That's Sugar Brook along the 18th Fairway, and Sugar Lake in the background.

SUGARBROOKE GOLF COURSE at RUTTGERS
History kind to Sugarbrooke

by Rob Levine

Every golfer who sticks with the game knows that courses change over time-- some mature and get better, some languish, and others just remain the same. We recently had a chance to visit Sugarbrooke Golf Club, 15 miles outside of Grand Rapids, for a second visit in three years. On our first visit we found a pleasant resort course with fine greens and a nice ambiance, but a little immature along certain holes (perhaps remnants from the 1993 redesign by Joel Goldstrand?) Today it's obvious the folks at Sugarbrooke have been spending time and money upgrading not only the golf course but the entire resort.

For a lower-priced course ($25 for guests, $30 for non-guests) Sugarbrooke compares favorably in grooming to the more upscale golf courses, featuring bentgrass tees and greens, and well-manicured fairways. Notably a number of rough areas have been cleaned out since our last visit, making it somewhat easier to find errant shots. Probably the strongest aspect of Sugarbrooke are its greens, which are large, soft and true, with very few ball marks, presumably due to low traffic.

Sugarbrooke also has a memorable layout, interspersing longer, wide-open type holes with shorter ones with more trouble. One that mixes both characteristics is the 470 yard par 5 number 6, a classic Joel Goldstrand (the course's designer) hole. The drive opens up on essentially a large field. At the end is danger: OB on the right, water on the left. Challenge the 150 yard marker and you risk the aforementioned. Leave it short, and you've got a long shot to a well-protected green (water, sand and OB). For the timid or short drivers there's a lay-up area about 100 yards out.

Other holes with dense woods on both sides of dog-legging fairways may frustrate golfers. One such hole is the 400 yard par 4 number 3, which requires a big fade off the tee. Miss either way off the fairway, and your ball is probably lost. The next hole, the 326 yard par four fourth, is much more fun, challenging you to drive the green, with only minor trouble should you fail. Other short par fours invite challenging the green. Number fourteen, just 289 yards from the white tees, is just such a hole, with impenetrable woods to the left and tree-trouble to the right.

A couple of the par threes are also legitimate golf holes. The 160 yard seventeenth (pictured) is a particularly beautiful and difThe seventeen green at Sugarbrooke. 160 yards par 3.ficult hole, with a bunker protecting the front-left, and a marsh to the left and behind.

The 211-yard number five also challenges the average golfer, both with its length, and its trouble. Woods await the errant right or long shot.

And of course there's the signature eighteenth hole, a short (376 yards) par four that carries over Sugar Brook, with Sugar Lake in the background.

What's nice overall about Sugarbrooke is the variety and quality of the holes. While it still is not a completely mature course--there a few places where the grass is thin or poorly maintained--they are for the most part few and far between. Most golfers, even those with higher handicaps, will find Sugarbrooke a fair and interesting course, appreciating both its beauty and intriguing design.

Highly recommended.

Click here for the scorecard and layout of Sugarbrooke.

Sugarbrooke Golf Club
P.O. Box 847
Grand Rapids, MN 55774
(218) 450-4555

Ruttger's Sugar Lake Lodge
1-800-450-4555

  Blue White Yellow Red
Rating 72.2 70.8 69.6 70
Slope 124 121 119 120
Distance