the hole, he passed away.
Golfers will find a two-tiered spacious driving range and an abundant putting green to hone their skills before they tackle this northern phenom. Just in time carts are right by the proshop, thus ridding golfers of starting their round with a wet cart. There are a variety of touches around the course that let the golfer know that it is owned by golf business people who know what their clients want.
This is an exceptional golf course that will definitely pick up its share of rounds. The Dream along with another area course, West Branch Country Club, gives the area a one-two punch. I am sure that the Quality Inn and other properties in the West Branch area will be putting together packages for those that want to spend the weekend and golf these two properties.
As the media begins to descend upon the Courtemanches, the family could not be prouder of this dream come true. The family affair is likely to continue, as Tom and Dan are being followed into the business by their offspring, Dan and Darcy. Darcy will be the new GM of The Dream.
The Dream is west of mile marker 215 on old M-55 and now has a new sign to alert those heading south. For tee times call The Dream at 1-888-TE-DREAM. Golf will start at $48.
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