Clomp, clomp; clomp, clomp – Drip, drip; drip, drip. In a driving rain storm our horse-drawn taxi meandered through the narrow streets of Mackinac Island to our final destination – Wawashkamo Golf Club.
The golf pro was in the middle of lunch when he saw four old men pull up in the rain and he thought to himself…what are these idiots doing out here today spoiling my lunch? Who is stupid enough to play in this weather? We’ll discuss this later, but now let’s talk about this course and it’s history.
Wawashkamo (“Crooked Trail”) is a registered Michigan Historic Site. Following is a brief synopsis of its history.
A history lesson about the Mackinac Island Battle of 1814 is the first order of business at Hole #1. The second is finding a way to avoid the dense woods to the right on this par 5, 511 yard opening hole.
Even though the fairway is open to the left, there are a few large bushes that may present a few problems. Today a flock of seagulls was enjoying the rain in the middle of the fairway – we had enough issues without a murder to start our day. Bunkers bracket the putting surface that slopes severely off to the right. Hole #2 is very similar to the previous hole in that it has trees right and close behind the green; bunkers left and right of the putting surface; and it’s still raining.
I’m enjoying the history that surrounds this course and it continues with the strange Circus Ring that surrounds the green at Hole #3. This par 4 has a few fairway bunkers to elude before trying to determine how to play your second shot. There is a small opening at the front of the green, but most of it is defended by a foot high hedge. Mr. 5-Wood’s approach shot touched down in front of the hedge, bounced over and set him up for a nice birdie putt. Back in the day, the ring was twice as high and encircled the entire green. Strange, but I liked it!
Hole #4 is a par 3 of about 125 yards. The green is hidden from view and all you can see is the flagstick at the apex of the mound that fronts the green. As Woody said, it’s a fun and funky course so far!
Hole #5 is a straight par 5, but it is anything but easy. There is a little tree trouble down the right side and the left is relatively open except for a few very large bushes. It gets more difficult by the green with pot bunkers both left and right. This small green has a deceptive false front, so pick your poison with your approach shot – long into the trees or short rolling off the green?
Even though many of the holes are straight, there are numerous hazards that will make them play with great difficulty and Hole #6 is no different. A two-foot hedge spans the fairway in front of the tee boxes; dense heather awaits your shots to the left; a deep fairway bunker guards the right; and the flock of seagulls have now moved to the center of the sixth fairway (or at least the ones that survived the first hole – only kidding!).
Holes #7 and #8 are both long par 3’s of 219 and 224 yards respectively. The eighth has a few more hazards with the Chocolate Drops and a large bunker featured on the left side of the fairway and green.
Time was starting to expire as we approached Hole #9. We had called our “taxi” on the sixth hole and they charge extra for every minute they have to wait. This 461 yard par 5 wraps around to the left with trees lining the entire right side. The green sits next to the clubhouse and sits atop a slight plateau.
Rating – Ace (50 out of 60): We quickly exited the green with our gimme birdies; rushed to the clubhouse to drop off our rental clubs; and made a mad dash for the horse-drawn taxi. The history and design of the course make it very unique. There is also an informative website that expands on this history.
The pro gave us the impression that we were interrupting his day by wanting to play golf. It was a sloppy afternoon and difficult playing in the rain, but what they need to remember is when you have only one shot at playing this course and take a ferry and horse-drawn taxi to get there, you have to play. Since it was such a bedraggled day, he did not charge us for rental clubs (which were excellent) and you can choose between steel and hickory shafts. The cost for 9-holes was $50 (a little pricey), but it is a wonderful step back in time both on the course and the island.
If you have more time on the island than we had, things to do/visit: Grand Hotel, Arch Rock, Fort Mackinac, and one of many Fudge Shops.
Clomp, clomp; Clomp, clomp goes our trip back to the ferry as the rain has now stopped. It was time to dry out and have a post-round beer/margarita at Smokey Jose’s where barbecue and bourbon meets taco’s and tequila.
3723 British Landing Road, Mackinac Island, MI 49757; 906-847-3871; www.wawashkamo.com