Mike DeVries

Golf's Truly Hidden Gems

Mike shared his favorite “hidden gem” with Links Magazine, Belvedere Golf Club.

Belvedere Golf Club is a William Watson design in Northern Michigan from the mid-1920s. It occupies old rolling farmland and touches on forest in a few spots. The layout features excellent putting contours and wide variety throughout the course, including some wildly undulating surfaces (Nos. 6, 9, 11, 13, 18) as well as subtler greens that are perched on a plateau or hillside (Nos. 4 and 16). There are many outstanding holes and the interest is in the shots required and the recovery shot options when you miscalculate a shot. The charm of the course is evident in the quaintness of a small pro shop and simple clubhouse (members only). The hospitality of the club is genuine and warrants a visit by any golfer who seeks what is good in the game.

Check out the article for more hidden gems.

PRESS RELEASE: Bloomfield Hills Country Club – Course Restoration

Bloomfield Hills Country Club (“BHCC”) of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan has formally committed to the restoration of its golf course. Originally laid out by Harry Colt in 1913, it is the last remaining one in the United States to have been designed by him alone.

A long-term plan has been developed by Mike DeVries of DeVries Designs, Inc. and Frank Pont of Infinite Variety Golf Design (“IVGD”) which will provide the key framework for the delivery of a structured and faithful restoration. This is the first project to be undertaken by this Trans-Atlantic partnership of two of the world’s most renowned golf architects, both of whom are proven experts in the restoration of classic golf courses.

LaBar Golf Renovations will be the on-site contractor working closely with Mike DeVries throughout the project with Frank Pont providing regular insight. Work will commence in 2020.

Bunkering will be restored to an early vintage Colt style and edge margins of the putting surfaces will be reclaimed in order to enhance the topography’s beauty and provide the golfer with more options when undertaking recovery shots around the green. Dan Billette, BHCC’s Golf Course Manager, re-grassed the greens several years ago with Pure Distinction. This process will continue throughout the reclaimed areas. Additionally, the course’s irrigation system will be wholly updated, ensuring that its infrastructure is well positioned to satisfy the club’s needs well into the future.

A redesign of the 3rd and 4th holes will allow a lost and challenging par three to be reinstated. Colt originally designed the 3rd as a long par four and the 4th as a long par three. However, during the Depression, these holes were changed to become a mid-length par four and a short par four respectively. The new 3rd will be a 255-yard downhill par three. The 4th will become a long par four of 440 yards. This combination will restore the balance of holes throughout the routing and provide golfers with more varied shot-making opportunities.

The driving range will be also redeveloped. It will be widened in order to enhance visibility and provide more teeing space. A new practice putting green will integrate with the 1st hole’s teeing ground, providing more room for events and enhancing movement around the recently renovated clubhouse. The porch balcony will provide a dramatic vista across a new joint fairway which will be shared by the par five 1st and 18th holes, rolling away from the clubhouse as a continuous swath of closely mown ground interspersed with bunkers.

BHCC’s Colt course has a very special place in the annals of golf architecture in North America. 2021 will herald it shining anew, its classic features restored, its agronomy improved in preparation for its next century of golf.

About Mike DeVries & DeVries Designs:
Mike apprenticed with golf architect Tom Doak before attending the University of Michigan where he earned his Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture. Following a stint as an on-site design coordinator with architect Tom Fazio, he has designed six new courses and consulted to numerous clubs with regard to their course renovations.

DeVries Designs’ restoration projects have included Meadow Club in Fairfax, California (designed by Alister MacKenzie and Robert Hunter in 1927) and Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, New York (designed by Donald Ross in 1901). Its most noteworthy new design is Cape Wickham Links in Tasmania, Australia, currently ranked #24 in the world by Golf Digest magazine.

About Frank Pont & IVGD:
Having earned an MBA from the University of Chicago, Frank studied golf course architecture at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, where he studied the works of Harry Colt and Tom Simpson. Subsequently, he undertook apprenticeships working with architect David McLay Kidd in Ireland and Hawaii.

IVGD is currently advising seven of the top fifty courses in Golf World magazine’s most recent rankings for Continental Europe. Its Colt restoration projects include Utrecht De Pan (designed by Harry Colt in 1929 and now ranked #2 in Europe) and Royal Hague (designed by Harry Colt and Charles Alison in 1938 and ranked #5). The company has or is currently providing advisory services to 26 clubs with Colt designed courses.

About LaBar Golf :
LaBar Golf is a high-end golf course construction and renovation company based in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Founded by Rich LaBar in 2012, the company operates primarily in the Northeast region, and recently expanded nationally for select projects across the United States. The company touts an expert management team with over 100 years combined experience and outstanding labor crews. With an exceptional track record for timeliness, thoroughness, and dedication, LaBar Golf brings an unparalleled level of excellence to every project. Among LaBar Golf's client portfolio are some of the most prestigious golf courses in the country, such as: Winged Foot Golf Club, Merion Golf Club, Shoal Creek, Omaha Country Club, Oak Hill Country Club, Sunningdale Country Club (DeVries Designs) and Siwanoy Country Club (DeVries Designs).  

For more information, please contact:
DeVries Designs (Traverse City): Mike DeVries +1(231) 633 9495, mike@devriesdesigns.com
IVGD (London): Edward Cartwright, +44 7785 227922, edcartwri@gmail.com

Grade “A” Architecture Marquette Golf Club


“The upper peninsula of Michigan is often not thought of like a golf destination of the highest order but for those intrepid souls opting to venture a visit to the 36-hole complex at Marquette Golf Club is well worth the effort.Most notably, the Greywalls Course is a rollicking golf adventure capturing your attention right from the outset.”

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Mike featured on Feed the Ball podcast!

DeVries sits down with Feed the Ball to discuss the wonderful provocations of Pete Dye, the devastating effect of higher green speeds, working long summer days at Crystal Downs, the “billion” holes that existed on the Cape Wickham property, which hole at Wickham he thinks is one of the coolest in the world, working with a young Tom Doak, the skills of Tom Fazio, not being a member of the ASGCA, owning one of the rare original Sand Hills t-shirts, and the person to whom he’s passing the crown of “most underrated architect.”

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Pilgrim’s Run noted for its rare par 73 design

The Pilgrim's Run Golf Club in Pierson, Mich., only has three par 3s as well. It became a par 73 when architects Kris Shumaker and Mike DeVries made the 10th hole a short par 4 instead of a par 3. Four par 4s shorter than 330 yards from the blue tees make up for that missing par 3, providing ample opportunities for birdie, including the dramatic 322-yard, risk-reward finishing hole...

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PRESS RELEASE: Gaining Ground: Reputation on Rise for Golf Architect Mike DeVries

World-ranked designs and high-profile restoration projects being recognized

Traverse City, MI - Mike DeVries, principal partner in DeVries Designs, Inc., a golf course design firm based in Traverse City, Mich., has project-by-project built a reputation as one of the leading minimalist architects of this generation.

In the most recent Golf Digest highlighting the best new courses, Architecture Editor Ron Whitten wrote about new courses focusing on “fun and playability” and that “they represent the trend that many architects are embracing: build for the masses, not the elite players.”

DeVries’ recent work on Cape Wickham Links on King Island, Tasmania, Australia, is evidence of Whitten’s declaration. The project made its debut in 2016 at No. 24 on Golf Digest’s World’s 100 Greatest Courses.

“Golf should be fun, isn’t that why we play?” DeVries asks. “If someone says they had fun playing a course I designed that is the highest compliment I can receive. At Cape Wickham, the weather is quite variable and the wind can really blow at times, so it was paramount that we employed very wide fairways to accommodate golfers of all skill levels.” 

The design at Cape Wickham accommodates with significant amounts of short turf surrounding them and providing multiple shot and club options (putt, pitch, chip and run, flop, hybrid bump and run, etc.) for recovery play when golfers miss the green. 

“The fun greens and fairway width enables playability in all conditions for everyone, yet strategy dictates certain angles to certain pins for optimal scoring – this challenges the best players to think their way around the golf course while permitting the average player to have fun playing all kinds of different shots,” DeVries said.

He worked with consultant and co-designer Darius Oliver to create a classic minimalist design that flows through spectacular dune areas and along the coastline of the Bass Strait. All 18 holes provide views of the ocean with eight holes running along the coast and offering some of the most spectacular golf views in the world. The view of the Cape Wickham Lighthouse next to the course draws comparisons to the view at Ireland’s Old Head.

The spectacular coastline at Cape Wickham is in fact so dramatic that it could have easily overshadowed the golf. It made the routing of the golf course the most important aspect of the design, and DeVries and Co. did not disappoint.

“Good routings have a rhythm to them that creates an ebb and flow to the round, with stretches of strong holes interspersed with some easier ones, lending balance to a course and psychologically challenging golfers to stay on task,” DeVries said. “It could be argued that the best golfing ground is away from the coast but we utilized that to full effect starting on the coast, going inland, back to the coast, inland, and finishing on the coast with a climactic hole along the beach.”

Whitten clearly agreed and eloquently penned in the 100 Greatest article that the routing at Cape Wickham is “heart-pounding, starting along rocks and crashing surf, moving inland but not out of the wind, returning to ocean edge at the downhill 10th, pitch-shot 11th and drivable par-4 12th, then wandering into dunes before a crescendo closing hole curving along Victoria Cove beach, which is in play at low tides.”

As for DeVries’ work on restoration projects, he leans on his expert knowledge of MacKenzie, Ross, Tillinghast, Raynor and other classic designers. It has helped him recently with wonderful restoration projects in the New York region at Sunningdale and Siwanoy.

“Siwanoy and Sunningdale have good ground, great original architects, and engaging memberships,” DeVries said.  “Like many older clubs, they had lost some of their original design intentions through typical changes like tree planting, shrinking greens, irrigation, and well-intentioned but possibly ill-advised renovations, usually in the form of “modernizing” the course.”

DeVries was able to bring back the original intent of these classic courses by removing trees, expanding greens, remodeling tees, bunkers and fairway lines and upgrading irrigation to provide the strategy and fun shot-making that are the hallmarks of these courses from the early 20th century. DeVries feels those qualities are truly never out of style and, as a result, both are wonderful, fun courses to play every day.  

With more than 35 years in the golf business, including growing up near and working on the renowned MacKenzie classic Crystal Downs in northern Michigan, DeVries has developed an impressive hands-on approach to creating minimalist designs, including shaping his own greens and bunkers, working with owners and construction teams to develop environmentally sensitive golf courses, and paying attention to the details with a “less is more” attitude of designing courses that fully integrate with the landscape. 

His award-winning projects include the previously mentioned Cape Wickham, as well as Kingsley Club (#21), and Greywalls (#77) on Golfweek’s Top 100 Modern Courses in the USA.

His classic course restoration projects include Meadow Club (Alister MacKenzie), Siwanoy County Club (Donald Ross), Sunningdale County Club (Raynor, Travis, Tillinghast), St. Charles CC in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Ross/MacKenzie), Pelham Country Club (Devereux Emmet), and Jockey Club in Buenos Aires, Argentina (MacKenzie).