“Tips From the Tee” is excited to be coming from beautiful Emerald Vale in Manton, Michigan. Emerald Vale plays 6,785 yards from the back gold tees and 5,219 yards from the front red tees. The par is 72 and features 4 par 3’s, 10 par 4’s, 4 par 5’s. Gorgeous sweeping views, hardwood trees, pristine ponds, and cut-out bunkers are staples at Emerald Vale.

The Course

Emerald Vale was designed in 1997 by Bruce Matthews III. Bruce Matthews III designed over 45 new courses and renovated over 60 since 1991. Bruce explains, “My designs reflect a lifetime in golf.  I have experienced and know all facets of the golf course business. I have been a superintendent for public and high-end private clubs and I have operated a public course for profit. These experiences influence how I design a course.” 

The Matthews family has quite an extensive background in golf. Bruce Matthews III father, Wallace B. “Wally” Matthews was the manager for several golf clubs. His father was W. Bruce Matthews, who was a golf course architect for Stiles and VanKleek and later Matthes and Associates. He also was the president of Grand Haven Golf Club. Golf management and design for the Matthews family dates back to 1925. This knowledge is apparently displayed at Emerald Vale. Read more on the extremely interesting and talented Bruce Matthews III at his website http://www.matthewsgolf.org.

Emerald Vale is a quick 20-minute drive north of downtown Cadillac, and only 2 miles west of downtown Manton, Michigan.

Signature Hole 14

Jim Baggett, Director of Golf Operations and Golf Course Superintendent took Dawson and Nate out to signature hole number 14. Hole 14 is a gorgeous par 4 dogleg right. The tee box sits up above the rest of the hole, and you have serene views of the treetops and fairway. 320 yards will get you to the pin from the back tees. 237 yards will do the trick from the front tees. 

Hole 14 is not a long hole by any means. The trouble lies with the sharp right dogleg. Even with a strategically placed ball in the middle of the fairway, there is still plenty of work to be done. The green is protected by three sand bunkers all on the front side, two on the right and one on the left. The player must either hit the green or run the ball in the narrow gap between the two sand traps in front of the green. There is little room for error on the backside of the green.

The Tees

When teeing up Nate took into account his fade/draw and aimed at the left of the rough. He played the ball path well and hit his 3-wood to about 100 yards, just on the right rough. Dawson decided to play it a bit risky and pull out his driver in hopes of hitting the green or just being short. Dawson is a lefty and struggles, like most, to hit a draw/hook. So, for a lefty on a dogleg right, it can sometimes be difficult. Fortunately for him, he was able to take a shortcut over the trees and end up just left of the green, perfect distance. 


Nate had 100 yards left to the pin. He pulled his approach wedge or gap as many know it by, out of his bag and took a full swing. Thankfully the distance couldn’t have been much better, and his aim was on. He left the ball about 8 feet from the pin. Dawson was sitting right up by the green, with an eagle chip from not too far out. He elected to use his 56-degree wedge and give it his best effort. Due to a fat shot and some poor contact he left it a bit short, leaving an 8-foot putt for birdie.

The Green

Dawson was still outside of Nate so he was able to stay warm and hit again. He read the putt and struck the ball quite well, unfortunately, some slower greens and a slight misread left him with about 6 inches to the hole. A par was going to have to suffice for Dawson after a tap in. Now was Nate’s time to shine and win the hole. He had a fairly straightforward putt, with the ball appearing to only move about a cup from the right to the left. Luckily the read was just good enough, and the ball trickled in from the left side of the hole and barely fell in. Chirp chirp, birdie time!

What’s Going On at Emerald Vale?

Emerald Vale has single, couple and family membership rates available. The membership includes unlimited golf, special rates at select golf courses, and discounted greens fees for guests. A practice range is on-site with bentgrass tees and target greens. Active military members receive free greens fees and just have to pay $10 for cart fees. Emerald Vale offers a full-service restaurant and bar, and large practice green. Leagues are going on every Friday and Sunday. Come out and enjoy Golf Advisor’s rated 23rd best course in Michigan!


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