Loop (Black)

Part genius, part madness, but 100% fun, The Loop - Black at Forest Dunes in Roscommon, MI is Tom Doak\'s (Renaissance Golf Designs) unique, highly acclaimed reversible 18-hole links-style course that has quickly become a favorite in the state to golfers of all skill levels since its opening in 2016. Doak became fascinated with the idea of a reversible golf course in his late teens upon reading the appendix to the book, \"The Architectural Side of Golf\", by legendary golden era U.K. architect, Tom Simpson. The inspiration comes from the The Old Course at St. Andrews, which was regularly played in reverse through the 19th century. While Simpson built smaller 3 or 4-hole reversible courses for the English aristocracy on their private estates, Doak imagined creating something similar, but on a much grander scale. To do so he needed the right piece of property and a developer willing to step outside tradition and take a risk. Enter Lew Thompson - a wealthy trucking magnate and owner of Forest Dunes resort. Thompson already had a popular course on his hands in Forest Dunes, a Tom Weiskopf design 18-hole layout which opened for play in 2003. For his second course Thompson wanted something with more of a \"Wow\" factor to complement Forest Dunes. Doak\'s concept of a reversible 18-hole course piqued his interest and the parcel of land he had available for it made for a perfect marriage between designer and developer. While the course is built on relatively flat land, there\'s more movement and undulation to it than meets the eye. Because of the reversible nature of the design, the playing corridors are wider than a traditional 18-hole layout to accommodate the directions each green is played from. While a hole may play as a short par 3 one day, it\'s a sharp dogleg par 4 the next. Although the playing areas of the fairways are generous, there are hidden and visible dangers that make positioning your tee shot important. Because The Loop plays like a classic U.K. links course with its firm, fast fairways the amount of extra distance you get on your drive needs to be taken into consideration. While it\'s easy to find the fairways, being on the correct side for your approach is not - especially if the wind is up. The links design also places an importance of the need for a good ground game to score. While the course has a lot of waste areas and bunkers, I surprisingly managed to avoid most of them. When I did miss the green, I played bump and run shots or putted, which made getting up and down a lot of fun. Because the greens are played from two directions there isn\'t as much severe slope or undulation to them as you typically find at other Tom Doak courses. That\'s not to say the greens are flat. Far from it. There are lot of subtle and not so subtle interior undulations that make reading the greens and picking the correct line a challenge. Given the spaciousness of the property you never feel as though you\'re out of a hole. I always felt I had a chance of saving par or salvaging bogey no matter how far offline my tee shot was or how badly I missed the green. While there wasn\'t a hole that stood out in my mind as a \"signature\", there wasn\'t a weak one in the bunch either. I thoroughly enjoyed them all and found each to be uniquely challenging and aesthetically pleasing. My favorite aspect of playing The Loop was the lack of tee boxes. You go from green site to stakes or mini flag poles placed in the ground adjacent to it, making the layout a treat to walk and the most fun I\'ve had playing a round of golf in quite some time. My only regret is I didn\'t have time play it in reverse or, the \'Red\' routing, but plan to do so the next time I visit Forest Dunes.