Golf Trails: I-94 - Ann Arbor to Port Huron
With its heavy truck traffic, giant potholes, constant construction, noise, factory views, and cheesy billboards, the drive along I-94 from Ann Arbor to Port Huron can be about as pleasant as a long line at the first tee of your last-choice municipal course on a 100-degree day.
Viewed from behind the wheel of a golf car rather than a car stuck in traffic, the I-94 Golf Trail has hidden delights. Think of the traffic as a builder of patience for those inevitable back-nine bogies. Think of those potholes as hazards to be overcome with smart play. And humor us in this black-and-white billboard for six fun ways to play in the Motown area.
Leslie Park Golf Course (Ann Arbor)
One of the state's best municipal courses, Leslie Park also is a hotbed for competitive play. Each July, more than 150 players compete in the Ann Arbor City Championship. The tournament draws players from throughout Metro Detroit.
"Allowing non-residents of Ann Arbor to compete helps with the quality of the field," said Leslie Park manager Matt Horning. "In the past five years the quality of the players has increased significantly. It used to be you could make the championship flight with two scores in the low 80s. Now you definitely need two rounds in the 70s."
Rounds in the 70s can be hard to come by at Leslie. While only 6,591 yards from the tips, the course is lengthened by deep rough, big hills, and several long par-4s that often play into the wind. The par-72 course has a slope of 127. Greens fees run $36 with cart on weekends.
For those ready for Leslie's competition, there's still time to sign up for the annual fall scramble, a three-man event held on Sept. 15 this year. Bring your best hitters and prepare to shoot at least 10-under to win the one-day event.
Call (734) 994-1163 for tee times and more information.
Eagle Crest Golf Club (Ypsilanti)
The par-72 layout features a tough slope of 138 from the tips, but multiple tees make it playable for all skill levels. Pretty par-3s and some par-5s that reward your risk make for an exciting day.
After golf, sample some of Ypsilanti's undiscovered nightlife and dining. A few suggestions: the succulent pork chops at Haab's steakhouse, an authentic Mexican feast at La Fiesta Mexicana, billiards and cocktails at Sticks bar, or burgers and beer at the Sidetrack pub.
Call (734) 487-2441 for tee times and more information.
Taylor Meadows Golf Club (Taylor)
You can see some of that character while driving eastbound on I-94. Notice the greens on the holes adjoining the freeway - they're elevated, well-bunkered, and well-contoured. Those features can make the 6,050-yard, par-71 course slightly tougher than its 116 slope.
It's $43 to ride or $30 to walk on the weekends. Senior and twilight specials are available. So is a brand new $2.5 million banquet hall expansion on the clubhouse.
Call (734) 784-4653 for tee times or more information.
Chandler Park Golf Course (Detroit)
"The course is in the best shape it's ever been in," said assistant manager Darren Petras. "It really doesn't look like much from the parking lot, but the rough is long and you can easily lose balls in it. The greens are extremely challenging for a municipal course."
The 6,000-yard, par-71 layout carries a slope of 109 and birdies are readily available. True birdie hunters might hang around the clubhouse looking for a skins game. Competitive side matches take place regularly.
Call (313) 331-7755 for tee times or more information.
Rattle Run Golf Course (St. Clair)
"It's like being at Treetops," said Rattle Run pro Jim Mrozinksi. "It's an up-north feeling right here near the big city."
Escaping the big city and mayhem of suburbia is easy on Friday nights at Rattle Run. A couples league always open to new players features nine holes with cart and dinner for $50 per couple. Other regularly updated specials, and full-color maps of every hole on the 6,865-yard, par-72 layout are available online at www.rattlerun.com.
Call (810) 329-2070 for tee times or more information.
Black River Golf Club (Port Huron)
"Players love it," said Black River pro Jim Ransberger. "It's still conditioned just like a country club."
The classic course is tree-lined on almost every fairway and features smallish, undulating greens. You'll pay $46 to ride on weekends on the par-71, 6,500-yard layout.
Top players can see how well they measure up against tough competition. Black River has hosted qualifiers for major tournaments, including the Michigan Amateur, U.S. Amateur and the Buick Open.
Call (810) 982-9595 for tee times or more information. MG
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