Boyne Resorts, already home to 10 golf courses in Michigan, is adding a new par-3 course to be designed by Ray Hearn. The lighted nine-hole layout will be sculpted into the ski slope behind The Highlands Main Lodge in Harbor Springs and is scheduled to open in the summer of 2024.
The course will be named Doon Brae, with Doon reflecting the act of descending, as in going into a valley, and Brae meaning a steep bank or hillside in Scottish. It will be in a location formerly used for the resort’s Cuff Links par-3 course.
“As far as I know, this is the first modern golf course ever built on a ski hill,” Bernie Friedrich, director of golf course renovations and development at Boyne Resorts, said in a media release announcing the course. “What excites me most is how beautiful and different it is. There are three or four stacked wall bunkers. Instead of using tee boxes, we’ll have just one marker on each hole and let guests play wherever they want.
“And the greens are inspired by some of the great ones around the world. They’re not copies of any specific greens, but they look different and are big. We also sodded all of the fairways, which will be well-maintained and surrounded by some tall fescue for that whisper look and feel. It’s going to be quite stunning.”
Hearn, a Michigan native, is working with the resort destination on several projects with its other courses. He also will design a 1.5-acre putting course alongside Doon Brae.
For Doon Brae, Hearn is focused on minimizing any uphill walks, even with the course on a steep slope. The layout will play between 678 and 993 yards, generally moving horizontally across the slope. Holes will range from 57 to 134 yards. Hearn said he was inspired by Royal County Down in Northern Ireland when designing Doon Brae, and also by many famous template greens.
“Boyne Golf is one of the top golf resort destinations attracting thousands of golfers annually from all over the country, and I wanted to make sure we were creating something fun and unique without being a difficult walk,” Hearn said in the media release. “We also considered all the families who would take their kids out. When you look at the routing, it works – No. 1 is a level hole, 2 is uphill, 3 is downhill, 4 is uphill, 5, 6 and 7 are kind of sidehill with 5 slightly uphill, with 8 and 9 playing downhill.”