West Michigan’s Courses on the Coast
By Christian Meteor
West Michigan’s most captivating natural destinations almost always fall along the lakeshore — and disc golf is a great way to enjoy them. It’s had fans for decades, with plenty of courses to satisfy them, but the pandemic made the sport’s popularity surge.
Discs flew off the shelves around the state as manufacturers tried to keep up with demand, while tournaments filled up in a matter of hours with full fields of 70+ players. People were loving it, and in a place with so many fantastic courses to play, who could blame them?
Disc golf has a lot of things going for it. Most courses are totally free to play. Discs are cheap (and some lakeshore libraries lend them out). The skill ceiling is high. Plus, anybody can play — so it’s a great way to get the whole family out for a day of fun.
Coastal disc golf courses make for some of the most enchanting rounds, and Lake Michigan’s pristine shores are brimming with them. Here are our prime picks in the stretch of the lakeshore from Muskegon to Saugatuck. Pro tip: Before you head out, download the UDisc app.
McGraft Park, Muskegon
At first glance, McGraft appears to be an easy urban-style course — but after hole 8, many parts play through dense thickets and wet lowlands and lack appropriate signage. (A printable course map is accessible on the park website, or use the Udisc app.) This course offers a diverse disc golf experience unlike any other if you’re up for a bushwhacking challenge. 18 holes.
Ross Park, Norton Shores
With a wooded front 10 featuring concrete tee pads and easy to follow signage, Ross Park is a perfect course for beginners. The throws are not too challenging or long, and the course runs right along the public beach on Mona Lake, so this is a great destination for the whole family. 20 holes.
Lakeshore Disc Golf Complex, Spring Lake
A mix of winding fairways and thick “rough” puts this lowland course in the intermediate tier. Bring some muck boots and bear in mind that it’s all too easy to lose discs here. The layout is a bit confusing, too, but if you can look past these few drawbacks, the Lakeshore Disc Golf Complex is a ton of fun. The landscape is incredibly picturesque and makes for a challenging round of play. 18 holes.
The Breakers at Summit Church, West Olive
The Breakers is an excellent choice for accessibility and ease of play, while still offering an engaging disc golf experience. It is suited for players of all skill levels to play at any time of year, enjoys consistent maintenance along with a great mix of shots, and is the perfect length for a few hours out with the family. Set on church property located at 15020 Stanton St. (just off U.S. 31) in West Olive, the land is beautiful and very easy to get to. 18 holes.
Winstrom Preserve, Park Township
Winstrom plays almost exclusively through young maple forest and tight wooded fairways, so be ready to throw some control shots on this one. The well-maintained course is frequented by families and offers long and short tees for players of all skill levels. It does not get especially mucky or overgrown like some others on this list, which makes it great to play year-round. 18 holes.
Paw Paw Park, Holland
Filled with water hazards, lengthy fairways, and dense foliage, Paw Paw is a gorgeous park best suited for advanced players. The course near the Holland-Zeeland town line plays through an old ball-golf course, so most of your shots will be around lightly forested meadows. Aim to play this one earlier in the season before peak summer bloom; the course is not mowed, so the foliage gets dense and hides discs. 18 holes.
Shore Acres Disc Golf Course, Laketown Township
Saving the best for last: Shore Acres is the only 24-hole course on this list and offers two basket layouts and spectacular disc golf along Michigan sand dunes. The course in Shore Acres Township Park (behind the Felt Mansion at the southeast corner of Saugatuck Dunes State Park) plays through sandy coastal forest with plenty of elevation changes and diverse shot shapes. It’s very close to the shore, so to cool off after your round, consider taking one of the shady paths west to Lake Michigan for a dip.