Serene and Sporty, the “Hidden Gem” of Gaylord
Local golfers refer to Wilderness Valley as the “hidden gem.” The Al Watrous-designed course does not garner the publicity of its much-tougher Black Forest sister layout, but it's plenty “hard enough for most people,” according to David Smith, founder and owner. He also says, “Good players will have a good time.”
One feature Wilderness Valley definitely shares with its newer neighbor is the serene beauty of the surrounding emerald forest. And among the evergreens and hardwoods, in the early morn or settling dusk, you may notice a few whitetail deer, a wild turkey, or even a badger.
Winding between ridges that rise a couple hundred feet, Wilderness Valley is gently rolling but nonetheless includes a few dramatic elevation changes.
The fairways appear generous but frequently narrow in the prime landing areas, and many of the holes bend left or right, putting a premium on accuracy. The rough is resort-friendly, and many of the greens can be reached by bouncing the ball rather than requiring a carry over one of the 45 bunkers. Women, seniors, and other players with a low trajectory ball flight especially appreciate this feature.
Course Notes and Hole Details
Since the contours of the Wilderness Valley greens are modest, course superintendent Don Nichols will typically boost the Stimpmeter speed to around 10.
The par-5 17th hole is representative of Wilderness Valley's many doglegs. With a good tee shot, players may choose to try to reach the green in two. However, the second shot is blind and must be carried over a hillside which leads down to the valley green.
Among the more picturesque backdrops are the approaches to the 5th and 9th holes, both par 4s requiring uphill second shots to sloped greens guarded by the edge of a menacing hill.
There's only one water hazard on the Wilderness Valley course, and that's on the right side in the landing area of the 1st hole.
The course plays about 6,500 yards from the tips (126 USGA men's Slope Rating), 6,000 yards from the white tees (121), and under 5,000 yards from the reds (115 women's Slope Rating). Par is 35 out and 36 in for 71. Yardage blocks are provided on the par-3 tee boxes, and color-coded 100, 150 and 200-yard markers are in the center of the fairways of all longer holes.
The 9th hole and 18th holes come back to the clubhouse, so it's feasible to play a quick nine.
“On our recent annual trip to Gaylord we played Wilderness Valley … it was the highlight of our week. Not only was the course in the best shape I have ever seen, the staff couldn't have been nicer and more accommodating … we will definitely see you next year.”
- Howard B. Miller
Call 231-585-7090 or use the form below:
Wilderness Valley Map & Scoring