More Bang for Your Buck (Lower Peninsula, Michigan)
When it comes to golf, northern Michigan truly delivers a five-star experience for a steal. "It's an incredibly golf-rich region," says famed course architect and Lower Peninsula resident Tom Doak. Forest Dunes Golf Club in Roscommon rests on the kind of picturesque backcountry that inspired Hemingway's Big Two-Hearted River. Its layout romps from sand-fringed meadows to piney wilds, and its massive, Adirondack-style clubhouse offers more amenities than plenty of high-end country clubs, including a gym and a spa. Four rounds plus two nights at the new, rustic-chic Lake AuSable Lodge, a stone's throw from the first tee, costs just $329 in shoulder seasons. Two hours west is Arcadia Bluffs, situated on Lake Michigan and featuring an intimate, 15-room hotel. It's got Pebble Beach-worthy views at less than half the price (stay for $150 a night; play for $75). Doak's favorite sleeper course? The Belvedere Golf Club in Charlevoix. "It's laid out over farmland, with a lot of movement on the fairways and some very neat contours on the greens," he says. Take a low-key summer road trip here, and save your cash for a new set of clubs.