Ann Arbor - A golf destination that has it all
by Susan Bairley
Home to the University of Michigan and widely popular Summer Art Fairs, Ann Arbor may not be near the top of most golf destination lists, but it really should be.
The Ann Arbor area boasts a great selection of public and private golf courses that showcase the work of some of golf's finest architects. From Alister MacKenzie's revered semi-private University of Michigan Golf Course and the Donald Ross members-only Barton Hills Country Club to public courses like Karl Litten's Eastern Michigan University Huron Golf Club and Arthur Hills' Stonebridge and Golden Fox, the area could be considered a golf mecca. Within a 15-mile radius of downtown Ann Arbor, there are more than 20 public golf courses and 10 private or semi-private golf clubs.
But what makes Ann Arbor truly exceptional is that there's great golf and so much more. Music and art, cultural events, Big Ten and Mid-American Conference sports, specialty and antique shops, gourmet and ethnic restaurants, coffee shops and brew pubs, New York-style delicatessens, historic and natural beauty_the Ann Arbor area seems to have it all.
"I'd have to say, we're a cultured golf destination," said David Serino, marketing and sales director at the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. "We have the whole package, plus we're conveniently located near 1-94 and US-23, and we're only 25 miles from Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
"We offer an excellent selection of quality golf courses, each with unique appeal, and each distinctively different," Serino added. "The setting is what really makes us nice. Ann Arbor is a European-style community with an incredible variety of amenities and beautiful natural features. Entertainment and dining, a vibrant downtown, great shopping, art and antiques, museums like the Hands-On Museum for kids; we offer a great package for families" he said.
Ann Arbor area golf courses also continue to attract a fair share of significant golf events. This year, Travis Pointe Country Club again will be the site of the Michigan Women's Open, the University of Michigan will host the Michigan Men's Amateur Championship, and in 1998, Barton Hills Country Club will be the site of the USGA Women's National Amateur Championship. It also wasn't too long ago that a young junior golfer named Tiger Woods was a runner-up in the National Independent Insurance Agents Junior Classic at U-M's Pete Dye course, Radrick Farms.
For more information about Ann Arbor area golf and lodging, call the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1-800-888-9487.
EMU Huron Golf Club
Eastern Michigan University's 6,755-yard Huron Golf Club is Washtenaw County's only resort course. As part of a Marriott hotel/EMU conference center complex, the EMU Huron Golf Club offers a challenging and scenic test of golf. Located on the shores of Ford Lake, the course designed by Karl Litten Inc. brings beautiful vistas, rolling terrain and lots of water into play.
The 490-yard, par 5, 16th hole, with its peninsular green on the lake, is a personal favorite and epitomizes the character and beauty of the course.
Located at 1275 S. Huron St. in Ypsilanti, call (313)487-2441.
Fox Hills Country Club
Established in 1921, Fox Hills Country Club offers 45 holes of golfing pleasure and challenge. Of the original golf course, only The Hills nine remains untouched, while The Lakes and Woodlands courses have had 11 holes redesigned and/or renovated. Seven years ago, the complex added The Golden Fox, a 6,783-yard championship course designed by Arthur Hills, which has attracted many new players to the club.
"It's really like we have two different courses that attract two different kinds of players," said course owner Sandy Mily. Noted for its customer service, the courses host clinics for juniors, senior leagues and last year, offered a beginner golf league, which Mily said "went over big.,' The 500-acre complex also has beautiful, full service banquet facilities.
Located at 8768 N. Territorial in Plymouth, call (313)453-7272.
This Ypsilanti Township course was a little ragged around the edges until it benefited from some course improvement funds garnered from the state several years ago. The funding gave the 6,780-yard course a needed boost and it remains an attractive and interesting neighborhood course.
Located at 1775 E. Clark Road in Ypsilanti, call (313)485-0881.
Located in the northeast corner of Washtenaw County, Hickory Creek is true to its name_that doggone creek comes into play on at least 9 holes. Add about seven ponds and you've got it, better bring that ball retriever!
Located at 3625 Napier Road in Superior Township, call (313)454-1850.
Offering perhaps the most dramatic elevation changes of any course in the area, Hickory Sticks is visually very appealing and at the same time, pretty tricky. Although opened in 1995, some of the newly constructed greens and steep elevations didn't mix well, so owner Bill Wedemeyer closed the front nine last year and hired Bill Newcomb to come to the rescue. This year, both nines of the new and improved Hickory Sticks will be ready for full play. It's a challenging course with rolling greens, and definitely not a walking course.
Located at 8753 Pleasant Lake Road in Ann Arbor, call (313) 913-8140.
Billed as "The Best Little Nine-Hole Golf Course in the World," this 2,715-yard course reminds us that golf really can be fun. The course is great for beginners and mid-level players and is home to annual tournaments like the Hickory Cup and PMS Open and night-time golf tourneys. (Yes, those glow-in-the-dark balls, really are put to use!)
Located at 5415 Crane Road in Ypsilanti, call (313) 434-GOLF.
Hudson Mills Metropark Golf Course
Southeastern Michigan's Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority has developed some beautiful golf courses and Hudson Mills Metropark is no exception. Located on the Huron River flood plain, the front nine of Hudson Mills plays long and open, with ample wetlands in play. The wooded back nine of this 6,560-yard course features a pair of characteristic back-to-back par S's; a 478-yard dogleg right, then 498-yard dogleg left, keeping those fairway woods in use down the home stretch.
Located at 4800 Dexter-Pinckney Road in Dexter, call (313)426-0466.
Huron Hills Golf Course
One of two municipal courses operated by City of Ann Arbor, Huron Hills is a "little" gem. While relatively short in terms of total yardage, 5,049 yards, the course has beautiful features that make it a favorite for area golfers. The first seven holes are fairly flat and rolling, yet provide some scenic views of the Huron River, particularly when that somewhat pesky, but pretty, purple loosestrife is in full bloom.
Cross the parkway for holes 8, 9 and the back nine and you're in a whole different world. The ninth hole is tagged for sledding in the winter, and the eighth hole takes you almost to the hilltop. You get the picture. The 2,128-yard back nine is diverse, attractive and hilly. It calls for pressing those long irons and wedges, and is a wonderful walking course.
Located at 3465 Huron River Drive in Ann Arbor, call (313)971-6840.
Leslie Park Golf Course
Previously voted as one of Michigan's top 10 municipal courses by the Michigan Golfer, the City of Ann Arbor's Leslie Park Golf Course is not a course for beginners. Its rugged terrain can be pretty unforgiving, yet the course has an unmistakable allure.
Closed most of last year for renovations by Arthur Hills, the course reopened in the fall, playing better than ever. Hills maintained the character and integrity of the original design, but took the best of Leslie Park and made it even better. Changing some of the greens, leveling landing areas and improving irrigation were among the improvements. The most dramatic changes included a new pond on the eighth hole, which greatly improved the hole's aesthetics and playability, and the redesign of the 10th hole, which transformed a formerly nondescript hole into one with substance and challenge.
Located at 2120 Traver Road in Ann Arbor, call (313) 994-1163.
Links at Whitmore Lake
This 6,051-yard Bill Newcomb course covers 254 acres, nearly one-half of which are protected wetlands. And while the front nine is a beautiful uplands course, with tee to green bent grass, the back nine is truly unique. Five boardwalks, including one nearly a quarter-mile long, traverse acres of wetlands. The course offers lots of variety, including teeing decks placed in the middle of marshland and nice opportunities to enjoy wildlife.
Located at 1111 Six Mile Road in Whitmore Lake, call (313)449-GOLF.
Pierce Lake Golf Course
Few courses offer spectacular starting holes, but one that cuts right to the chase is Washtenaw County Authority's new Pierce Lake Golf Course in Chelsea. With its broad fairway, towering trees and large, well-bunkered, elevated green, the 347-yard first hole welcomes you to the course with incredible majesty. The rest of the front nine provides generous fairways lined with tall grasses and gentle mounding, giving the course an open highlands feel.
In contrast the back nine is very tight and requires lots of carries over marshlands. The 8th finishing hole, at 216 yards, is a grand par 3 with tee to green wetlands, although you can bail out to the left if you fear the carry. Designed by Harry Bowers, who also designed The Rock on Drummond Island, Pierce Lake features expansive greens that often make you feel like once you're there, you're only halfway to completing the hole.
Located at 1175 South Main St. (M-52) in Chelsea, call (313) 475-5858.
Pine View Golf Course
With its 6,526-yard regulation course and 1,818-yard "Little Pine Nine," Pine View Golf Course is a friendly establishment that welcomes golfers of all playing abilities. Owned and managed by Greg Hodges, the course was opened in 1990 as a central feature for several housing developments. For the most part, the front nine is wide open and rolling, sporting some interesting greens, particularly the three-tiered fourth green. The back nine is cut through a towering pine forest, that offers a Northern Michigan feel. With its narrow fairways, most players will see better scores on the back by tucking away their woods and playing their long irons.
Located at 5820 Stoney Creek Road in Ypsilanti, call (313)481-0500 or 1-800-214-5963.
Reddeman Farms Golf Club
Like its name implies, Reddeman Farms offers challenging golf in a truly peaceful and pastoral setting. The 6,513-yard championship course, complete with red barn centerpiece and country creek, features rolling fairways and undulating greens.
Established in 1990, the course has an open front nine and attractive, wooded back nine, with water coming into play on 13 of its holes. Its beautiful clubhouse offers a full- service restaurant and banquet facilities. With fours sets of tees, including two that are rated and sloped for women and three rated and sloped for men, Patty McCarthy, one of the course owners, said Reddeman Farms is designed to accommodate any caliber of player. That's part of its commitment to customer service. "We do whatever we can to ensure that our guests have a good time and a quality golf experience," she said.
Located at 555 S. Dancer Road in Chelsea, call (313) 475-3020.
Stonebridge Golf Club
Offering a links layout that winds through an exclusive housing development, this Arthur Hills design combines great golf amid some stunning residential architecture. Complete with fieldstone bridges, the course stretches 6,932 yards from its tournament tees, traversing varied terrain, woods and wetlands. Water, in the form of creeks and ponds, comes into play on at least 11 homes, including the 381-yard, par 4 seventh. Bordered by large fairway bunkering on the left and a ribbon of rough all around, a creek totally surrounds the seventh hole's fairway and green.
Located at 5315 Stonebridge Drive South, call (313) 429-8383 or 1-800-852-4518.
University of Michigan Golf Course
Even die-hard Spartans or Buckeyes might consider striking up a Wolverine friendship or two, just for the chance to play this classic Alister MacKenzie U-M golf course. Requiring at least one member of every foursome to be a card-carrying alumnus/alumna, a high-level donor, or faculty, staff or student, guests can enjoy golf "the way it was meant to be." Recently restored to its original MacKenzie design by Arthur Hills as part of a $3.1 million restoration effort, the course is quite simply, spectacular.
Located at 500 East Stadium Blvd., call (313) 663-5005.
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