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Navigating Jack Nicklaus’ clever sandscapes and bailout areas is key to taming the brawny 16th at American Dunes.

Nile Young

One key to great design is creating difficult holes that are also fun to play.

It’s the best of both worlds — and easier said than done! The fact remains that these double agents do exist. Case in point: the par-4 16th at American Dunes in Grand Haven, Mich. This Jack Nicklaus layout opened mid-pandemic, but it and its mighty 16th (460 yards from the Valor tees) have not gone unnoticed by GOLF’s course raters.

The par-4 16th hole at American Dunes.

GolfLogix

From the tee, a 170-yard-long bunker sits left of the fairway while another sandscape looms right. That’s okay — the landing area is about 50 yards wide, so most players will find the short stuff. Assuming a good drive, the approach calls for a hybrid, at least, but ahead rests a 130-yard-long bunker slashing diagonally across the fairway, starting 40 yards short, left of the green, before hugging the right side of the putting surface.

The bunker is upward of 10 feet deep — avoiding it is an absolute must. Thank Nicklaus for giving you plenty of room to do so: On the far side of this formidable hazard is an 85-yard-long island of short green grass. The ground is higher on the left (the side away from the bunker). Savvy players will use this area to kick shots right and get them rolling on the green. It’s visually impressive — even intimidating — but it can be had by playing smart. (Call it a “4.5” par.) Beautiful, beastly, with options galore. Mission accomplished.

GOLF.com and Nicklaus Companies are operated by the same parent company, 8AM Golf.

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