For six months of the year, in between its time as a frozen tundra, Wild Pines is an undistinguished nine-hole course tucked off a country road in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Down the gravel drive, marked only by a small white sign, and past the blue port-o-john, sits a dusty shack of a clubhouse with the words “Pay Here” carved into the wall for those who would like to play the 2,387-yard layout. Play once (please leave $10), twice ($18) or all day ($24).
The greens are small with longer fairway turf often patched together with shorter grass around the hole. Don’t expect perfect lies if you hit the hardscrabble fairways. Worse if you miss them.
This is where Hunter Eichhorn, one of the country's most intriguing college golfers, learned to play the game alongside his grandfather, Steve. The two of them often squeezed in as many holes as they could before the summer sun went down.
Eichhorn’s home course is perfectly symbolic of his golf career. He’s never had a lesson or a swing instructor. Even as his talent developed and he won almost 70 local tournaments in the immediate Michigan-Wisconsin area, Eichhorn almost never competed in national events until he arrived at Marquette University in 2017. His family couldn’t afford it. So he learned to dominate around home.
Like the hardpan ground of Wild Pines, Eichhorn is tough and unapologetic.
“It’s made me more competitive in a way,” he said. “There are people who had a better upcoming in the golf world, and I ...
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