Over a quarter-century, Mike DeVries has gone steadily from a promising apprentice to a Midwestern regional architect, to the designer of one of the world's most stunning courses about 10,000 miles from his northern Michigan home.
Having grown up with the opportunity to learn golf at his grandfather's side at Crystal Downs, Alister Mackenzie's (with later influence by Perry Maxwell) famous northern Michigan masterpiece, DeVries had early and consistent exposure to the principles of compelling golf course design. An alumnus of Lake Forest College in Chicago, his entree into the golf course design business came as an apprentice under Tom Doak. Following a Master's degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Michigan in 1994, he worked for Tom Fazio for a short time before striking out on his own.
DeVries' first project was Pilgrim's Run, a public course in Pierson, Michigan, owned by the Van Kampen family of Chicago. He collaborated with original superintendent Kris Shumaker and several others on the design, but his attention to detail is evident in the artistic bunkering and fun, undulating greens.
Pilgrim's Run is the first of three DeVries designs in the greater Grand Rapids area. The other two are Diamond Springs (2002) and Mines Golf Course (2005). Diamond Springs is on a superb piece of ground for golf, and DeVries took advantage of several natural ridges and ravines through the property to create strategic interest and just enough eye-candy. The Mines, on a tougher site, has siz bunkerless holes, owing to the sometimes extremely abrupt elevation changes the golfer encounters. It is a fun course in its own right, and an excellent test of one's ability to handle uneven lies.
Get to know golf course architect Mike DeVries
DeVries' most famous American courses lie farther north in the Wolverine State. The Kingsley Club opened in 2001, and has come to be known as one of America's great "national" private clubs. Located just a few miles south of Traverse City, its members come from Chicago, Detroit and other cities, and enjoy traveling to the club on weekends or for summer stints filled with golf. On Michigan's Upper Peninsula, DeVries designed the stunning Greywalls at Marquette Golf Club, a brilliant design that has featured consistently on lists of America's best public courses since it debuted in 2005. Dramatic elevation changes, views of Lake Superior and rock outcroppings characterize the bold, fun layout.
DeVries' crowning achievement to date is his most remote course: Cape Wickham Golf Links, located on King Island, which sits in the midst of the Bass Strait between Tasmania and mainland Australia. There, he collaborated with Australian golf expert Darius Oliver to build a course that has been compared simultaneously to Pebble Beach and the world's great links on account of its clifftop holes and windswept layout. DeVries moved his family to King Island for six months during construction.
DeVries has also plied his trade at several historic private clubs in the form of renovations and master planning. Siwanoy and Sunningdale in New York have benefited from his services, as has the Alister Mackenie-designed Meadow Club north of San Francisco.