A Golf Course Worthy of National Reputation
THE BELVEDERE GOLF CLUB’S HISTORY BEGAN IN 1925
In 1925 Members of the Belvedere Club, a summer home association of 91 cottages nestled between Round Lake and Lake Charlevoix, decided their existing social club needed a golf course. The group hired renowned Scottish architect William Watson to design a golf course “worthy of national reputation” and he delivered.
Watson’s resume included such great designs as The Minikahda Club & Interlachen in Minneapolis, Harding Park and both Olympic Club layouts in San Francisco, Salt Lake Country Club, Olympia Fields, San Diego Country Club, Annandale Golf Club along with over 115 other courses. Watson used five teams of horses and 150 men to build Belvedere Golf Club routing the course across a pair of valleys dissected by Marion Center Rd. just south of Charlevoix.
Belvedere, which stretches to 6,906 yards, isn’t long by modern standards, but the challenge lies in the short game around the dynamic green complexes, which features subtle undulations, ridges and slopes that fall off to chipping areas.
Opened in 1927, the course soon became a respected tournament venue, most notably as a regular host of the Michigan Amateur—40 times in all. Beginning in 1963, Belvedere hosted the Amateur for 26 consecutive years.
In 2003, the Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) brought the Amateur back to Belvedere, along with dozens of past champions and finalists. It returned again in 2014 for the 40th time, and in 2025, it will return again in celebration of its 100th anniversary.
Along with its many Michigan Amateur Championships, Belvedere has hosted several professional events. Legends such as Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Leo Diegel, Alex Smith, Macdonald Smith, Jock Hutchison, Tommy Armour, Denny Shute, Jim Barnes, Alex Ross, Emmet French, Horton Smith and many others all walked the historic course and competed at Belvedere.
In more modern times, Sam Snead, Julius Boros, Ken Venturi and Loren Roberts have made several visits to experience the club and its history. Hall of Fame golfer and five-time Open Champion, Tom Watson, spent his childhood through his college years summering in Northern Michigan and Belvedere became his home course during the summer. To this day, Watson pronounces Belvedere as one of his three favorite courses in the country – behind Augusta National and Pebble Beach. Watson is an honorary member of Belvedere Golf Club and still makes occasional visits to the club.
In the summer of 2016, The demolishment of an old building in Charlevoix led to the discovery of famous golf architect William Watson’s original drawings of the historic course. While aerial photos existed from the late 1930’s, there was no actual documentation of the original parkland design with its classic flowing fairways, strategic bunkers and subtle greens.
After 95 years, with the genius of William Watson having resurfaced, the decision was quickly made to begin a restoration that would restore much of what had been lost over the decades. Under the watchful eyes of golf architect Bruce Hepner and former long-time course superintendent Rick Grunch, the restoration project was a huge success. Hepner, a former Tom Doak disciple, is highly regarded in the industry as a specialist when it comes to classic course restorations by legendary designers such as Ross, Tillinghast, MacKenzie and now Watson to name a few.