Click here to read Terry Moore’s article about Stoatin Brae in The A Position.
If there is one thing I’ve learned about reviewing new golf courses, it’s not playing them too early. New courses are like new restaurants: they need time to get settled. Often it’s unfair to review a course when it hasn’t fully grown in and matured. Course conditions, especially fairways and greens, make up a large part of one’s assessment of a new track so it’s best to wait for Mother Nature to do her thing.
Such was my case with Stoatin Brae, the course that opened a few years ago as part of Gull Lake View’s fine collection of six courses. As much as I was intrigued with the layout, the work of Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design in Traverse City, I resisted the temptation to play until I heard it had matured. I can happily report the course conditions at Stoatin Brae are very good and are heading in the right direction for a links-inspired turf. So my first impressions of it are favorable and the positives heavily outweigh any shortcomings one may find.
First off, the name means “Grand Hill” in Gaelic and the drive up to the clubhouse is testimony to its apt name. Located in Augusta, Mich, on one of the highest elevations in Kalamazoo County, Stoatin Brae commands an ideal perch for a golf course. And the routing and golf holes match it perfectly.
As one of the lead designers for the course, Eric Iverson said the property was “love at first sight.” In a recent interview with me, Iverson said he was “absolutely taken by the property even before I got out of the car.” Seeing 150 aces of land with few trees and with gently sloping terrain meant many built-in advantages for designing a golf course. “It didn’t require clearing, offered a beautiful prairie landscape and one could see virtually the entire property from end to end, hedge to hedge.” Iverson’s only concern was if the property was wide enough to accommodate the layout. “But once we sorted out the routing and realized all 18 holes would fit in nicely, we all felt relieved,” said Iverson.