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timber ridge golf course

By Randy Prichard

This marks 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 green.

The 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. 12.

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.

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