by Terry Moore
Coldwater, located for the geographically challenged in southern mid-Michigan, has a new golf course. It's called Blackberry Patch and given the positive comments from its Grand Opening in June, it'll be a popular attraction. "The initial reaction to the course has been excellent," said pro John Fischer. "As golfers learn to play the right set of tees for their games, it'll be even more popular."
The course was designed by Ernie Schrock, a real estate developer from Indiana who also did Crystal Springs near Grand Rapids. Blackberry Patch is situated on 400 acres not far from scenic Coldwater Lake. There are 91 lots available on the site for sale, most of which are on the east side of the course.
The layout is beset with some wetlands which may cause havoc for first-timers unfamiliar with the course as well as wayward swingers. Golfers should study the card carefully before hitting off nos. 4, 5, 9, and 11. "Yes, we're looking into adding more signage at the tee so that golfers will know what's ahead of them," said Fischer.
There are many good-looking holes at Blackberry Patch. The par-five third hole is a dogleg left that just beckons a slight draw. The greensite, as are most at Blackberry Patch, is open-fronted and allows for a run-up. A modest but well-placed bunker guards the left side of the green. It can be reached in two but both shots must be strong and straight. It's a good, no-nonsense hole. My other favorite hole is also a five par, the 502 yard 15th hole. It's a dogleg right that bends around the backend of Blackberry Patch's impressive practice range. Bunkers are aptly placed at the elbow of the dogleg so a bold drive has its risk-reward. Once on the green, golfers can sneak a peek at pretty Coldwater Lake.
There are many nice touches at Blackberry Patch. For tee markers, there are little birdhouses. As mentioned, the practice facility is first-rate, with five target greens and short-game area. No doubt, it's one of best of its kind in the area. The Kirby marker system is used throughout the course, so determining the yardage is always simple and accurate. And the staff certainly is customer-oriented. That includes hard-working Golf Course Superintendent Pam Smith, a Michigan State alum, who is valiantly battling summer heat and humidity in bringing in the greens and fairways. When we played the course in mid-June, the greens were admittedly slow which was understandable given the dicey hot weather and newness of the turf. But the fairways were full and grassy and appear to growing in nicely.
Positive suggestions: besides adding more signage about the pesky wetlands, it would behoove Blackberry Patch to study ways to mitigate safety concerns for golfers and carts having to take to the road after the tee shot on number five. I assume the wetlands were the culprit here for the odd cart path routing because it's always risky whenever carts and cars share the same road. Also, from an aesthetic viewpoint, it would be nice to find ways to increase the views from the course to Lake Coldwater, especially on holes 1, 15, 16 and 17. Maybe some more tree and brush-clearing would do the trick.
Blackberry Patch is priced smartly and fairly. Weekdays with carts is $33 and walking is $10 less. Weekend rate with or without cart is $38. And there's an attractive twilight rate of $25. Individual and corporate memberships are available as well as a full-service golf outing package. Currently, a trailer is serving as a temporary pro shop until the clubhouse, which will accommodate banquets up to 200, is finished.
Blackberry Patch is located east off of exit 3 on I-69, 10 minutes south of Coldwater. But call for directions and tee-times at 517-238-8686.
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