Portage Golf Course Houghton MI
Clubhouse with practice green

Portage Lake Golf Course

The Portage Lake Golf Course at Michigan Tech University is rated one of the top 18 hole courses in the Upper Peninsula by "In Pursuit 1000 Golf Courses". This is an 18 hole course on 160 acres with beautiful views of Portage Lake, rolling hills, and plenty of woods. This course opened in 1920, measures 6278 yards from the longest tee box, has a slope rating of 126, and a USGA rating of 69.8. It has a beautiful clubhouse that includes a large pro shop, locker room, and the Par and Grill restaurant. The course has a good driving range, and two practice greens are top-notch.

Information and Directions to Portage Lake Golf Course

46789 US Highway 41

Houghton, MI 49931-9019

Call: (906) 487-2641

Course Review for Portage Lake Golf Course

1st hole tee box and fairway

There is a big difference between the front nine and the back nine. The front nine goes deep back into the woods, and really only the 8th and 9th holes come into play with each other.

Hole 1

Teeing off, the first hole has out of bounds along the entire right side. It is a very imposing first tee as there is no safe play to the right. The approach shot at the 150-yard marker is a straight shot into a green with a more enormous bunker guarding the right side of the green.  There is a decent slope on the green from the back, rolling towards the fairway.  If you can manage a solid drive into the fairway, this should be a pretty easy par hole, but trees on the left off the tee can make this an exciting hole.

Hole 2

The second hole is my favorite of the front nine. It is a large Par 5. If you can get the large pond in front of the tee box out of your mind, you will have a couple safe shots up to the green.  However, the pond is large!  I have put many balls into this water.  Don't overcompensate because the woods on the right are out of bounds and have taken as many of my shots.  If you can clear the pond, the fair is wide and open with some slope downhill towards the hole.  A long hitter can have a decent second shot into the green.  If players lay up on the second shot, then the 100-yard maker is an excellent play.  From here, the green is slightly raised above the green with a bunker on the right.  This is a birdie hole if you can get past the pond.

‍Hole 3

The third hole is just pure "Intimidating." Out of bounds on the right and left, and very little safe play up the entire hole. Your approach shot is very tricky with the green guarded by bunkers, and if you go long over the green, you find your ball down a hill.  The tee shot is everything here, and you will be relieved to see the fairway.  The approach at 150 yards is uphill.

Hole 4

The fourth hole is a short par 4, but the tee box is way below the green. You can see a flag up the hill, but a two-tiered green means a good shot could roll right off.  There is a bunker on the left that guards a slight pull of the tee.  A shot short of the green is ok.  An easy chip and putt can still get you par.  If you fly the ball long off the tee, then making a second shot downhill into a green that slopes away from you will be challenging.

Hole 5

The fifth hole brings the large pond from the second hole back into play with woods on the right. Drive the ball too far off the tee box will put it deep into a gully. It is safe to play from here but makes the approach tricky.  Woods on the right are out of bounds.  At 150 yards, the approach shot is into a giant green that is relatively open to being aggressive with.  This is a par hole; just avoid a poor drive.

Hole 6

 The 6th hold is a deep par 4. Lots of safe play off the tee box, but the angle of the tee box to the fairway can play with your head. A long drive will put you at 150 yards to the green.  If your not a long ball hitter, this will be a long hole as it plays slightly uphill to the green.  The green is raised above the fairway and has bunkers on the right.  Shots off to the right and left of the green will slope away from the playing surface.  The green itself rolls back to the fairway at a decent speed.   

Hole 7

The seventh hole is a deep par 5 dogleg right. This hole always seems to go on forever. There is outta bounds on the right, and the dogleg will tease you into wanting to cut this corner.  The best play is down the fairway.  It is a wide-open fairway, but the bunkers on the right will take cheaters trying to cut the corner.  A good second shot will put you at 150 yards.  The approach shot into the green can be challenging with bunkers guarding the right side.  The green itself slopes back towards the fairway.

Hole 8

The eighth is a long par 3 into a green that loves to spit the ball off the back end.  To get the ball to stick on this green, going to have to hit it high of the tee or run it up the fairway.  A small bunker guards the right.  A safe play is hitting it short to the green.  Putting the ball over the green makes the second shot very tricky.

Hole 9

The ninth is all about the tee shot into a green guarded by a small pond.  However, getting off the tee box safe is no small task.  Hooking the ball or a strong draw may put the pull into a creek.  The right-hand side is all woods and no safe spot.  A drive down the middle might put the ball behind a giant pine tree.  The approach shot is over the creek into a green guarded by bunkers on all sides.  It is not a long hole but very technical.

10th Hole fairway

The back nine is much more compact, with multiple holes playing up against each other. This helps with wild drives as there is far less out of bounds to worry about.

Hole 10

The 10th starts out nice and straight; there is some out of bounds on the right hand.  However, the eleventh comes down the left-hand side yet is guarded with a long row of pines. Beautiful green guarded by sand is a treasure to open up the back.   

Hole 11

The eleventh is all about the tee box. There are two placements you can find. One placement makes the hole nice and straight; the second gives the hole a wicked dogleg with trees guarding the left and right. There is no out of bounds on the hole, but the approach shot can be tricky if you are not on the fairway.  An approach shot of 100 yards is typical, but if you are in the tree line, good luck.  The green is flat and should provide ample opportunity for a birdie.

Hole 12‍

The twelfth hole is super fun off the tee box.  It is wide open, but tree lines on both sides can make the second shot tricky.  There is a big gully in front of the green that is pure ugly to get out of.   Whatever you do, don't fly this green.  Woods are right behind the green, and it all slopes down away from the green.  The green is super wide but a minimal width.  It is all about a good approach shot on this hole and setting yourself up for a decent putt.

Hole 13‍

The thirteenth is a super short par 4 and can be driven with a well-placed drive. However, a missed place shot off the tee will leave creative chips.  There are bunkers that guard the green, but this is the easiest hole on the course.  Putting the ball to the left off the green into the tree line is the only challenging play.

14th Hole Tee Box and Green

Hole 14‍

The fourteenth is a short par 3 in which you have to cross a gully into a raised island green.  Beautiful hole.  Pulling the pull-left will undoubtedly be trouble as you will have to figure out the ravine.  There is some room right to miss the green, but this is a reasonably easy green to hit.

Hole 15‍

The fifteenth is another par 3 but long. It has woods right out of bounds and a road to the left that you can undoubtedly hit off the tee box. The green is below the tee, so it is easy to roll the ball off the green on a nice shot.

Hole 16‍

The sixteenth is a straightforward par 4, yet a row of pines on the right makes the second shot tricky if you have a slice.  There is a tree line to the left with the road that brings people into the course.  At 150 yards, the approach shot is reasonably easy into a slightly raised green.

Hole 17‍

The seventeenth and eighteenth are both par 5s and butt up to each other. On the seventeenth, your approach shot is downhill to green you probably won't be able to see. There are no out-of-bounds of the tee box, but the tree line on the left is a stinker to play from.  The second shot is into a blind green.  Long hitters might be able to get it there, but it is safe to lay up around 100 yards.  The approach shot is well below the golfer.  Here there are beautiful views of the Portage Channel.  The green can be technical to hit, and you may want to lay up and feed the ball down into this green.

17th Green with Portage Lake

Hole 18‍

The eighteenth is uphill and makes the hole seem much more profound than it really plays.  Woods off the right have taken many long hitters.  The second shot still will get you to 150 yards as it's uphill.  The approach shot has some big trees guarding the green on the left and right.  However, it's a beautiful approach hole to end a great round of golf.