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Your Three Favorite Public Courses In Metro Detroit


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#1 Moo

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 04:17 PM

The purpose is twofold.  First, me and a couple of buddies have an old friend coming to town in July and we discussed what three courses to take him to.  The same five or six were picked by us all.  But, there are hidden gems we might not know about, so this thread might turn me on to some other gems I've not yet played.  Last year I discovered St. Clair Golf Club and loved it.  It's worth the 50 minute drive from Royal Oak to play a 100 year, "old school" Ross course (with a few holes updated by Jerry Matthews).

So, list your top three public courses within a reasonable drive from the Metro Detroit area.  Toss in a couple of honorable mentions too, if you want.  It's not about the best course, but your favorites and tell us why you love them.

Here are my three.

NUMBER THREE:  The Orchards

It was the first modern course I ever played.  It's a thinking man's course with some interesting angles to play with.  The risk is not so risky, as there are only a few holes with serious trouble, but it's got some bite in the right places.  It is always in perfect condition and the greens rival those at many of the private clubs in the area.  There is not a hole I would change on the front or the back (although I did prefer the back more before they built out the new homes).  It's also the only place I ever got two eagles in one round (number 3 and 15).  I've played it at least 100 times.  Also, is there a better practice area on a public course in the city?  If there is, I don't know about it.  I'll drive up there sometimes just to practice as they have an area that you can pitch to a real green and a great practice trap with that fluffy Ohio type sand.


NUMBER TWO:  Moose Ridge

It's a difficult course and you will be forced to think about your approach on most holes, as the elevations can be tricky and the greens can be slick.  Short game wizards and good putters love the challenge it offers and when the greens are at their quickest, it's a test.  Raymond Hearn is a great designer with his own signature style.  Rumor has it he was very involved with 19-27 at The Majestic and I think that shows in how those holes play.  At least 30 rounds in there and I plan at least 8 more this year.  It's become of a favorite of several people I play with.


NUMBER ONE:  Lyon Oaks.

I realize that many people may not rank this as highly as I do.  The pace of place on the weekends can be a problem.  A lot of golfers that don't have the same respect for the course that diehards do often do not repair their marks.  There are times the greens can get bumpy.  But there is a devilish charm about the design. The front (except for 2 and 4) is a cakewalk, and then you get the back.  It's really 7 easy holes on the front and 2 easy holes on the back.  Number 12 gives me a beating 80% of the time.  How often have you seen someone reach number 16 in two?  I saw a high school kid do it from the blues, but it doesn't happen very often.  Play it during the week and you can get a round done in 3 hours.  Played it at least 100 times.


Honorable Mentions:

Shepherd's Hollow...great course that is a bit pricey.  Some of pin placements (like front right on number 5 at that crest) can be very difficult to putt.

The Majestic...yes the sand is not good.  The greens are too slow for hardcore golfers.  Sometimes the maintenance is not perfect, but it is huge.  Still, I like to play it a few times a year just because it's a great design.  We make a day of it and play all 27, as 19-27 is my favorite nine.

Coyote Preserve...the people that run it are just great.  And the course is interesting and has a few very difficult holes.  It's a drive, but the price is right and it's a challenging round.

Edited by Moo, 28 March 2018 - 06:50 PM.

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#2 swizbeatz

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 04:44 PM

Played northville Hills, coyote preserve, Washtenaw?
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#3 TadWPJ

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 04:46 PM

I prefer Golden Age courses.

UofM,  read my post below!  

1. Roseland Park (Winsor, ON)  Ross,  This course was renovated by Hearn/Mingay maybe 7 years ago.  Great Ross greens, bunkering, and some nice natural features via gulley's.  I haven't played since it went under the knife, but need to get back to it.  Flat for the most part and any easy walk.  

2. Washtenaw gc- (Ypsi) (Unknown), It's great the course is semi private now.  So refreshing to find a golden age track that you can walk in the Motor.  Great land, some really solid holes.  Love the short par 4 8th, one of my favorite short par 4's.  With tree removal and some tweaks this wonderful gem could be really good.

3.  Monroe GCC (Ross 15 holes).  Besides the 3 awful new holes created, The original Ross have a lot of character and some solid holes in there as well.  Some of the short par 4's are very strong.  You will have to get permission to walk for they don't allow Non members to walk for some reason.  Semi private.

Edited by TadWPJ, 28 March 2018 - 07:46 PM.


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#4 CrisPy3

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 04:46 PM

Hard to beat those, and I'm partial to the west side, but my 3 in order are:

1. The Moose
2. Lyon Oaks
3. Fox Hills (Golden)

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#5 Moo

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 04:50 PM

Great, great, this is what I was hoping for.  Already learned some good stuff.  I played Roseland Park a long, long time ago (I think 1992), but now that I know Hearn did an update, I'm THERE!  Counting the two here, three people have made mention of Washtenaw GC in the past week.  I must play it.

Thanks!

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#6 BUCKEYERBALL88

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 06:44 PM

Shepherds Hollow
Coyote preserve
Moose ridge

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#7 Go_Blue!

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 07:31 PM

No particular order and I'll break this up to east side and west side.

When I used to live on East side (Troy):

Blackheath - yes it can be a 5 hour round, however the buddy I always play it with and I always get out before 7, usually around 630. Love this track.

The Orchards - for reasons already stated, such a solid track.

Shepperd Hollow - haven't played it in a couple years, but that course has a really cool feel about it.


West Side:

UMGC - biased since it's my home track and play it at least 2x a week. Such a great test of golf and fun McKenzie design.

Polo Fields Washtenaw - I'm partial to parkland courses and this course is such a great throwback to one. Love playing here and it's right down the road from me, so there is that.

Moose Ridge - I've struggled last couple times playing there but can't deny the beauty of the course. Very solid.
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#8 ThatKyle

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 07:31 PM

I rarely travel east of Telegraph so my sampling out that way is limited. With that considered:

1. Washtenaw Golf Club - By far my favorite at the moment. Honestly, I think this property has huge untapped potential. Random spew of thoughts: Polo fields should be using the track as a way to appeal to millennial golfers not just a 'bonus' to existing membership. Essentially turn the place into a golf-only hangout for the younger demographic. Lease out the bar/restaurant area to be run as a brewpub (it would make a great second location for a place like Cultivate or the Session Room), make the course walking-only unless you have a medical reason, keep it semi-public but introduce tiered membership that would make it affordable for a recent grad or young family to join, etc. Maintenance specific, they need to cut down a number of trees around the entire course, rework #15 a bit (extend that bunker down the entire left side?) and improve the road screening along Packard.
2. University of Michigan Golf Course - I know it's not technically 100% public, but unlike Radrick, you can get on easy enough with someone who as a connection to the U. I don't love how many blind tee shots are on the front-9 but the maintenance is always top notch and the view of downtown from the top of the course is amazing.  
3. Moose Ridge - But on the course alone. I only play it a couple times a year now as pace of play is a complete disaster. I've had way too many 5+ midweek hour rounds and every time I do play there I go in thinking it'll be better only to hit a logjam at the #13 teebox and never a ranger in sight. Part of the problem I think is that their location attracts a large number of very-casual golfers and it just eats them alive with lost balls and elevation changes.

Honorable mentions:
Lyon Oaks- It was a toss up for the #3 spot, I'd play either course any day of the week but just enjoy the unique elevation changes that Moose Ridge offers a touch more.
Northville Hills - Would easily be #2 if it wasn't a 100% housing development course
Eagle Crest - Another course I do have fun playing but only on occasion. It also suffers from major pace of play issues, especially on the first 5-ish holes that can make a round torturesome.
Shenandoah Country Club - I hate the Par 5 16th with a passion, but it's always in great shape and makes you use every club in the bag.
Golden Fox - It's often my go-to when I can get out mid-week. Enjoyable but not memorable.

Edited by ThatKyle, 28 March 2018 - 08:14 PM.


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#9 swizbeatz

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 07:43 PM

^^ you talking about the par 5 13íth at Washtenaw?
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#10 TadWPJ

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 07:45 PM

I'm sorry I forgot that UofM now is accessible I believe it's $100 for non affiliation.  It's by far the #1 option in SE MI for Non Private and top 8 in the state.  Someone said they don't like blind shots, the good Dr would take major objection to that.  It's only blind the first time.  You have so many world class holes like 3, 6, and 13. Probably the most fun course I've played.


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#11 Moo

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 07:55 PM

Keep it coming.

U of M Mackenzie is my favorite course, public or private, in the city.  I started playing it in 97 and love it.  I'm not crazy about the new price structure, but you have to pay for that clubhouse and carts some way.  Note:  I was lucky enough to play Crystal Downs one time, so I have 1/3 of the Mackenzie courses in the USA!

Northville Hills is a great track, but they don't discount very often.  I would play that one more if I had the chance.

Golden Fox is great.  Some claim it was the first modern course in the area.  It holds up well.

Washtenaw is absolutely on my list.  So many here think highly of it.  I checked out that 12 hole tour they have on their website.  It looks great, but I better bring a driving iron as it looks really tight.  I love tree lined fairways.

Blackheath almost made my list.  I know lots of people complain about the pace, but I avoid it on the weekends.  I too try to get that first time at 730.  We've play it in 2 hours and 40 minutes in the morning.  Blackheath, more than any other course, helped me improve my course management.  It's primary defense is the line into the green.  Hitting it big is meaningless on so many of the holes, but position is everything.  I love to watch people play the 5th hole and the 14th.  Why people line up with the tee box and draw them into the woods is just beyond me, as there is a HUGE landing area to the right over the hill.  And 14, when people just pound it up the right side and wonder why they double (or worse) on a very short par 4.  Very underrated course.

Shenandoah is a fun course.  It's been a couple of years since I've played it, but it's got a good vibe.  16 is a difficult hole, if I'm remembering it correctly.

Eagle Crest just doesn't fit my game very well, but I've only played it maybe 3 times.
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#12 Moo

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 08:06 PM

View PostTadWPJ, on 28 March 2018 - 07:45 PM, said:

I'm sorry I forgot that UofM now is accessible I believe it's $100 for non affiliation.  It's by far the #1 option in SE MI for Non Private and top 8 in the state.  Someone said they don't like blind shots, the good Dr would take major objection to that.  It's only blind the first time.  You have so many world class holes like 3, 6, and 13. Probably the most fun course I've played.

3 and 6 are my favorite holes.  One time, a day after they had some invitational and had the greens to the maximum stimp you can have on a MacKenzie course, I five putted number 3.  Brutal.  After the first time I played it I purchased his book, "The Spirit of St. Andrews" from Amazon.  It not only changed the way I played his course, but all courses.

I find 18 to be a very difficult hole at U of M.  I've never broken 80 there from the blue tees, but once I was very close...until 18 happened.
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#13 smith851

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 08:18 PM

Shepherds Hollow 10-27
Fieldstone
Majestic at Lake Walden 1-18

Honorable Mention
Lyon Oaks
The Orchards
Moose Ridge
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#14 ThatKyle

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 08:23 PM

View PostTadWPJ, on 28 March 2018 - 07:45 PM, said:

Someone said they don't like blind shots, the good Dr would take major objection to that.  It's only blind the first time.  You have so many world class holes like 3, 6, and 13. Probably the most fun course I've played.

I enjoy the blind shots from a playing perspective but not from a safety perspective. I've been hit twice by balls there simply because of the blind shots. They just need to find a better way to allow players ahead on the hole to indicate they they are clear for the proceeding group.


View Postswizbeatz, on 28 March 2018 - 07:43 PM, said:

^^ you talking about the par 5 13'th at Washtenaw?

Sorry, that was a typo. I was talking about the 15th on the very south edge of the property. I actually love that par 5 13th. Something is just off on the angle of 15 from the teebox. I'd like to just see them clear most of the trees from the left side of the fairway and let some fescue grow in. It would help keep that fairway from being soggy all the time too and let that bunker dry out after it rains.

Edited by ThatKyle, 28 March 2018 - 08:24 PM.


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#15 1puttTUT

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 09:00 PM

I'll go Shepherd's Hollow, Moose Ridge and Metamora.

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#16 TadWPJ

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 09:02 PM

View PostThatKyle, on 28 March 2018 - 08:23 PM, said:

View PostTadWPJ, on 28 March 2018 - 07:45 PM, said:

Someone said they don't like blind shots, the good Dr would take major objection to that.  It's only blind the first time.  You have so many world class holes like 3, 6, and 13. Probably the most fun course I've played.

I enjoy the blind shots from a playing perspective but not from a safety perspective. I've been hit twice by balls there simply because of the blind shots. They just need to find a better way to allow players ahead on the hole to indicate they they are clear for the proceeding group.


Well the Mack society doesn't believe in reflective mirrors and those are needed on #2, #3 and #7. The other 2 problems is technology is too hot for blind shots there and there is a lot of chops/beginners there being a University course.  So I hear you on that.  I like the light on #18 at Washtenaw signaling all clear!  

I've been hit 4 times by a golf ball, last one was at Washtenaw a few years back due to too many trees, but thankfully the group yelled four.

Edited by TadWPJ, 28 March 2018 - 09:02 PM.


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#17 tommg

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Posted 29 March 2018 - 02:47 PM

Just to update on Roseland in Windsor. The update a few years ago included some new tees, a total redo on the bunkers and retuning some bunkers that were removed over the years. The thought was to bring it back to the original Ross design. Over this past off season water features were added to 8 and 9. The water was covered over years ago to try and speed up play. I’m looking at it as I type this on this gloomy day, not sure when they open but should be soon crews have been out trimming and cleaning for weeks. Greens have been cut.

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#18 countvelvet

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Posted 29 March 2018 - 04:45 PM

1) St. Clair Golf Club
2) Metamora
3) Devil's Ridge

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#19 Go_Blue!

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Posted 29 March 2018 - 04:59 PM

Honorable mention:

Boulder Pointe
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#20 Moo

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Posted 29 March 2018 - 06:41 PM

View Postcountvelvet, on 29 March 2018 - 04:45 PM, said:

1) St. Clair Golf Club
2) Metamora
3) Devil's Ridge

Played St. Clair last year on a friend's recommendation.  Absolutely blown away.  Me and my buddy fell in love with it.  We got in with Group Golfer passes.  Do you know any other way to play it...some other passes or booking service?  Thanks, and what do you love about St. Clair.  Metamora is awesome too.

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#21 widow-maker

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Posted 29 March 2018 - 07:08 PM

UofM -  It's a McKenzie course which means it's going to be challenging
Majestic - Not too many better places to be.  The greens have been rough the last couple of years but the views and layout are outstanding.
Hunter's Ridge - A hidden gem and very reasonably priced.  

Honorable mention

Timber Trace - Can't walk it but a nice layout and a good test
Dunham Hills - Sneaky tough with fast greens
Leslie Park - Public course in Ann Arbor always in good shape and a good challenge

If you don't mind traveling just a little further, I'd highly recommend The Grande in Jackson.

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#22 chachd

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 11:01 AM

  • Monroe Country Club- used to be private but now open to the public. Great conditions and reasonable green fees.
  • Leslie Park - Ann Arbor - Great value and the best muni in Michigan.
  • The Grande - Jackson - A bit of a drive from Detroit but worth the trip.


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#23 spartan6910

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 06:42 PM

I moved out of MI 5 years ago, but I used to work at Northville Hills and Moose Ridge. My dad is still a ranger at the Moose, and I play that course at least once whenever I go home. As a result, I'm really biased in my responses:

1. Moose Ridge - If you didn't know any better, you'd think you're up north. I love the landscaping and the course really forces you to hit good shots often.
2. Northville Hills - My family actually lives on the course and we moved on there in ~2007. Back then it was in much better shape now as it was under better management. Despite becoming more inclusive, I still love the course with the exception of holes 4 and 5. For some reason those are my nemesis holes.
3. Stonebridge (Ann Arbor) - Played it maybe a handful of times but it always set up well for me. Not especially tough, but enough to give you a test. I liked the back 9 more than the front.

Didn't know U of M was public now. Played a couple junior events there and generally liked the course, unless it rained.

Edit to add in seconds for Hunter's Ridge and Polo Fields (not Washtenaw). Played both those for junior events and loved both.

Edited by spartan6910, 05 April 2018 - 06:47 PM.

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#24 countvelvet

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 08:36 PM

View PostMoo, on 29 March 2018 - 06:41 PM, said:

View Postcountvelvet, on 29 March 2018 - 04:45 PM, said:

1) St. Clair Golf Club
2) Metamora
3) Devil's Ridge

Played St. Clair last year on a friend's recommendation.  Absolutely blown away.  Me and my buddy fell in love with it.  We got in with Group Golfer passes.  Do you know any other way to play it...some other passes or booking service?  Thanks, and what do you love about St. Clair.  Metamora is awesome too.
I do the group golfer thing too.  St. Clair has small greens that hold but are really fast.  i also love the layout especially the Ross front nine.

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#25 155 Funson

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Posted 06 April 2018 - 07:35 AM

There's a group golfer out right now for Lyon Oaks, $35. Pretty good deal.


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#26 Moo

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Posted 06 April 2018 - 08:21 AM

View Post155 Funson, on 06 April 2018 - 07:35 AM, said:

There's a group golfer out right now for Lyon Oaks, $35. Pretty good deal.

It's a great deal!  I just wish you could buy more than four.

I jumped on it, as I believe that Lyon Oaks and The Orchards actually sold out last year before the deadline.
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#27 MagicMike4122

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Posted 06 April 2018 - 09:54 AM

Moo-

I don't know how far you are willing to drive from Royal Oak but I live in Saline right outside of Ann Arbor and may be partial to some courses to the west but:
  • The Grande in Jackson is a great course and great value.  It is a Raymond Hearn design and each hole feels like you are on the course by yourself
  • Eagle Eye in Bath (Just outside Lansing) is a Pete Dye collaboration, may not be a hidden gem but if you pair it with Hawk Hollow it is a great day of golf at a good value.
  • I am torn for a third course between Moose Ridge and The Golden Fox in Plymouth but both are great courses.
If you have access to private courses Barton Hills and Polo Fields West in Ann Arbor are great.  Travis Pointe Country Club in Saline is also excellent.

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#28 Moo

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Posted 06 April 2018 - 10:14 AM

View PostMagicMike4122, on 06 April 2018 - 09:54 AM, said:

Moo-

I don't know how far you are willing to drive from Royal Oak but I live in Saline right outside of Ann Arbor and may be partial to some courses to the west but:
  • The Grande in Jackson is a great course and great value.  It is a Raymond Hearn design and each hole feels like you are on the course by yourself
  • Eagle Eye in Bath (Just outside Lansing) is a Pete Dye collaboration, may not be a hidden gem but if you pair it with Hawk Hollow it is a great day of golf at a good value.
  • I am torn for a third course between Moose Ridge and The Golden Fox in Plymouth but both are great courses.
If you have access to private courses Barton Hills and Polo Fields West in Ann Arbor are great.  Travis Pointe Country Club in Saline is also excellent.

I'll drive anywhere for golf!  But, most of my buddies are not so willing.  I'm a fan of Golden Fox, although it's been a few years since I've played it.  Going to do it this year.  I've heard great things about The Grande and someday on a West cost swing we are going to play it.  I like Eagle Eye, but in Lansing I actually prefer Timber Ridge (have a buddy that lives there and Timber Ridge is like his home course).

I've never heard of Travis Pointe, and the other two, being private, are probably not going to happen anytime soon...but I'll keep them on the radar.  Out your way, U of M is always one I love to play.
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#29 jefftomahawk

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Posted 06 April 2018 - 11:11 AM

The Orchards (like the layout, but at that price, you should not see a road, like holes 1,2,3, 10 and 18)
Metamora cc (not a fan of holes 16 and 18)
Black river cc (public, and it plays a lot longer than stated yardage)

honorable mention= Faulkwood shores (old design, but tough)

Edited by jefftomahawk, 06 April 2018 - 11:19 AM.


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#30 Moo

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Posted 06 April 2018 - 11:17 AM

View Postjefftomahawk, on 06 April 2018 - 11:11 AM, said:

The Orchards
Metamora cc
Black river cc (public, and it plays a lot longer than stated yardage)

Not familiar with Black River.  A bit of a drive, but it looks interesting.  And the rates are reasonable.  Have to check it out.  Thx.

Metamora is a challenging course.  Got coupons to play it at least twice this year.  That ten hole (If I recall, the one with water front and then left of the green) is a serious pain!

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