Dana Fry is bullish on a bold new course he’s building at Arcadia Bluffs in Arcadia, Michigan. One of the co-designers of Erin Hills, recent host of the U.S. Open, Fry is putting the finishing touches on what will look and feel a lot like the Chicago Golf Club, a C.B. Macdonald original, which was later remodeled by Seth Raynor, Macdonald’s longtime partner/protégé.
Chicago Golf Club, No. 14 on Golf Digest’s recent list of America’s 100 Greatest, is famous for the adventure of timeless design, strategic options off the tees and approaches into big and challenging green complexes, as well as several of Macdonald’s template hole concepts, including a Punchbowl, Redan and Biarritz. As for the second course at Arcadia Bluffs, Fry tells me the Chicago Golf Club was simply a template, there will be no template holes.
I recently caught up with Fry for more on what promises to make waves in the golf world, especially along the shores of Lake Michigan.
Do you have a name for the course?
It is called The South Course at Arcadia Bluffs.
How far is it exactly from Arcadia Bluffs?
It is one mile directly to the south, just off of Route 22, which is the road used to enter Arcadia Bluffs. Ours is inland, there are no views of the water.
What was the process of getting the job?
As you know, the first course is credited to Rick Smith and Warren Henderson. Warren used to work with Mike Hurdzan and me back in the early 90s. Well, a story not many people know, Rick Smith called me and wanted me to go work with him back in the early 90s. I didn’t want to leave Mike, so I referred him to Warren Henderson. Rick called Warren, and that’s how they started working together. Then, after Arcadia was built, Warren went on to work with Gary Player and Nick Price. And about seven or eight years ago, the owner of Arcadia Bluffs, Rich Postma, hired Warren to run one of his companies. We’re not talking golf, we’re talking one of his big businesses. Well, over the course of the last few winters, Warren called and had me host Rich and his buddies at Calusa Pines and Naples National. And that was it. Just a great guy and we had a lot of fun. And then last July, a little over a year ago, Warren called me and said, “We’re going to be working together real soon.”
I said, “What do you mean?”
He goes, “Rich is going to build another golf course and he decided you’re going to be the guy. He said he likes you, thinks you’ll be easy to work with, loves Calusa Pines.” And that was that. It was totally unexpected. There’s no question.
What happens next?
Well, last July, I met Rich and Warren and went out on what was the site. We walked around quite a bit of it. There’s 310 acres and probably 30 to 40 percent of it was treed, the rest was open. And I said, “Rich, have you ever been to Chicago Golf Club?” He said, “Yes.” Mind you, at this point, I wasn’t sure I had the job. He said, “It’s one of my favorite courses in the world. I play there every year.” I said, “It’s one of my favorites too. I think, if all these trees were gone, with your soil and topography, I think we could do something that has the look and feel of Chicago Golf Club.” And I think that’s what cemented the deal. He’s a member at Sand Hills, loves the Coore and Crenshaw stuff. He has seen a lot of Tom Doak and Gil Hanse stuff that he likes, because he’s a well-traveled guy. But he tended to believe a lot of the courses were looking alike, and he wanted to do something that was really different. And what we’ve done at Arcadia is really emulate the style and look of Chicago Golf Club, without copying any of the holes.