New Owner Brings Big Changes to Forest Dunes Golf Club


ROSSCOMMON – Forest Dunes, one of the nation’s most critically acclaimed but under-utilized golf clubs, is launching a new future, thanks to energetic new ownership determined to tap its vast potential as a national golfing destination.

After 10 years of collecting coveted awards as one of America’s best golf courses with little growth to show for its lofty billing, the 1,300 acre club and its 7,141-yard course designed by Tom Weiskopf was recently purchased by Lew Thompson, a trucking company magnate from Huntsville, Ark.

Thompson is no stranger to the golf industry. He is the managing member of a partnership that owns and operates The Bridges Golf & Country Club with a Jack Nicklaus course in Montrose, on Colorado’s Western Slope, halfway between Grand Junction and Telluride.

The new owner is wasting no time implementing plans to make Forest Dunes more hospitable and attractive to daily golfers, its current members, and potential members who might buy property there.
An architect has already designed a 22-room hotel with four luxury suites and building plans will be submitted in January to township and county authorities for approval. The building will be attached to the 23,000-square-foot clubhouse, a facility designed to invoke the style of a great Adirondack style lodge.

The clubhouse has a spa, an exercise area, member’s locker rooms and a full service restaurant and a separate bar and lounge. Thompson said he is planning to have the facility open by the end of June or early July.

Members of The Bridges club will have reciprocal privileges to stay and play at Forest Dunes. Thompson’s purchase includes the seven luxurious appointed model homes on the property, as well as the 27-acre Lake AuSable for fishing, canoeing, and beach activities.

Acknowledging Forest Dunes’ reputation as one of the best conditioned public courses, Thompson said that Jim Bluck, the superintendent of grounds and Donny Fisher, the Head Golf Professional are remaining on staff.

Weiskopf, a former British Open champion who has earned an international reputation for world-class course designs, has described Forest Dunes as one of his three best efforts.

Last summer Forest Dunes cracked Golf Magazine’s list of the nation’s Top 100 courses, making its debut at Number 45. Previously, readers of Golf World magazine selected it as the top public course in the country. It was also ranked No. 18 on Golf Digest magazine’s list of the 100 greatest public courses in America. It is a perennial choice on Golf Week’s list of their top 100 modern courses in the country.

The course is set within the 40,000-acre Huron National Forest, in an environmentally sensitive area near the Au Sable River, one of the nation’s finest fly fishing venues. The course is complemented by a huge practice facility that features a two-and-a-half acre putting course.

Forest Dunes’ effort to protect the river earned it a coveted Gold Signature Certification from the Audubon International organization. It is the highest level of certification a golf course can receive, and Forest Dunes is the only course in Michigan to achieve that distinction. There are only 21 other golf properties in the world with that gold certification. 

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