Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Forest Dunes
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Forest Dunes

Rick Coates - May 24th, 2010
Forest Dunes: Sinks a Hole in One as ‘the Best’ in the U.S.
By Rick Coates
Michigan is number one in the country in the quantity of public golf
courses, and is third behind Florida and California for the total number
(both private and public); impressive considering Michigan’s weather and
current economic plight. Now within that ranking of most golf courses
comes another notable accomplishment; Michigan is now home to the #1
public golf course in the country.
According to the readers of Golf World Magazine (a weekly publication,
with 225,000 subscribers, that is part of the ESPN sports family) Forest
Dunes Golf is the “Number One Best Public Golf Course in America.”  
Nestled within the Kirtland Warbler habitat of the Huron Valley National
Forest near the South Branch of the Au Sable River, the golf club
neighbors Michigan’s heavily forested Mason Tract and is located 10
minutes east of Roscommon.
The honor is matter of personal pride for General Manager Mark Gurnow and
his team. Forest Dunes is managed by Troon Golf; since their arrival four
years ago the course has garnered several accolades.
“This (Golf World) award is probably the most meaningful,” said Gurnow.
“It is given by the golfing public and takes in all the factors that make
a great golf experience and not just the golf course.”
Designed by Tom Weiskopf, winner of the 1973 British Open, the former PGA
and Senior Tour great is himself continually ranked among the world’s best
golf course designers.
“I would put Forest Dunes in the top-three courses in which I have ever
been involved. It is the best I have built on U.S. soil,” said Weiskopf.

Forest Dunes was once part of a large parcel that was owned by William
Durant, the founder of General Motors. Durant also owned the 1,500 acre
parcel that is now known as the Mason Tract.
Durant sold the 1,200 acre Forest Dunes parcel in the 1930s to the Detroit
Partnership (The Detroit Mafia families of Tocco-Licavoli-Zerilli). For
years it was known as the South Branch Ranch and served as the private
hunting grounds for the onetime Detroit crime families and their
colleagues. Legend has it that the grounds were guarded by men with
machine guns and that Jimmy Hoffa was a regular visitor, leaving some to
speculate that he might even be a permanent fixture to the grounds. 
Forest Dunes opened in 1998 but almost wasn’t given a chance to succeed.
Shortly after opening, the course was plagued with financial troubles,
almost closing for good. In 2001, the Detroit Carpenters Union Pension
Trust Fund took over the outright ownership of the course.
Despite all the recent accolades Forest Dunes Golf Club remains “America’s
best kept golf secret,” often labeled by golf writers as a “hidden gem.”
Gurnow feels that is no longer a title that Forest Dunes will carry as
they move forward.
“I’ve been here for three years and we are starting to hear less of these
types of comments; we are no longer a secret,” said Gurnow.
While admiration from the golf media has helped get the word out, it is
the praise from the golfer that has resulted in Forest Dunes’ most
effective public relations campaign: “word of mouth.”
“Forest Dunes with all of its accolades has been on my bucket list of the
100 best golf courses I plan to play in my lifetime. I am halfway through
that list and it is the best I have played so far,” said Paul Somerville
of Southern California. I have played Augusta, several great courses in
Europe, and this has been my best experience so far.”

Golf World selected Forest Dunes for its top honor based on more than
46,000 individual facility ratings and more than 600,000 criteria
evaluations nationwide. The criteria included course quality, condition,
reputation and prestige, practice facilities, speed of play, clubhouse and
locker room, hotel accommodations, caddie program, golf shop, food and
dining, off-course activities and amenities, service, and overall value.
Driving perfect scores for “course conditions” is Jim Bluck, golf course
superintendent. Bluck has been with Forest Dunes since 2001, coming from
the Grand Traverse Resort.
“I remember the first time I played Forest Dunes, I was still at the
Resort and Dave Whiteford, a Traverse City architect and one of the
founding members of Forest Dunes, brought me over here. The course was not
even completed yet and I remember saying to him, ‘this is the best
designed golf course I have ever played,’ even without the course being
completed I knew this place was something special,” said Bluck. “The golf
purist has several expectations and course conditions are at the top of
that list, courses that cut corners in this area find it difficult to
attract that type of golfer.”
Essentially located in the middle of nowhere, the serenity and virtually
cellphone-free zone adds to the appeal of Forest Dunes.  Bluck and his
team excel at keeping the grounds in its natural state. In 2003 Forest
Dunes became the first Michigan golf course to be certified as a Gold
Audubon International Signature Sanctuary and remains one of only 21

The course remains open to public play but is transitioning to becoming
private. It currently has just over 80 members. This season, non-members
are restricted to being able to play the course only twice.
While private courses are challenged and many are closing their doors,
Gurnow sees the Forest Dunes model as viable for becoming private.
“Every step we have taken here has been with that goal of taking this
course private,” said Gurnow. “It is why we often hear from those that are
not members that they felt like they were treated as members; that when
they entered through the gatehouse every aspect of their visit with us was
what they would expect if they were a member here.”
Much of the financial future of Forest Dunes falls on the sale of more
than 300 housing lots. Currently, there are 11 homes on property. As for
going completely private, Gurnow says there is not “a specific timetable”
but is confident that it will take place in the next couple of years.
For now, anyone interested in playing “America’s Number One Public Course”
they may do so (only twice a year). For additional details, to make a tee
time or visit for dinner check out www.foresdunesgolf.com.

Rick Coates is part of the management team at Forest Dunes.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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