Photography by Brian Walters
While the Detroit
Tigers have crumbled in the last decade
to near-historic lows, with just two winning
seasons since 1989, great public golf in
the Metro Detroit has emerged at every
turn during that time. Coincidence?
a look at Detroit’s real Tigers,
a collection of fun, tough courses to keep
you entertained all summer long, something
those major leaguers haven’t been
able to do.
Hollow Golf Club (9085
Big Lake Rd., Clarkston, 248-922-0300) — After
gaining national acclaim with the Bay Harbor
Golf Club in Petoskey, Toledo-based architect
Arthur Hills hit a grand slam again in creating
this gem, which rolls through 350 acres on
land leased from a Society of Jesus, an order
of Roman Catholic Jesuit priests. Twenty-seven “heavenly” holes,
which emerged in 2000, were cut through towering
pines to give the course an up-north, secluded
feel. Playing here is like listening to Ernie
Harwell call a game. It’s truly a treat.
The restaurant inside the rustic clubhouse
serves award-winning cuisine.
Orchards Golf Club (62900
Campground Rd., Washington Township, 586-786-7200) — With
93 bunkers, plenty of trees and wetlands, this
Robert Trent Jones Jr. masterpiece challenged
the nation’s best amateurs at the U.S.
Public Links Championship in 2002. Opening
in 1992, this 7,036-yard layout is considered
the forefather of the public golf boom in southeast
Michigan. Two ritzy neighbors, The Glacier
Club in Washington Township and the Greystone
Golf Club in Romeo, make a great tripleheader
Majestic at Lake Walden (9600
Crouse Rd., Hartland, 810-632-5235) — This
27-hole Jerry Matthews facility, opened in
1994, is best known for its ferry boat ride
across the 150-acre Lake Walden to hole No.
10. Many locals are thankful the course and
clubhouse only suffered minimal damage when
a tornado ripped through the property in 2002.
One strategically placed “majestic” tree
on No. 10 was lost in the storm, but thankfully,
it made the tee shot much more manageable.
Don’t hit too many foul balls here or
you’ll run out of ammunition in a hurry.
Holes 1-18 are clearly superior.
Hills Golf Club (15565
Bay Hill Dr., Northville, 734-667-4653) – The
926-acre site was formerly a county child development
center until Wayne County sold the property
to multiple developers, making the way for
a great 7,003-yard golf course in 2001. Besides
the more than 650 homes, priced between $400,000
and $1.5 million, the complex surrounding the
course will offer senior apartments, a business
park, a retail center and parks. Despite the
urban surroundings, the Arnold Palmer design
has a natural appeal with its expansive, untouched
wetlands and its golden brown, knee-high heather
grass. Water comes significantly into play
on 14 holes. Since Northville Hills is the
only true first-class course within driving
distance of Tiger Town, it is your best opportunity
to pull off a rare doubleheader — 18
holes during the day and nine innings as a
Ridge Golf Club (1801
Doane Rd., South Lyon, 248-446-9030) – Up-and-coming
architect Ray Hearn of Plymouth sculpted a
great piece of land into a rugged test in 2000.
The 6,892-yard, par-71 is the toughest course
to find on this list, but it’s worth
the drive into the backwoods of Livingston
County near Silver Lake. The 515-yard 18th
hole could be the best finishing hole in this
area. You need to smack a triple down the left
side of the fairway off the tee to avoid trouble.
The approach shot requires another extra base
hit or lay-up with a bloop single to avoid
out-of-bounds to the right. A cozy log-cabin
clubhouse is a popular wedding spot.
Pointe Golf Club (One
Champions Circle, Oxford, 248-969-1500) – The
land at this Waterstone Development seemed
destined for golf with 80-foot elevation changes
and 15 lakes scattered throughout its 1,600
acres. Although there have been some financial
problems since opening in 2000, 27 scenic holes,
with nines named The Peaks, The Dunes and The
Bluffs, and global positions systems in the
carts make Boulder Pointe as memorable as a
dramatic Kirk Gibson home run.
Westwynd at the Wyndgate Country Club (4161
North Adams, Rochester, 248-608-7820) — The
6,902-yard semiprivate course, designed by
Kansas City-based Craig Schreiner, is the newest
member of this exclusive club, having opened
in 2002. With brick-paved cart paths, this
place is almost as opulent as Comerica Park.
The front nine is a fun test of three par-3s
and three par-5s, giving strong players a chance
to post a low round. The wetlands on the back
nine – especially tricky holes at No.
10 and No. 15 – will gobble plenty of
errant shots to even the score.
Creek Golf Club (52000
Cherry Creek Dr., Shelby Township, 586-254-7700) — As
good as the 6,784-yard course is, Cherry Creek,
which opened in 1995, might have even better
amenities. Its 19,000-square-foot clubhouse
is considered the best among Detroit’s
public courses. It is accompanied by a huge
practice facility. Former Ryder Cup captain
Lanny Wadkins and Mike Bylen collaborated on
the municipal layout, which requires some Lance
Parrish-like shots off the tee to clear several
demanding wetlands. Cherry Creek is affiliated
with two other all-star teammates, Pine Trace
Golf Club (248-852-7100) in Rochester Hills
and Shepherd’s Hollow.
Hills Golf & Country Club (2125
Lakeville Rd., Oxford, 248-969-9808) – These
27 holes rumble through some of the most rugged
terrain south of Gaylord, offering up the highest
golf course elevation in southeast Michigan.
The 6,734-yard Hills-Marsh combination (3,390-3,344)
is the longest, but the Jungle nine (3,149)
might have the best personality, with three
short, strategic par-4s under 340 yards. Copper
Hills, which opened in 1998, is so mean, its
slope from the tips adds up to 145, one of
the state’s highest ratings.