Over the course of Belvedere Golf Club’s rich 94-year history, there have been just three superintendents to oversee care for the renowned facility.
Now, there will be a fourth.
Belvedere recently welcomed new superintendent Jordan Caplan, who joins the Belvedere team fresh from a seven-year role as superintendent of the historic St. Martins Course at Philadelphia Cricket Club, the oldest country club in the United States, founded in 1854.
In the course of his career, Caplan has worked at some prominent golf properties, including St. Martins, host of the 1910 U.S. Open, and Militia Hill Courses at Philadelphia Cricket Club, Eagle Eye Golf Club in East Lansing, Myopia Hunt Club in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, which hosted four U.S. Opens during the event’s early years, and Plum Hollow Country Club in Southfield, host of the 1947 PGA Championship.
Caplan, who will work along with current superintendent Rich Grunch until he officially retires March 1, 2020, believes he is perfectly suited to maintain a classic-era golf course setup such as Belvedere’s 1925 William Watson design.
“In an era of modern golf equipment and courses getting longer just to keep pace, I value the history of course design and truly appreciate when classic courses like Belvedere Golf Club and Philadelphia Cricket Club have committed to keeping and maintaining the courses the way they were originally designed to be played,” Caplan said.
“There is a striking similarity in the commitment both clubs have to hickory golf as Philadelphia Cricket Club played host to two National Hickory Championships and the inaugural World Hickory Match Play Championship in 2014,” Caplan added.
“I would look forward to doing the same at Belvedere Golf Club.”
Belvedere, which stretches to 6,906 yards, isn’t long by modern standards, but the challenge lies in the short game shot values around the dynamic green complexes, which feature subtle undulations, ridges, and slopes that fall off to chipping areas.
Earlier this year, Belvedere was ranked for the first time ever on Golf Digest’s biennial list of “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses.”
The honor comes two years after the 1925 William Watson creation underwent a caring restoration using long-lost blueprints of Watson’s original design, which were serendipitously discovered during the demolition of a building in downtown Charlevoix in 2016.
“Jordan Caplan has outstanding credentials in course supervision and maintenance,” said David Gray, Belvedere’s general manager. “He comes with great respect for Belvedere and its traditions.
“He’s excited about helping make this property even more of a ‘must play’ course in Michigan, the Midwest, and even nationally. We are excited to welcome Jordan and his family to Belvedere.”
Marty Joy, head golf professional at Belvedere, said Caplan brings plenty of experience with him to Northern Michigan.
“He’ll be only the fourth guy in about 100 years of this course,” Joy said. “If you go to other courses around the area, many have had about 10-12 guys in that same time span.
“He (Caplan) got married at Castle Farms and his wife is from Manton,” Joy added. “He has an idea of what is expected and what he’s getting into. Hopefully, he’ll be here a long time. We want to get 30 years out of him.”
Grunch said he’s looking forward to working with Caplan over the next several months before he officially retires.
“It’s nice I’ll get a little time and it’ll make the transition a little easier,” Grunch said.
Belvedere, like many of the historic courses in Great Britain, allows limited public play during the golf season and is best known as the host of 40 Michigan Amateur Championships.
It will also host the 2025 Michigan Amateur during Belvedere’s centennial year.
In June, Belvedere hosted the 2019 U.S. Hickory Open, an annual event that attracts an international field of golfers who play with antique pre-1935 hickory shafted golf clubs or authentic replica hickory clubs.
“Growing up in the Detroit area and attending Michigan State University, I knew Belvedere Golf Club as the iconic host of the Michigan Amateur Championship,” Caplan said. “Charlevoix also holds significance to me as my wife and I were married at Castle Farms in 2013.”
Along with its many Michigan Amateur Championships, Belvedere has hosted several professional events.
Legends such as Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Leo Diegel, Alex Smith, MacDonald Smith, Jock Hutchison, Tommy Armour, Denny Shute, Jim Barnes, Alex Ross, Emmet French, Horton Smith, and many others all walked the historic course and competed at Belvedere.
In more modern times, Sam Snead, Julius Boros, Ken Venturi, and Loren Roberts have made several visits to experience the club and its history.
Tom Watson, Hall of Fame golfer and five-time Open Champion, spent his childhood through his college years summering in Northern Michigan and Belvedere became his home course during the summer.
For information about Belvedere, visit www.belvederegolfclub.com or call (231) 547-2611.