We can count on one hand, the number of reversible golf courses we know. The Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, started it all. The cradle of the game used to be played counter-clockwise (the accepted route) and clockwise, with regularity. Now, the clockwise route is used only on special occasions. Another reversible routing, 36 holes worth, can be found at the Silvies Valley Ranch, in Washington state. In late July, OnCore took its game to the Forest Dunes resort in Michigan, where the respected, original course was joined in 2017 by The Loop, a reversible course designed by Tom Doak.
Imagine the challenge of laying out, then building, a reversible course. Tees and greens must be side-by-side, so that one doesn’t impede the other when the routing flips. Greens must be sloped to accept shots coming in from two directions. That’s INTENTIONALLY coming in from two directions, people! Well, Doak and his team pulled it off, and the result is memorable. You play the Red routing one day, the Black the next. No oppostie-layout, incoming shots to worry about! Have a read of our time at The Loop.
Day One: The Red
Architect Tom Doak revealed that The Loop was built with the Red course always at the forefront. He then was able to construct the Black course (which was originally the Blue course) from the bones of the Red. Another fun fact: the 90 degree rule. Since there are only 18 greens on the course, each one needed two entry points. The most precise way to do this, was to design as many holes as possible to enter the shared green from 90 degree angles. The first green on the Red is entered from the south, but as the 17th green on the Black, the fairway leads in from the west. Got it? Excellent!
On day one, we played an OnCore Avant55 with a white cover. The ball reacted spectacularly off the driver, but we needed time to get used to the uber-links feel of The Loop. This is no flop-it-and-stop-it golf course, understand? Golfers need to allow for the ball to bound foward some 10-15 yards at each green entry point. The greens were also quite firm, since the course is but two years old. Oh, and they were fast, so practice hitting putts off the toe, to take some speed off.
Day Two: The Black
When you play the course in reverse, it’s important to stay focused on the shots at hand, and not try to remember what it was like the day before. The 2nd green on the Black works as a Biarritz, which is a low front, then a ditch, then a high back. On the Red, as the 16th, it plays as a double plateau-remember, different angle of approach? If not, see above! On day two, we went Crayola on the links with a lime-colored OnCore Elixr. On my word, that ball is visible from miles away. The best part was, another fellow in the group was playing a white Elixr, and on the 14th hole, the balls found the same greenside bunker. Seriously, what a magnetic personality!
By the 2nd day, you’ve advanced in your ability to play the golf course conditions. You will have more success hitting the bump-and-run, and you won’t be so daring while putting. It won’t be perfect, as we in the USA are used to soft, parkland conditions, and The Loop is a welcome change from this paradigm. The wind turns around on day two, uphill holes run downhill, and greens that sloped away, now slope to the right or left. It’s crazy fun and you should investigate a buddy trip ASAP.
Day Three: Original Course, Par Three, Hilltop Putting Course
So much more! The original, Forest Dunes course has the soft, parkland characteristics that Americans love. The Par Three course was hydroseeded in early August, and the Hilltop Putting Course is the most massive green you’ve ever seen. The food is delicious, the rooms are spacious and comfortable, the conditions are challenging (thanks to the superintendent pictured below), and it’s the perfect place to Be More With OnCore!