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Love at first sight: the Peninsula Cup is a fun and wild ride
07 Aug 2022
by Pete Wlodkowski of AmateurGolf.com

see also: View results for Peninsula Cup, The Kingsley Club

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Those that compete in the Peninsula Cup may want to keep it a secret. But now that AmateurGolf.com has played the event -- and experienced what "Evil Genius" architect Mike DeVries has created at the host Kinglsey Club -- the word is going to get out.

If you get an invitation to this one, grab a partner and make your reservations for Michigan's Lower Peninsula.

DeVries, who makes his home in the Traverse City area, worked on a number of Alister MacKenzie designs, including the famed Crystal Downs, just an hour west of Kingsley. So it's no surprise that when he laid out The Kingsley Club, he did so with the intention of moving a minimal amount of dirt and letting the land dictate how the holes (and a few slightly diabolical greens) should play.


The rolling sandy terrain of the Kingsley Club

The result is a visual beauty that would be a perfect match play course, as anything but a precise approach shot can potentially funnel off one of the steep slopes in front of, to the side, or sometimes behind a green. Golfers that have a few rounds under their belts and feel the contours of the land will be rewarded with drives that run out further, approach shots that feed towards the hole, and backstops that can make even the most daunting bunker or chip shot manageable.


That was the case for the winning teams, who had no problem finding lots of birdies and even the occasional eagle: the Illinois team Grant Goltz and Chadd Slutzky (13 under to win the Mid-Am by 3) and the Detroit area team of Ken Hudson and Jeff Champine, who posted 9 under to win the Senior Division.

The Chicagoland duo of Goltz and Slutzky, who started the day trailing by one (behind three teams that posted 64 on Friday), are both accomplished Mid-Amateurs -- Slutzky having won two Illinois Mid-Am titles. In addition to the Mid Title, they were also crowned overall champions after they bested Hudson and Champine in a sudden death playoff consisting of four rounds on the famed par-3 ninth hole.


L-R: Goltz & Slutzky, Hudson & Champine (Kingsley Cup photo)

Senior champs Hudson and Champine won the title by coming back from a 5-stroke deficit after the first round by shooting 5-under 66. It was Hudson’s fifth Peninsula Cup title and Champine's second. The pair play out of Oakland Hills Country Club near Detroit.

The Kingsley Club

But the star of the weekend was the golf course itself. As much fun as was had by the 32 Mid-Am and 18 Senior teams from all over the country, we can't help but think that the person who had the most fun of the week was whoever was in charge of the course setup, and particularly the hole locations, some of which were positively gravity-defying.


The author (L) on the first tee with the 18th green and clubhouse behind

In an era of players trying to overwhelm golf courses with the power game, the Kingsley Club's ultimate defense is gravity itself. The genius of the greens complexes is that angles and precision are more important than power, and those who take on pins that they shouldn't may see their ball drift away into places that make the next shot a three-dimensional adventure. But all is fair in four-ball golf, where one team member always has the chance to play prudently should the other run into trouble.

And as the scoring shows (13 under and 9 under winning totals), plenty of red numbers were to be found.

Some holes like the par-3 5th and the par-4 18th have bowls that can funnel shots toward the hole, but others can repel all but the most precise shots. We saw some pins that we'd never seen before -- the short par-3 11th had one high up on a perch with dropoffs on three sides, while the driveable par-4 13th had one that looked like it was hanging on the edge of the peninsula itself. In the practice round, we took a look at the back green section on 13 and had a serious debate about which of four different angles would give the best chance of getting even a short shot close to the hole.

The Vibe


Even with navigation we struggled (click to enlarge)
In the days before phone navigation, even finding the club would be a challenge. It sits deep in the woods in a pocket of prominent sand hills, and the property itself, while equally charming, is sort of the opposite of the course: modest, understated, tidy.

The vibe of the tournament is just about perfect for a four-ball. There is a friendly, relaxed air and everyone is very welcoming. The back patio and firepit is the gathering spot, where players eat lunch and watch the adventures at the par-3 9th hole, where a best-ball double is not out of the question but neither is an ace.

There is also a place on the course -- many players know where but many don't -- where a surprise is hidden inside one of the stone walls. We encourage any first-timer to find this spot! (But please, use the waterfall method when you partake.)



View results for Peninsula Cup
ABOUT THE Peninsula Cup

This annual event is a Scratch (No handicaps) 2-Man Better Ball Invitational comprised of Mid and Senior (50+) Amateur Divisions. It takes place over three days with a practice round and two 18-hole competition rounds. The Overall Champions earn an Honorary Membership for a year at the Kingsley Club.

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