4747 Champions Circle SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49512
The temperature was barely 50, the forecast called for rain, and the afternoon was fading fast. Could I squeeze in one more round of golf this chilly fall? The suspense may not be killing you, but it was killing me as I shivered on the first tee.
It was my first visit to Thornapple Pointe, which I’d heard so much about and built up in my mind as a dream course. Perhaps it couldn't have lived up to its idyllic billing--especially not today--but overall, I was slightly underwhelmed. For all the scenic value the club gets from its location on the Thornapple River, it suffers from being in the airport's backyard and having jumbo jets interrupt players' backswings. From holes 11 through 14, the highway is in play--or its noise is, anyway, as serenity succumbs to din. When I teed up at 18, a train blasted its way behind me. (The track requires a tunnel between the two portions of the course, and the course layout annoyingly requires four passages through it.)
Distractions aside, the course is still one of the best in the area, and fall is one of the best times to play it, as the leaves light up and change their clothes, providing a picturesque backdrop. As for the course itself, the greens are challenging but the fairways are much more forgiving than I expected--there are good places to miss on most of the holes. The puzzling thing for me was how the course favors dogleg rights--a challenge for me as a lefty slicer, but seemingly a concession to righties.
For the first time ever, since it was a fall special, I played with a computerized cart, which automatically reported yardages. I hated to miss walking, but the computer helped, and it was the only way I was going to try to get in 18.
I played the gold, or forward, tees on 10/25.