Robert Falconer and his Irish Doodle, Duchess, patrol the grounds of The Loop, Michigan’s reversible golf course. In our minds, this makes him a reversible superintendent. You have questions? We have answers. A reversible golf course is one that can play in two distinct directions. The original reversible is The Old Course at St. Andrews. Scottish golfers customarily played the auld links both counterclockwise and clockwise, depending on the day. In modern times, the counterclockwise routing is the one utilized on a daily basis. The left-hand routing, as many call it, can be played a few days in early April each season. That’s a life goal, if ever there was one. 

In 2018, Tom Doak’s Loop opened in Roscommon, Michigan. It joined the original Forest Dunes course at the eponymous resort. Falconer had been the assistant super at the original course for 7 years, and is now the head superintendent of the new course … courses? The Loop Red plays to the right, and is followed by the left-side Black course on alternate days. Golfers typically play from the previous day’s tee deck when reversing, but architect Doak at times needed to advance the teeing grounds a bit, to achieve desired goals. As for the greens, well, sometimes you come at them 180 degrees opposite the other routing, while other instances call for a 90 degree shift. All in all, it’s a unique golfing ground, and is worth a journey north from anywhere you find yourself.

Robert Falconer is just about the only golf course groundsman in the world with this responsibility. His daily routine demands that he not only assess what he sees in front of him, but what is behind (or to the side) as well. We figured that an interview with Robert Falconer was worth its weight in gold. He acquiesced, and here you go. Photos are his, with the exception of our shot of him and reversible dog (Doodle Irish?) Duchess.

Mo’ Golf’s pancakes at the Forest Dunes lodge. #LoopFixation


1. Tell us your name, your current position, and how you arrived there.

Rob Falconer Head golf course superintendent on The Loop. Was an assistant for 7 years on the Forest Dunes course and have worked at Egypt Valley and Lincoln Hills in the past.

2. Forest Dunes opened for play in 2002. Tell us about this well-thought of golf course, designed by Tom Weiskopf (and Jay Morrish?)

F.D. is a wonderful American parkland style course. Has great shot value, and is a lot of fun. Usually use every club in your bag by the end of your round.

3. In 2011, Lew Thompson purchased the property. What type of seismic shift occurred with his arrival?
Biggest change that occurred when Lew took over was the focus on getting the guest to stay here. Before we were always the stop for groups heading to or coming from some other golf course. With the addition of lodging, The Loop, Hilltop putting course and now the par 3 it is making a big difference.
4. The Loop, a sort of course long bubbling in Tom Doak’s mind, arrived in 2016. Walk us through the design and building of this unique golfing ground, and what it offers to Forest Dunes.
I was not here when The Loop was being build so can’t really answer that one. (For a nice piece on The Loop, head over to Geeked On Golf and read this by Jason Way.)
5. 2018 saw the arrival of the putting course, and it is anticipated that the short course will open in 2020. What do these 2 additions bring to the resort?
The putting course and the par 3 just bring a ton of fun to the resort. Gives people something to do after their round so they don’t have to try and play 36 in a day if they don’t want to.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

6. Back to The Loop. For a first-time player, what secrets will make the playing of each sequence more satisfying and successful?
Best tip I can give is take one of our caddies and if possible walk the course. It really isn’t that hard of a walk, and playing it that way gives you an experience that you don’t often get. The caddies know all the little secrets to help the round go great.
7.  What challenges do you and your staff have with the upkeep of The Loop?
My biggest challenge is actually a good problem to have. We are on pure sand, this makes for a great playing surface to provide the firm and fast conditions, but also can make it a little difficult if we go through a long hot and dry spell.
8. From your perspective, which holes on either routing of The Loop will stay longest in a guest’s memory?

I think all of them have the potential to depending on the guest, but if I had to guess I would say Red 12 & Black 4.

9. What question haven’t we asked, that you wish we had? Ask it and answer it, please.
How do golfers react to The Loop?
The people that get that style of play love it instantly. The biggest thing I want people to understand is that The Loop gets better with every round you play. Can’t really explain it, but after 4-5 rounds you realize how absolutely fun it is and then you are hooked.

Robert and Duchess, patrolling the grounds of The Loop.