the 11th season for Timber Ridge Golf Club
in East Lansing. Age has been good to this
Jerry Matthews design. It’s a better
play today than it was in 1990 when Golf
Digest named it 4th Best New Public Course.
Thanks to the
new ownership/management team of Judy Cunningham,
Kurt Ostling and
David Remick, Timber Ridge should continue
to be revered as one of “America’s
Best” public golf facilities.
Timber Ridge earns its name honestly. The acreage
on which it sits was once a tree nursery spread
out over dramatic elevation changes and accented
with natural wetlands.
The terrain and timber offer a challenging game
in a pristine setting that continues to excite
golfers of all skill levels.
My first go at Timber Ridge was in 1998. The
Timber has been tamed a bit since then; it is
exceedingly more playable. Timber Ridge’s
6,400 yards in length keeps it from being a brute,
while requiring accuracy off the tee and long
irons on several of the par 4’s.
One of the first things the new owners did was
to re-route the course. The nines were reversed
last season and each named in the age-old Scottish
tradition, to reflect the character of each hole.
The opening fairway on the “Eastward Ho” left
dogleg was considerably more guarded on the left
before several dozen trees were removed, literally
forcing you to stay right. That remains a good
place to land your drive. This downhill 416-yard
par 4 gives the player some extra distance from
the tee, setting up your second shot to an elevated
longest par 4 on the front nine is No. 5, “Timber,” measuring 437 yards. It happens to be the number
one handicap hole, too. Aim for the directional
bunker on the left and pray for distance. You’ll
want to be as close as you can to funnel your
shot to the green, which is closely guarded by
tall timbers (surprise) and single bunkers to
the left and right.
Hole 7 is an intriguing hole, requiring something
between a long iron and a five wood from the
tee. Don’t fool with trying to cut the
corner. Your second shot is all down hill to
a medium size green which you should be able
to reach with a 7-9 iron.
The homeward No. 9 is a par five that gives long
hitters about three hundred yards off the tee,
yards they (and we) need to get back up the hill
and the remaining 230-plus yards.
Hole 10, like the opening drive, is all down
hill taking about 50 yards off the 425-yard “Northward
Ho” par 4.
The par 5’s on the backside offer nice
opportunities for birdies, as does the 305-yard
No. 18 is the “Home” hole, but not
the home where your heart is. It can break your
heart is what it can do. If you play the championship
tees, a 250-yard drive still leaves you 200 yards—about
80 of which is water—from home. You definitely
want to stay right. Consider three shots to get
to the green and play a short wedge close to
the hole to salvage bogey.
Timber Ridge Golf Club is a stern but pleasurable
test of shot making skill. The bent-grass greens
are as well conditioned and maintained as any
you will putt on. Can’t wait to play? Visit
Timber Ridge at their web address: www.golftimberridge.com.