Michigan Golfer ON-LINE

New Michigan Courses--Part II

Black Lake Golf Club

by Greg JohnsonThe par-3 14th hole at Black Lake Golf Club, in Onaway, started life as a sand pit, which architect Rees Jones used to develop what he describes as a Sahara-type bunker that measures 180 yards in length along the right side of the hole.

While a shot of 235 yards from the championship tee to the green requires great skill, it was intended that way.

The hole, however can be set up several other ways with nine tee positions and a wide, roomy green. There is even a ramp of sorts on the left side for those who go the safe route and roll the ball on the green.

"I'm very proud of that hole," Jones said.

The rest of the layout is something to take pride in, too. The18-hole championship course sweeps through the dramatic wooded land adjacent to the heart of the UAW retreat known as the Walter and May Reuther Family Education Center, some four hours of drive time from Detroit and 22 miles from the Indian River exit off I-75.

Jones isn't just talking the architect's party line when he says a good course should be a test of championship golf while at the same time afford an average golfer playing from the forward tees an enjoyable round.

Black Lake seems a perfect example of such a philosophy.

Fake humps and bumps are not found in the design. It flows through thick forest areas, and the bunkering is generous, and classic in style, typical of the work the internationally-famous Jones has done in restoration/remodeling projects at U.S. Open venues like Congressional Country Club and Pinehurst No. 2.

"We strive for holes blending with the natural terrain," he said.

"We just had to go find the holes. And we found some great ones on a big piece of land. It allowed us to really find the best fit."

Late UAW President Walter Reuther saw the Northern Michigan property as a retreat where members and their families might gain a deeper understanding of the union movement away from the routine of their daily lives. Jones was called on to design a golf facility for the retreat, and came up with a classic-style course and also a pitch-and-putt course that are anything but routine.

"There is nothing artificial or contrived at Black Lake," said Jones, who when he first eyed the land was reminded of New England and Connecticut sites where he first designed in partnership with his father, Robert Trent Jones Sr.

"What is so wonderful about this land, unlike rocky new England terrain, is that it's all sand so you had multiple design opportunities."

Multiple design elements are included in the course, which measures 7,030 yards from the back tee positions and 5,058 from the front. Five tee positions are the minimum on each hole.

The course is intended for retreat guests and UAW members, but public play will be allowed on a space-available basis (summer rates include $95 in prime time for a guest, $55 for a UAW member, $45 for a UAW retiree; twilight and off-season rates are reduced so it's advised to call ahead for tee-times.)

The practice area (350-yard double-ended range, practice bunkers and chipping and putting greens) and a unique nine-hole pitch-and-putt course round out the project. Jones is especially fond of the

"The Little Course," a design that includes holes as small as 54 yards, and as big as 117 yards.

"When my daughters were young we used to play a little pitch-and-putt facility in Florida where the girls could make pars and birdies," he said. "Likewise, this little course is going to encourage a lot of young people to play."

UAW President Stephen P. Yokich, who is serving his second term as president of 780,000 active and 500,000 retired members, picked up golf as a caddie at prestigious Detroit Golf Club. He feels the course fits in perfectly with the retreat that features a gymnasium, swimming pool, campground, beaches, boat ramp and various types of housing for members.

The clubhouse offers guests breakfast, lunch and dinner in a spectacular Northern Michigan setting, and retreat lodging is available to UAW members and UAW guests. And stay-and-play golf packages are available through the Mackinaw Area Tourist Bureau (800-666-0160).

Pam Phipps, a leading national golf instructor and the first woman to earn Master Professional status with the PGA of America, is Black Lake's Director of Golf. She said Jones' reputation as an architect is part of the reason she was attracted to the position. "Rees Jones is one of my favorite architects, so I knew Black Lake would be a great course," said Phipps, a native of Oxford, who

returned to Michigan from the LPGA International GC in Daytona Beach.

Doug Kendziorski, a hands-on golf course superintendent, delivers country club conditions on the 300 acres that include 110 acres of maintained turf, nine varieties of native trees and wild life like beaver, coyote, duck, fox, osprey, owl, stork, white-tail deer and bald eagle.

For more information, call 1-517-733-4653.

Greg Johnson is the golf writer for the Grand Rapids Press.

Boulder Pointe

By Jeff Chaney

An abandon gravel pit on M-24 just north of Oxford has been transformed into Boulder Pointe Golf Club and Conference Center.

Boulder Pointe is a 27-hole, Conroy-Dewling designed semi-private course that is slated to open in stages beginning June 1. The first 18 holes are scheduled to open in early June, with the other nine to open at a later, unspecified date.

"We are offering memberships to all, so it will be a semi-private course," director of golf operations Pat Damer said. "But we anticipate the course will draw corporate America based on our location and the amenities at the course."

Boulder Pointe is part of the 1,600-acre Waterstone Development in Oxford Township. Besides the 27 holes - named The Peaks, The Dunes and The Bluffs - the course will have a 26,000 square-foot, full-service clubhouse with state of the art meeting facilities complete with high-tech audio visual capabilities. The clubhouse will also have a banquet center with seating for up to 500 guests.

But the main attraction will be the course.

"We have the capabilities of making the three nine holes from 3,600-3,800 yards, so you can see it can be a very long course," said course superintendent Scott Gardiner. "It has a links feel to it; there are very generous fairways and large greens."

The first two nines that are scheduled to open, The Peaks and The Dunes, are par-36 layouts. The Peaks is diverse, with holes ranging from the 626-yard, par-5 third hole, to the 139-yard par-3 fourth.

The Dunes is a little more consistent in play, with five straight par-4s over 400 yards. Besides the challenging golf, the course is set in a beautiful parcel of land, with 15 lakes and 80-foot elevation changes.

"We have a lot of turquoise, blue lakes because they were mined," Gardiner said. "This is a very pretty course." But, Gardiner said, the water shouldn't scare anyone off.

"We do have wetlands, but the course is not a target course," Gardiner said. "Because of the tee setup, the course is for everybody. But because of the length, it can be difficult."

To navigate that length, the golf cars will be equipped with global positions systems (GPS). "The course is playable for all levels," Damer said. "But it is geared for the high-end golfer. We have a lot of amenities for the high-end golfer," he added. "This will be a good course to entertain clients."

Fees to play Boulder Pointe will be $50, golf car included, on the weekdays; $60, with car, on the weekends.

For more information, call (248) 969-2120.

Copper Ridge

By Jeff Chaney

Doug Treadwell had golfers in mind when he built his golf course.

Treadwell is the designer and owner of Copper Ridge Golf Course, an 18-hole public course scheduled to open June 1 in Davison Township.

"We made an attempt to design a course to pick up all levels and abilities of players," Treadwell said. "We wanted it challenging for the low-handicap golfers, but we added extra tees to make it fair for the high-handicap golfers."

Copper Ridge will have four sets of tees, giving the course a length between 4,900 and 7,100 yards. "If you have four scratch golfers, we think the course will be challenging," Treadwell said. "But on the other hand, if the family wants to come out and play a round, it would be fun for all."

Copper Ridge professional, Dave McIntosh, agrees. "This golf course is well suited for everyone, because of the tees" McIntosh said. "It is a risk-and-reward type of golf course. It is fair, with no trick shots. It is just a straight come-with-what-you-have golf course."

Besides the tee placement, Treadwell also paid attention to detail with the design and construction of the greens. Treadwell went with a Donald Ross-style concept when installing the greens, giving each green an average area of 6,500 square feet. "My personal feeling is that the greens make the golf course," Treadwell said. "We put a lot of effort into our greens."

McIntosh also pointed out that the location of the course should make it unique, and sometimes more difficult to play. "The property is an old farm," McIntosh said. "It sits atop a knoll, and the wind howls usually, so that will make it challenging also."

The course is still in the final stages of construction, with the front nine slated for opening on June 1, and the back nine slated to be open by July 1.

The cost to play Copper Ridge will $38, golf car included, on the weekdays; and $45, car included, on the weekends. Seniors rates will also be available.

"I think Copper Ridge will be an inviting golf course," Treadwell said. "It is a pretty location with a nice rolling terrain." McIntosh believes golfers will enjoy their round. "I think Doug did an excellent job designing the course with what he had to work with," McIntosh said. "If you are hitting the ball well, you can score well. But if you are hitting the ball badly, then the course can eat you up.

"We should have a huge variety of golf here."

For more information, call (734) 287-2060.

Golf Club of Michigan

By Mike Duff

Serious golfers take note. If you consider yourself a "true" golfer, a person that can't wait for the next round no matter what you shot your last time out, or one that at parties searches out other golf enthusiasts to talk to - or perhaps you're the kind of person who just plain eats, sleeps and breathes the challenge of the next round - then look no further than the new soon-to-be-opened (June 2000) Golf Club of Michigan, located off Old US-23 on McClements Road in Brighton. Andrew Soley, the president and director of golf operations said, " It is a true golfer's club, where serious golfers come to play," hence it s name: TGCoM. Soley, an active member of the PGA of America with 17 years of experience as a PGA professional, is quick to point out that, "it is designed for all skill levels; it is a course that rewards good shots and penalizes errant ones." After five years of planning and development, Soley, Lee Norwood (the former NHL hockey star) and John Yates are about to see their dream come true.

TGCoM is built on what Soley calls a "special piece of property," 376 acres, of which 290 will feature the golf course, complete with a rich and diverse landscape, enhanced by gently rolling meadows, abundant hardwood forests, native grasses, 100 acres of untamed wetlands and natural lakes and streams. The course's designer, Patrick Grelak, who had his early tutelage under William Newcomb, put his signature on this course where each hole has its own character and presents a unique challenge to every player. Another key player at TGCoM is Cory Seedorf, the course superintendent, who is a graduate of Iowa State and formerly the assistant superintendent at the Tournament Players Club of Michigan in Dearborn. He promises to provide the best playing conditions possible each and every day. This claim is supported by a maintenance budget of over $500,000. Expect manicured bent-grass tees, fairways and greens with some natural fescue bordering the rough.

The other 80 acres on the property will feature 115 home sites, none of which will line the course. That is by design so the course doesn't leave the impression of playing through a sub-division. As a matter of fact, it seems more like playing up north, where you can think you're the only one on the course.

The course has four sets of tees with the championship markers providing the big hitters 7,105 yards of challenge. The middle to front tees offers a range of 6,700, 6,300 and 5,300 yards, respectively. The landing areas are generous and water, wetlands and bunkers come in to play on most holes. With each hole having its own unique character it was difficult to determine which hole would warrant the "signature" title. Soley hasn't chosen the hole yet but some think it is a toss up between #No. 7, a short par-4 with the smallest green on the course, or No. 14 or No. 17, both of which are par-5s that require careful shot selection. All three offer the pristine beauty of this natural habitat. Don't be surprised if you spot no less than 40 blue heron nests in the treetops bordering the 12th hole.

The 23,000 square-foot clubhouse, expected to open in the summer of 2001, will offer a complete venue of services for banquets and outings, small or large, with first-class food and refreshments along with a golfer s grill, locker rooms and an outdoor wedding garden capable of seating 1,000 guests. The practice facility sets a true standard in golf. The main tee area is designed to duplicate the experience of hitting on a golf course, not a driving range. Soley points out that its split fairway design, with three target greens set among mature hardwoods, "gives the golfer the opportunity to practice the distance and accuracy of irons and woods on a golf course setting." It also has a complete short game facility with a fairway bunker and green side bunker.

The Golf Club of Michigan lives up to its motto, "Beauty by Nature. Challenge by Design." "Believe me, once mature, you will think this course has been here forever," remarked Soley. Nothing appears to be missing. Soley and his partners have put together a great team and they beam with pride. Their concept of a "Golfer s Club," without the country club price, is well on its way to reality. Fees at TGCoM, which include a golf car, will go for approximately $48 during the week and $55 on the weekends. They also include the latest GPS system on their

carts. The course is walkable but there are a couple of holes that are 300 or more yards from the green to the next tee.

Hidden Oaks

By Art McCafferty

Hidden Oaks, the something old and something new 18-hole tract in St. Louis has it share of stories as it enters its fourth decade. In the early 70's W. Bruce Matthews, with help from his son, Jerry built the original nine hole course, then known as Edgewood Hills. W.Bruce Matthews, now 95 years old, did a lot of his solo work in the 50's before his son began to share the architectural marquee in the 60's.

Now almost 30 years later, Jerry Matthews and his team have returned to complete the job for new owners, Pam and Ed Dangler. The return invoked many memories for Jerry Matthews, whose family has built or renovated upwards of 150 courses in the state. The current plan, is to get the new nine safely on board and generating a much needed cash flow and then bring the old nine up to speed. "Frankly, the original routing has held up quite well on the course we did in the 70's. We would upgrade the irrigation on the old nine, put in some bunkers and add some berms and then it should match up quite well," said Matthews.

The new nine at Hidden Oaks was one of Jerry's biggest challenges. "I did 15 different layouts of the course, more than I have ever done for a property. Basically, we had 265 acres to work from, but half of them were wetlands." Matthews had to rely heavily on wetland consultant, Blair Webster, for guidance with the wetlands.

Golfers will find a course playing to 6600 yards, the original nine being generally more open and the new nine fairly tight. They have a nice clubhouse and a practice range. Ed and Pam Dangler has been the proud owner of Hidden Oaks since 1995. They were somewhat inspired by their friends, Mike and Linda Rogers, who built Juday Creek, a fine Indiana course, about 10 years ago.

Hidden Oaks is located East of the M-46 and US 27 intersection, just look for their sign. Give Pam or Ed a call at 517-681-3404.

Pigeon Creek

by Terry Moore

In these times when $50 greens fees are becoming increasingly viewed as a "bargain," it's refreshing to find a few new courses with more modest wallet/purse aspirations. One such course, in the frugal environs of Ottawa County, is Pigeon Creek GC. Weather permitting, Pigeon Creek is expected to open in early June with 18-hole rates for walkers as low as $21.

But don't get ahead of ourselves. A little history is in order here. Owners John and Phil Kuyers set out to build an "inexpensive yet fun" course to play on 160 acres of family-owned farmland located just off 120th Avenue in West Olive. "From the beginning, we wanted a course with a family atmosphere," said John, a dairy farmer for the past 22 years. After playing Boulder Creek near Rockford, the Kuyers retained the services of landscape architect and Boulder Creek designer Mark DeVries to transform their nondescript farmland into a respectable and appealing golf course. "When I first saw the property, I couldn't believe how flat it was," said DeVries. "But at the same time, I saw an opportunity to design some character and personality into the terrain." After studying the prairie-flat topography, DeVries proposed creating ponds and earth berms throughout the course to lend some definition to the layout. The Kuyers accepted and the result today is a course that'll feature 11 ponds totaling 14 acres of water. Yet, aquaphobes should not be deterred in playing here as the ponds are strategically and smartly placed and are not designed as penal and demoralizing cross-hazards. "The ponds at Pigeon Creek are mostly in play for a spray shot--right or left--and are generally lateral hazards," said DeVries.

Adding teeth to the par-71 6511-yard layout (from back tees) at Pigeon Creek will be the prevailing westerly winds that should prove to be especially challenging at times. "The wind will add another dimension to how one plays this course," said DeVries. In particular, the par-4 360-yard sixth hole will be a test. It's a dogleg left around a pond that requires a good drive into the prevailing west wind. But two holes later, at the shortish par-4 330-yard eight hole, big hitters will normally have the winds at their backs and be tempted to cut this dogleg right over a pond to drive the green. "It's 260 yards to carry the pond, so the thought to go for the green--especially with the right wind--should come into play," said DeVries. On the back side, Pigeon Creek features a nice finish with downwind par-five 540-yard 16th hole, a par-three 17th back into the wind, and the par-four 365-yard 18th hole with its large pond down the right side that'll provide lots of heroics and heartbreaks in equal measure.

The fairways are a bluegrass mix while the greens are bent. DeVries says the soil at Pigeon Creek was ideal for building a course. "There was good sandy loam for topsoil and underneath it all was pure sand," said DeVries. "For sure, it will have excellent drainage." Overseeing this walker-friendly course is John Nysee who spent 22 years as the well-regarded superintendent at Fairways/Gleneagle GC in Hudsonville.

Pigeon Creek offers a large driving range and practice putting green and sports a modest, functional clubhouse selling just snacks and beverages. You won't find many "upscale daily fee" amenities that drive up the green fees. Instead, the emphasis is on providing a more affordable, convenient and yet pleasurable golf experience without all the pricey frills. Local residents, beginners, seniors and families will all find themselves especially at home here. Pigeon Creek fills this overlooked golf course niche quite admirably. For more information, call 616-875-4300.

The Preserve

By Steve Ungrey

Michigan Golfer ON-LINE

This is not your ordinary Arnold Palmer-designed golf course.

Ideally located in Fenton, just west of the U-S 23 expressway, The Preserve offers a golf course and residential community in a rural setting, all within easy reach of Southeast Michigan's thriving commercial and cultural centers.

"This is the ideal inland golf site," Palmer said. "It has unique rolling terrain and stunning mature trees found in a naturally beautiful setting. The Preserve has it all."

The rolling site was referred to by locals as Cloud Hill, reflecting its perch high above two lakes and a deep forest. Today, the 18-hole championship course that is on the site reflects the standards of excellence set by Palmer, whose course design company meticulously planned the semi-private club for discriminating golfers of all skill levels.

"We are a daily fee golf club with private privileges," said Preserve marketing director Trey Tollstam. "We consider this to be a signature course of Palmer's, and we have received letters from course users that consider this one of the top courses they have experienced."

The course features diverse holes meant for golfers of all playing abilities. For example, the sixth hole, a 155-yard par-3, is considered the trickiest yet most beautiful hole on the course. Views from the tees are stunning, and the 50-foot drop to a green fronted by a stone wall and backed by wetlands and bunkers demands accuracy.

The 16th hole, a 590-yard par-5, is the most diverse hole, complete with two options for golfers attempting to master its unique layout. The two options are defined by a wetland running down the middle of the hole. One can play it safe to the left, or be more daring and go right.

Your golf experience does not end with the course itself. Fine dining is available in the main dining hall, or choose the Preserve Bar and Grill for a more informal setting. Patio dining offers terrific views of the course, including the imposing 18th hole.

The Arnold Library offers quiet reading in case of rain or just for a moment of solitude. Shop the large pro shop for all your golfing needs, or reserve the Signature Club for private parties or corporate meetings.

Membership information is available by calling (877) ARNOLD1. For information on the course or its facilities, contact (810) 714-3206 or 714-3000 for information on building custom homes in the development.

Shepherd's Hollow

By K. Edward Wright

Noted golf course architect Arthur Hills has been called upon by clients to route courses around any number of obstacles, but how often does a golf course architect need to fashion his design around a cemetery on the property?

In designing Shepherd's Hollow Golf Club, which is located in Clarkston on property leased from the Society of Jesus, the Roman Catholic Jesuit priests, Hills was required to route the course around the cemetery in which numerous Jesuits are buried, and also was called upon to build the course around a residence for retired priests that also is located on the property.

The Jesuits once operated a seminary on this 350-acre contemplative site in Clarkston, near the intersection of Interstate 75 and the Dixie Highway.

Now the property is occupied by Shepherd's Hollow, a 27-hole course that has become one of southeastern Michigan's most eagerly anticipated golf properties.

"The course is built around the house that the retired priests live in," said Shepherd's Hollow's managing partner, Mike Bylen, who noted that the course was named in recognition of the property's former and current residents.

"This is something. It's unique."

Shepherd's Hollow, which will play from 4,700-7,200 yards, depending upon which of the five sets of tees a player chooses to utilize, plans to open 18 holes in July, with the final nine holes scheduled to open in September.

"It is uncommon to get a piece of property like this," Bylen said. "We have 350 acres for these 27 holes, and there are some 18-hole courses built on 100 acres. It is a very serene site. It is very much a sanctuary. That's the way it feels."

The Shepherd's Hollow site in Clarkston also features hardwoods, ponds, and enough rolling landscape to provide not-too-challenging elevation changes. "We have very good elevation change on this golf course, but it is not so severe so as to make it less than enjoyable," Bylen said. "We have significant elevation changes, but those changes are gentle. It is nice rolling terrain."

A complete practice facility at Shepherd's Hollow will include a driving range, chipping area, pitching area and practice green. The clubhouse, which is expected to measure 8,000 square feet, will include a full pro shop and restaurant.

"I really believe that the three nines are all very strong nines," Bylen said. "I'm sure that once people get out there and start playing this course, everybody will have their personal preferences, their favorite nine or their favorite 18, but I don't think that will be unilateral."

Bylen noted that the four ponds at Shepherd's Hollow occupy only five of the property's 350 acres. He also noted that the third nine is located in the portion of the property where the Jesuits established their cemetery, as well as the Stations of the Cross.

Bylen said that the course should be considered upscale and that golf cars will be mandatory during the busiest times of the week. "You will always be able to walk, in the evenings or in the mornings," Bylen said, "but each of these nine is built on about 115 acres, so you would need to be a mountain goat to walk and carry your bag here."

For more information call Shepherd's Hollow at (248) 852-0200.

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