Brandon Tucker

Managing Editor

Brandon Tucker is Managing Editor for Golf Advisor and has been with the TravelGolf network since 2003 when he came onboard as an intern. Today, Tucker oversees the network of sites and also contributes golf and travel articles, photo essays, videos and more. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 courses. Brandon graduated from the Indiana University School of Journalism with a minor in music. At IU, he was a columnist for the Indiana Daily Student, a reporter for IUSTV and hosted a radio show on WIUS. Since college, he served as a reporter and photographer for WTXL, an ABC News affiliate in Tallahassee, Fla., and as a producer of onboard television for Norwegian Cruise Lines. Tucker currently lives in Austin, Texas. He's played some great golf courses around the world, but says the northern part of his native Michigan is still his favorite golf spot. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at BrandonTuckerGC.

  • 3.0 stars from 5

    The Jewel Golf Course

    "Hits the spot on historic Mackinac Island"

    There are bucket list golf destinations all over Michigan. Car-free Mackinac Island, however, is a bucket list historic summer destination with family-friendly, complementary golf. The Jewel is part of the legendary Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, one of the historic icons in Midwest hospitality. The Jewel's original nine holes play right next door. It's a modest but interesting nine with uphill and downhill holes. The par-3 7th is certainly the signature: a downhill shot over 200 yards to a green guarded on each side by water. What's really interesting is the back nine is separated by a 1.5-mile horse ride deep into the island' interior to the Woods nine. This nine is a little longer and in dense woods. Unfortunately, we only got in a few holes on this nine before being rained out, but I drove the entire course and there are some really good holes, included a meaty, narrow par 5 with an elevated green. Afterwards, stop inside the historic Woods restaurant and throw a few balls of duckpin bowling. Or, have dinner or drinks outside at the Jockey Club at the main clubhouse, part of the Grand Hotel. The Jewel is one of the more unique and family-friendly options anywhere. And that goes for the whole of Mackinac Island, too. more »

    5.0 stars from 5

    Bay Harbor Golf Club

    "Stellar views on a really interesting piece of property"

    When it comes to resort golf in northern Michigan, the two undeniably most scenic courses are Arcadia Bluffs and Bay Harbor (I've actually written a whole column on the subject before). This most recent loop around Bay harbor was an afternoon impromptu nine on the Quarry with family. Golf course development is at its best when the course makes use of land that's useless or run its course in another facility. In the case of Bay Harbor, the Quarry nine is carved out of an old quarry next to Lake Michigan. (It's incredible to believe this incredibly high-end and gorgeous piece of Northern MI was industrial for a long while.) The hole variety on the Quarry nine is second to none. That said, it isn't necessarily a "resort-friendly" design. The course was originally intended to be predominantly private. First-timers here might need a little help on a few of the tee boxes, like the short par 4 6th or 9th holes. There is some strategy to consider on almost every tee shot, some of which have blind landing zones. Holes No. 3-9 on the Quarry are all marvelously unique and scenic. Together, along with the Links nine, it may be Arthur Hills' best piece of property to work with. (That said, I think his design job at Longaberger aka Virtues in Ohio is a little better - even if the setting is inferior). Staff was great here and shipped my clubs home with Shipsticks after I left, and the bar staff were all smiles as my 1 y/o crawled all over the restaurant. Definitely plan on a round here if you're in the Petoskey-Charlevoix area. And combine it with a round at the more old school Belvedere for a neat yin and yang of northern Michigan golf. more »

    3.0 stars from 5

    Riverside Golf Course

    "Glad I gave Riverside another shot"

    I had banished Riverside to the end of the bench in Austin after a round a few years back when conditions were rough to say the least. But when looking for a place to play last-minute, my golf buddy recommended giving Riverside another look, and I'm glad he did. Once home to famed Austin Country Club, Riverside is now a "muni-grade" course owned by Austin Community College. The good news is that the tee sheet, at least for the time being, is far more open than Clay-Kizer, Lions or Mo Willy (all of which can get really busy), so we zipped around Riverside in three hours. Conditions have certainly improved. Many greens have some wear around the edges but are otherwise rolling very nicely. There are some awesome old-school holes here, and a few that aren't all that memorable (a result of rerouting when ACC campus was built). Like Lions, word around town is Ben Crenshaw has offered to restore the course back to former glory if ACC ever frees up the funding. What a blessing that would be to local golfers it were to ever happen. If you can't find a tee time at the munis or are worried about the pace of play, definitely give Riverside a look. Right now, it seems they could certainly use a bump in play. more »

    3.0 stars from 5

    Wawashkamo Country Club

    "Pleasant Wawashkamo is a step back in time on Mackinac"

    I've been wanting to make the journey out to historic Wawashkamo, opened in 1898 on Michigan's Mackinac Island, for awhile now. And this mysterious club really did deliver. To get there, you have to either take a horse or bike ride up the hill into the middle of the island near the air strip. I grabbed a bike rental in town, put my clubs over my shoulder and made the ride, which took about 15 minutes. (There are gas-powered golf carts for the course, if you so choose, but that feels pretty weird to me on motor-less Mackinac.) This course is far less played than the Grand Hotel's Jewel course. "Wawa" is a members club but invites anyone to play it. There is a small and charming clubhouse with Obi Wan the dog on hand to greet golfers. Just nine holes, Wawashkamo is a fairly simple layout whose small greens are irrigated but the rest of the course is mowed and that's it, so you'll see dandelions & such in the fairways, whose firmness is dependent on Mother Nature. It feels much like a backwoods Scottish club you might find in between medal links. It's mostly a no-frills flat layout with just enough personality on each hole to keep things interesting. The course is just under 3,000 yards with two sets of tees so you can play 18. I was the only person on the course for most of my round and played two balls. Wawa couldn't be a more pleasant and laid back vibe and I'd have no problem bringing family or beginners along to play or just hang out there. I'm glad it's been kept up for over 100 years, and those players who like historic, out-of-the-way courses (you can rent hickories here, by the way) should make this a bucket-lister. more »

    3.0 stars from 5

    Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Club

    "A supremely historic treat near Niagara Falls"

    When I set up my trip to Niagara Falls, I had no idea the area was home to the most historic course you can play in North America (1875). I'm glad I was made aware, because Niagara-on-the-Lake was a real highlight of my week. The drive from the Falls to this town on the parkway is a joy in itself, passing estates and wineries on the left while overlooking the Niagara River on the right. The course reminds me a bit of Winter Park CC in Florida as it's nine holes cut right in the heart of town and gorgeous houses sit across the street. But unlike Winter Park, Lake Ontario and the mouth of the river border two sides of the property, making it wonderfully scenic throughout. Articles in the 1800s suggested this place was a "St. Andrews of North America" and the vibe here is great. The first tee backs up right to the clubhouse and patio, so it's a bustling scene. The nine-hole course, modified over the years, is still quite good with two par 5s and some short and moderate-length par 4s. You really do need to hit some good shots here. Stick around for happy hour afterwards on the patio overlooking the river, where you can see the U.S. across the way. Judging by how busy the course was on a Tuesday evening, I get the sense this old haunt isn't going anywhere. Great fun and worth the drive from the falls. more »