First Peek: Stoatin Brae

By Graylyn Loomis

The newest course at a Michigan resort is a coming-out party for a team of up-and-coming designers

When Jon Scott, owner of Gull Lake View Resort in Augusta, Mich., wanted to add a sixth golf course to his family’s property, he turned to Tom Doak, who lives about three hours north in Traverse City. Doak was busy with another project, but recommended a group of guys who’d never built a design on their own: his associates—Erik Iverson, Don Placek, Brian Schneider, and Brian Slawnik—who, working collectively as Renaissance Golf Design, took on Stoatin Brae as both a blank canvas and an opportunity to step out of their boss’s shadow.

The course is laid out on a relatively flat and treeless hilltop that provides long views of the surrounding countryside and is very exposed to strong winds. Combining the openness with firm conditions and low-cut green surrounds encourages a links-like style of play, exaggerated by undulating greens that offer different sets of challenges depending on the angles of approach from the wide fairways.

On the front nine, the team uses bunkers, angles, and raised greens to create interest and impact. The more rolling back nine is the more impressive: Holes 10–15 are the best on the course, with two par threes—the 11th and 14th—that play across and down the most dramatic parts of the landscape. Both stand with the best one-shotters in the state.

Doak left his guys alone, visiting the site only once before Stoatin Brae officially opened last year. His verdict? “It wouldn’t have been any better had I been involved.”

Stoatin Brae
Augusta, Mich.

Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort
Opened: 2017
Architect: Renaissance Golf Design
Yardage: 6,742
Par: 71