Doon Brae Short Course at Boyne

by | Nov 15, 2023 | Where to Play

BOYNE Golf, one of North America’s larger golf resort destinations, has announced that its new par-3 short course currently under construction will be named “Doon Brae.” Located on the backside of The Highlands Main Lodge, this will be the 11th golf course at the Northern Michigan-based resort operator. The course is scheduled to open in the summer of 2024.

“As far as I know, this is the first modern golf course ever built on a ski hill,” said Bernie Friedrich, Director of Golf Course Renovations and Development at Boyne Resorts. “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. There’s a lot of excitement about short courses. We want to keep people excited about golf and wanting to play. If playing 18 or 36 holes is not enough on any day, this gives golfers another option.”

The name “Doon Brae,” where Doon means going down into a valley and Brae means steep bank or hillside in Scottish, is fitting as the routing of the course is on the site of the former Cuff Links nine-hole par-3 course set along the hillside that doubles as a ski slope during the winter months.

Golf course architect Ray Hearn was selected to design the course. Hearn, a Michigan native, has been working closely with the BOYNE Golf team, modernizing and renovating many of the resort’s golf courses over the past several years.

“Working with Stephen Kircher and Bernie Friedrich on this project has been really exciting,” said Hearn, inspired by his many overseas trips to Scotland and Ireland, particularly Royal County Down. “Stephen came over to Ireland on one of the first architecture seminars overseas while teaching at MSU, and we both fell in love with Royal County Down, and it inspired us during the design of Doon Brae.”

Hearn’s favorite part of the project was the creatively designed green complexes.

“Drawing on our inspiration from the British Isles allowed us to create scaled-down versions of famous template greens highlighted by The Short at National Golf Links, a favorite of Stephen’s,” he said. “Other green templates include Eden, Punch Bowl, Redan, Reverse Redan, Volcano, Steep Slope, Postage Stamp, and Biarritz.”

Although the course is routed on a ski hill, Hearn focused on minimizing the walking uphill. The course, which will measure 993 yards from the back tees and 678 yards from the forward tees, will feature a variety of fun yardages with downhill, flat, uphill and sidehill lies, generally moving horizontally back and forth across the slope. Holes range from 57 yards to 134 yards, providing multiple angles and fairway options with shorter-length holes having fewer bunkers on the path toward the greens while longer holes provide more strategic angles with bunkers more in play.

“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. “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.”

The new course and the 1.5-acre nine-hole Himalayan-style putting course are both designed to be fun for everyone. They will create a wonderful area for golfers and families to hang out well into the evenings, creating a new energy level in this space. The golf course will also be lighted, and music will be played, along with food service and fire pits.

“Guests will really enjoy the uniqueness, character and fun atmosphere around the new course and putting green,” said Josh Richter, Senior Vice President of Golf Operations for Boyne Resorts. “The design of each hole is very special, and we’re excited for guests to have the opportunity to play them. It will be great to see the families out playing, the different groups playing, and who will play and when. And with the new Himalayan putting green also being built, we’re creating a pretty cool and huge golf gathering space. Guests can gather for games and fun while enjoying their favorite beverage and enjoying all Northern Michigan’s beauty. It’s going to be a heck of space for all to enjoy in a way that is best for them. Having music playing as well will make it a fantastic entertainment environment.”

Bay Harbor Golf Club and the Inn at Bay Harbor are Boyne Resorts’ flagship Michigan properties, set along the stunning Lake Michigan shoreline. They feature 45-holes, including three golf course combinations designed by Arthur Hills (Links/Quarry, Quarry/Preserve, and Preserve/Links) and the scenic Crooked Tree Golf Club.  The Inn at Bay Harbor is a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel combining luxe comfort with gracious hospitality.

The Highlands features 72 holes of premier golf design. The Heather, the 2019 NGCOA Course of the Year, was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., while the Hills Course was crafted by Arthur Hills. The Donald Ross Memorial is a rendition of the legendary architect’s great holes from around the country, and The Moor course was recently updated. The Highlands is the perfect buddy trip destination for golfers who like to play as many holes as they can during the long summer daylight hours that northern Michigan features.

Boyne Mountain not only features two fun 18-hole courses (The Monument and The Alpine), along with the charming Mountain Grand Lodge and Spa, it is also the leading family-friendly golf destination in the region with the Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark, junior golf camps, and various kid golf programs.


About the Author

<a href="" target="_self">Steve Pike</a>

Steve Pike

Steve “Spike” Pike is a lifelong journalist whose career covers Major League Baseball, the NFL, and college basketball. For the past 26 years, Spike has been one of the more respected voices in the golf and travel industries, working for such publications as Golfweek, Golf World, and Golf Digest for The New York Times Magazine Group. In 1998, Spike helped launch the website for the PGA of America. As a freelance travel and golf writer, Spike’s travels have taken him around the world. He has played golf from Pebble Beach to St. Andrews, walked the Great Wall of China, climbed an active volcano in the Canary Islands, been on safari in South Africa, and dived with sharks off Guadalupe, Baja California.