Motoring around Motown
by Jack Saylor
OK, so youve got a week on your hands, confined to the metropolitan Detroit area, and youre a golf nut.
You want to try out some of the old-time golf courses in the area that youve heard about. Then again, there are a lot of new ones in the last two or three years youve also heard about.
To help in your quest and give you a little break on the gas budget, Michigan Golfer comes to your rescue with a weeks worth of golf for your consideration a course of long-standing in the morning, one of more recent vintage in the afternoon. Happy golf.
A.M. Whispering Willows. On Newburgh Road just off I-275 in Livonia, this is a good opener for our week-long task. Just 6,500 yards and not particularly difficult, it nevertheless is painstakingly cared for and gets you off and running for tougher tasks.
P.M. Not a long trip north to 10-Mile Road, near Beck in Novi is Links of Novi, another 6,500-yard that provides more rolling and wooded, water hazards prominent and a little tight in spots. Its a 27-hole facility and South nine is on the short side. So tell pro Tom Sheldon you prefer to play East and West when you make the reservation.
A.M. All rested up for a new treat, we go out I-96 to Kensington Road in Milford at Kensington Metropark, starting early because this one is always busy. Again, its no backbreaker, but its very well maintained, and the surroundings of beautiful trees and lightly-rolling fairways makes for a pleasant round.
P.M. Just a short hop to Walled Lake, near Union Lake, we find Links of Pinewood, a lush course in a pine-surrounded setting with a fine clubhouse complex. This provides you with your strongest test, so far, with the rows of pines tightening the fairways, a number of testing water hazards. Conditions have improved with concentrated improvements the last two years.
A.M. A swing to the east and Macomb County and Sterling Heights where Plum Brook has been a fixture in the Beaupre family, back to its inception in 1927. While its shortish at 6,200 yards, the accent is on good condition and if you can survive your encounters with the Clinton River and an abundance of bunkers, youll emerge smiling.
P.M. Just a hoop and holler northward to Shelby Township is Cherry Creek GC, where a spectacular clubhouse is surrounded by Lanny Wadkins first design effort. The layout is good with a nice mix of holes, punctuated by wetland areas. Warning! play is heavy and often quite slow.
A.M. Heading toward Lake Orion off M-24, we encounter Bald Mountain GC, an old standby in the area and a good test of golf that has stood the test of time by being a Wilfrid Reid design (he also did Indianwood in the same vicinity) and the nurturing wisdom of the Prieskorn family. At 6,800 yards, youll need almost all of your shots.
P.M. Just a couple of miles away and only a couple of years old is the Fieldstone GC, former site of Arrowhead GC, but taken over by the city of Auburn Hills, which was like switching Piston basketball from the Silverdome to the Palace an improvement. The revised course is the work of Arthur Hills, and few, if any, do it better.
A.M. Back to west side Detroit, where we offer about as old a course as we can find, Warren Valley GC, a 36-hole facility dating to 1922 when Donald Ross did his handiwork. Conditions have improved under Wayne County direction, but it wont keep you from battling the winding Rouge River along the way. Both courses measure only 5,800 yards, but play the West if you can.
P.M. Once again, double back north and find 10-Mile Road to locate Tanglewood GC, a 27-hole layout designed by Bill Newcomb, which has matured to match the outstanding clubhouse and appear much older than one which wasnt completed until four years ago. Fairways and greens alike are in superb shape, but the North is easy and short so try to combine the West and South for a testy 6,500 yards.
A.M. Its a weekend and your play will be slow so start early and keep the whole day open. Just a couple of miles from downtown is Pontiac CC, where the late Frank Syron withstood offers to subdivide his valuable land and 60 years later his family, led by son Lloyd, a former Michigan Amateur champion, have continued to run a first-rate, well-maintained sharp operation. Its only 6,300 yards, but its par-72 is no cupcake.
P.M. Slip eastward into the Rochester suburban area and find The Orchards, a Robert Trent Jones Jr. design which is included among the states best. Its upscale golf, but it gets better the farther you play from the wetland-demanded target golf on the front into wide open meadows, apple orchards and pleasant views on the back.
A.M. If youre not worn out by now, you will be by days end as you saddle up for Dunham Hills GC, a 30-year-old track off M-59 at Hartland that measure 6,800 yards and will test every part of your game. Fairways are wide and accessible, but when you find them, you better be able to handle downhills, sidehill and uphill lies because you rarely find a flat one. Good, tough course.
P.M. Good place to finish, by moving a short distance westward to Milford and the Camp Dearborn development of Mystic Creek GC. The 27 holes, Lakes, Meadows and Hills, closely describe what to expect. The course is host to a Futures tournament of LPGA wanna-bes. Best of all, the beautiful clubhouse and lounge will be most welcome as this rugged week comes to a close.
Jack Saylor is the golf writer for the Detroit Free Press.
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