ARCADIA BLUFFS GOLF COURSE – Arcadia Bluffs, MI
B+ – Playability & Challenge
B- – Quality of Course
F – Memorability
F- – Service Levels
F – Pro Shop
F – 19th Hole Experience
D- – OVERALL EXPERIENCE
(Written by Jim Allen) … My review on Arcadia Bluffs uses some analogies so you can truly put everything in perspective. Picture this: You’re a single guy and your buddies just lined you up on a date with Katherine Zeta Jones this Saturday. Yes … that Catherine Zeta Jones! As you can imagine, the hype and build up to the weekend to hang out with this top rated talent is over the top. After all, you’ve seen all of the photographs and know she is smoking hot “10.” You anxiously count down the minutes.
Then Saturday night finally rolls around and she shows up looking … well … just “OK.” Much to your surprise, she proceeds to nag, rag, and irritate you like fingernails raking down a chalkboard. This goes on for six straight hours – and she seems to be enjoying the process. On top of that, dinner was cold, the service sucked, and nobody seemed to care. This nightmare can’t end soon enough. I thought she was a “10,” but she ended up as a “1.” I didn’t think that was possible.
Which brings me to … Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club. Like Catherine Zeta Jones, the hype was there: 3100 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline, a 150-foot coastal bluff, sod-walled bunkers, and a strong PR campaign promoting the best views in the world and “golf at its absolute best.” And let’s not forget a Golf Digest ranking of the 10th best in the nation!
Now all of that hype would have been great if we were just there to take some photographs. But we were there to enjoy some top rated golf. As it turned out, it was by far the worst day we had ever experienced on any of our Golfest adventures; and I don’t think we even have a course that is a close second. It was horrible from the start and never got any better.
Here is an overview: There was an error in our tee times and we were given eight minutes to get from our car to the first tee box – no exception. Once we got there, we were lectured (proudly) by the starter that the course doesn’t tolerate slow play (cool, neither do we!) However, four holes into the round, play came to a screeching halt with 15-minute waits on the tee box pretty much the norm. We ended up suffering through a grueling 18-holes that dragged on for almost six-hours. To put that in perspective, it took almost three hours to get to the turn. Arcadia was more backed up then Larry the Cable Guy after Thanksgiving Dinner.
By the time we got to the turn, our pre-ordered food was cold. The food staff didn’t care – take it or leave it. We finally ran into a marshal at the turn. That was unfortunate too, because he didn’t seem to care either. The maintenance workers were customer service challenged also, a point made obvious when they showed up at five consecutive greens to do their business – without the common courtesy of killing their mowers. There wasn’t a scenic view in the world that could turn this fiasco into an enjoyable experience.
After the round, I expressed my dismay to the pro shop staff. When I informed the trainee at the counter that our round lasted almost six hours, he actually disagreed with me. He stated … without making eye contact … that the course had been running at four hours and 15-minute pace all day long. What? You are kidding me? I encouraged him do a little math from my 11:50 tee time to the current 5:45 p.m. time that I was standing in front of him. No apology, just body language that portrayed he didn’t care. To top it off, the course manager didn’t dish up an apology until prompted to do so. Their customer service was like taking a snowman on an easy par-4 — just painful.
Kind of sounds like that alleged Catherine Zeta Jones experience; doesn’t it? It looked really good, but the real life experience turned out to be a good opportunity ruined.
In summation, our group is on a mission to play the top 100 golf courses in the United States. We have played some of the nicest venues in the nation, ranging from Pebble Beach & Bandon Dunes, to Pinehurst and Kiawah Island. Even Pebble Beach with its pricey $400 green fees, was a great value for the money. All expectations were exceeded in categories such as course conditions, playability, memorability, and service levels. The $135 Arcadia Bluffs experience left us looking for a refund.
I think Jim Dee sums it up best in his response to Arcadia Bluffs: “Top rated courses such as yours have an obligation to live up to the standard that has been set by Golf Digest, just as we golfers have an obligation to seek out and play the top rated courses. We did our part by traveling thousands of miles to experience your course, and I hope that your course can raise its level of service to make the effort on the part of future golfers worthwhile.”
(EDITOR NOTE: For those of you at home taking notes, Catherine Zeta Jones is a 10 and was just used for purposes of explanation.)