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By Brian Weis

Golf Course Overview: Crystal Mountain

Insights From An Insider With Jamie Davison, Director of Golf

Local and traveling golfers love to research courses before playing them, whether it is to gain some local knowledge or to set an expectation before their upcoming round. Below is an interview with Jamie Davison who shares some valuable insight about the property, its most talked about holes and the signature dish/drink to consume at the 19th hole.

Provide a brief description of the golf course/property, the terrain and best times of the year to play.
- Mountain Ridge: Set amid the soaring pines of northern Michigan, the Mountain Ridge course offers 18 holes of championship golf. You'll enjoy panoramic vistas from tee to green as you play from the heights of the mountain. Its fairways wind through stately forests and ascend to high elevations, providing a true northern Michigan golf experience.
- Betsie Valley: Our Betsie Valley golf course will challenge the ability of any golfer with its protected greens, tree lined fairways, challenging bunkers and jaw-dropping views. It's recent renovation in 2021 makes the course more scenic and allows greater opportunities to post a lower score! Golfers are welcome to ride in a cart or walk the Betsie Valley golf course.
There are different perks to playing at different times of the year. Summer, June in particular, offers the most sunlight and the longest days providing ample opportunity to book tee times. Not to mention, if you can book a tee time in late June after the Michigan PGA Women's Open (June 24-26), you'll play on the same conditions as the professionals. However, booking a tee time in Spring means the trees are still filling in after the colder months so you may be able to track your ball better if it were to leave the fairway. And lastly, fall is a popular time to gold at Crystal Mountain simply because of the awe-inspiring fall colors that line the fairways, and the golf cart paths as both courses take you through the woods of northern Michigan. A cool time to beat the heat as well (but harder to find that ball in all the fallen leaves if your ball just so happens to leave the fairway.)

Share with golfers, your most recent awards and golf course improvements.
A new ClubCar fleet with Visage GPS golf carts for Spring 2024 will give us the opportunity to greatly enhance the golf experience at Crystal Mountain. GPS features will include touch screens that show an overview display of each hole, dynamic distances to pins and other points of interest on each hole. This system will also allow for mobile food and beverage ordering, custom pin placements, an electronic scorecard that can be texted or emailed, along with real-time messaging to and from the clubhouse. Additionally, by introducing GPS it will allow us to closely monitor the pace of play to ensure all our members and guests have an enjoyable round.

Any tips on playing and reading the greens?
When putting on the Mountain Ridge, most of your putts will be influenced by the mountain and break away from it. Otherwise, the greens are firm, fast and don't generally have too much for hidden breaks.

When putting on the Betsie Valley course be sure to watch for the subtle breaks that are not generally noticeable. The mountain may influence putts on the back nine but the front nine is mainly influenced by some of the water features. Always make sure to play extra break on the Betsie Valley as putts always seem to break more than what you see as they lose pace due to the subtle sloping of the greens.

Starting on hole #1, are there any tips to get your round off on the right foot?
Hole #1 on Mountain Ridge, your aiming point is slightly to the right of the big tree down the left side of the fairway. This will set you up with the perfect approach angle to a difficult green that slopes right to left and front to back. Try to land your approach on the right half of the green to keep the water guarding the entire left side of the green out of play. Any shot that finishes on the green will have a good opportunity to make a putt.

Hole #1 on Betsie valley is arguably one of the tightest driving holes on the property because the fairway is guarded by water left and water right almost the entire length of the hole. Most players use less than driver to help with accuracy because a tee shot in play allows for an easy lay up to inside 100 yards or possibly a chance to go for the green in two on this relatively short Par 5. However, once you're on the green, there are definitely no gimmies as this green breaks in several different directions being influenced by hazards on both sides. Always make sure to play a little extra break on this green as putts generally tend to slide more than what you see.

What is your favorite par 5, and how would you recommend playing it?
This is a tough choice on the Mountain Ridge, but if I had to pick one it would be the Par 5 finishing hole #18. Coming down the mountain the views are amazing, but don't get distracted because even though this hole plays downhill, it's still over 500 yards long! A drive down the left side of the fairway is ideal and will allow the longer players a chance to get close in two, while giving other players a chance to lay up and wedge one close for a chance at birdie. Once on the green, putts seem to funnel toward most hole locations giving players an opportunity to finish their round on a high note with a made putt.

Hole #8 on Betsie Valley is my favorite Par 5 on property! Keeping your tee shot in the fairway on this 500+ yard hole is a must as the rough tends to be very thick just off the fairway on this hole and the right side has a large bunker that you also don't want to find your tee shot in. Once you've reached your tee shot, the second shot plays uphill and usually leaves most players with around 100 yards remaining for their third shot into a slightly elevated green guarded by bunkers and an enormous cherry tree that overhangs the right third of the fairway from about 100 yards out. Once on the green, the middle portion is fairly flat, but then the rest of the green slopes back to front and slightly to the left. Par is a good score, and birdie is a great score on this hole.

What is your favorite par 3, and how would you recommend playing it?
The Mountain Ridge course is home to four of the best Par 3's offered in our area, but #17 is probably the most dramatic hole on property. This Par 3 is straight downhill and plays as little as 100 yards but also extends to around 200 yards. The views make this hole beautiful, however the amount of accuracy required to navigate this hole makes it equally as treacherous off the tee. As you stand over your tee shot, you'll be looking 50+ feet downhill at a green that looks like a postage stamp. Bunkers and deep rough surround the green, but also make sure not to go too far left, right or long because you will end up in the trees. Since this green is one of the smaller ones on property, any shot finding the putting surface will have a very makeable putt. Escape with a par and you've done well on this difficult Par 3.

On Betsie Valley, hole #2 is an aesthetically pleasing Par 3 that will fit most any golfer's eye and shot shape. The green is kidney shaped and guarded by a large, well maintained bunker complex to the right of the green, along with a measurable false front that turns errant tee shots into difficult chip shots depending on pin location. This green slopes from back right, down to front left making any downhill putts that much quicker.

In your opinion, what is the hardest hole and do you have any tips on playing it?
Hole #16 would get me vote for the hardest hole on the Mountain Ridge course. Off the tee the 16th hole doglegs slightly left and downhill, then turns slightly right and uphill on the approach. The fairway splits in the landing area giving you a difficult choice on club selection off the tee. An aggressive tee shot can give you a shorter approach, however, should you miss right you could get stuck on a very severe slope making your approach very difficult and a miss left will put you in the trees. Most players use less than a driver off the tee to try and land in the first fairway section, then have a longer, uphill approach into a narrow, elevated green with a deep bunker to the right. Once on the green, navigating the slope becomes a challenge as the mountain greatly influences putts on this green.

Hole #6 on the Betsie Valley might very well be the most difficult hole on property. This dogleg left Par 4 plays over 400 yards and hazards line both sides of this hole for its entirety. The best advice is to take dead aim at the bunker right of the fairway because most players won't be able to reach it and it will take the water left and right out of play. However, regardless of where you find your tee shot, the approach is even more difficult as water guards the entire left side of the green and wraps around behind it. To make things worse, if you miss the narrow opening in front of the green your ball will come to rest in the water left or a deep valley to the right making an up & down even more difficult. This green slopes back to front and if you can escape with a par or better, then you've made a great score!

As a golfer plays the final three holes, is there a chance for salvation? (any tips on closing out the round?)
The final three holes on the Mountain Ridge course are some of the best in Northern Michigan! All three holes are played up on the mountain and reward great shots, but also penalize the errant ones. If a player can finish the final three holes at EVEN par, that is a great finish!

The final three holes of the Betsie Valley offer a glimmer of hope for a strong finish and a chance to make up a shot or two. Be careful though, because if you're able to take advantage of the short dogleg 16th hole and score well on the Par 5, 17th hole, it could all come undone on the difficult 18th hole! The Betsie Valley finishing hole plays around 400 yards, a little uphill and with a slight dogleg to the right. The landing area right of the fairway is guarded by a large bunker which catches a lot of tee shots. However, the most difficult part of the 18th hole is the severely left to right sloped green. Approach shots that land in the wrong area could end up in the greenside right bunker or lead to a devastating 3-putt to end your round if you find yourself in the wrong place on the putting surface.

Contact Course
Crystal Mountain 12500 Crystal Mountain Drive Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville, MI, 49683 231-378-2000 ext. 4000

Revised: 04/17/2024 - Article Viewed 1,190 Times - View Course Profile

About: Brian Weis

Brian Weis Brian Weis is the Publisher of, a network of golf travel and directory sites including,,,, etc. Professionally, Brian is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA), International Network of Golf (ING), Golf Travel Writers of America (GTWA), International Golf Travel Writers Association (IGTWA) and The Society of Hickory Golfers (SoHG). In 2016, Brian won The Shaheen Cup, an award given to a golf travel writer by his peers.

All of his life, Brian has been around the game of golf. As a youngster, Brian competed at all levels in junior and high school golf. Brian had a zero chance for a college golf scholarship, so he worked on the grounds crew at West Bend Country Club to pay for his University of Wisconsin education. In his adult years, his passion for the game collided with his entrepreneurial spirit and in 2004 launched In 2007, the idea for a network of local golf directory sites formed and was born. Today, the network consists of a site in all 50 states supported by national sites like, and It is an understatement to say, Brian is passionate about promoting golf and golf travel on a local, regional, national and international level.

On the golf course, Brian is known as a fierce weekend warrior that fluctuates between a 5-9 handicap. With a soft fade, known as "The Weis Slice", and booming 300+ drives, he can blast it out of bounds with the best of them.

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