Tour historic nine-hole Wawashkamo Country Club on Michigan's Mackinac Island

Golden retriever Obi Wan and club manager Chuck Olson greet golfers who make the trek to Wawashkamo Country Club on Mackinac Island. (Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor)
Hickory clubs can be rented at Wawashkamo for a more authentic 19th century experience. (Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor)
Best way to get to Wawashkamo on car-free Mackinac Island? Bike! (Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor)
Keep an eye out for the "Public golf links" sign when making the trip to Wawashkamo. (Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor)
A cannon by the first tee commemorates the battle waged on these grounds in 1814 between American and British forces. (Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor)
The 8th/17th hole can play as a long par 3 or short par 4 at Washkamo and is guarded by a green in the back. (Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor)
Charming little shelters are sprinkled throughout the property. (Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor)
Scottish-American Alex Smith laid out Wawashkamo in 1898 before going on to win the U.S. Open twice in 1906 and 1910. (Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor)
Greens are very small at Wawashkamo and the 5th has a steep false front. (Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor)
Subtle design nuances, like a mound in front of the green, give Wawashkamo a 19th century Scottish flavor. (Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor)
A small tuft of rough encircles most of the 3rd green and is nicknamed the "circus ring." (Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor)
The 9th/18th hole can play as a long par 4 or par 5. (Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor)
A good 19th hole or place to stay after golf at Wawashkamo is the Chippewa Hotel and Pink Pony Lounge, which has a big hot tub and great harbor view. (Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor)

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. -- To find one of the few Michigan golf courses to open in the 19th century, you have to get there in a very old-world way. Wawashkamo Country Club, established in 1898 on car-free Mackinac Island, is accessible only by bike, foot or horse. This nine-hole course is located in the middle of the island to the east of the small airport and is a throwback golf experience in every sense.

The course, 2,999 yards, was laid out by Scottish-American golfer and club-maker Alex Smith, who would later go on to win the U.S. Open twice. Very little has changed in the century-plus since. The design is subtle, with small greens that can be difficult to hit, even with a wedge. Many holes are straight with two big exceptions being the par-4 2nd, a dogleg right, and the par-5 9th, which veers left. There are two sets of tees per hole that switch the pars and yardages up a little bit for a second loop.

Wawashkamo is a privately managed club that offers public play and leases the land from the Mackinac State Historic Parks. It is generally not as played as Mackinac's other course, The Jewel at The Grand Hotel. You'll get a friendly welcome nonetheless and the chance to see one of the more charming old clubhouses in the state. You can also rent hickory clubs here, if you don't feel like riding your bike with your clubs slung over your shoulder.


Read Brandon Tucker's review of Wawashkamo Country Club.

Jun 14, 2017

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Brandon Tucker

Managing Editor

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at BrandonTuckerGC.

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