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By Jason Deegan
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?

Here’s 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.

Shepherd’s 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.

The 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 weekend.

The 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.

Northville 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 nightcap.

Moose 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.

Boulder 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.

The 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.

Cherry 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.

Copper 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.

   
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