Arbor Hills Country Club
Teacher’s Comments: Loved the old-school layout and good conditions at a bargain price.
Arbor Hills is a classic golf course located just west of downtown Jackson, Michigan. A private club since its founding in 1925, it has in recent years functioned as a public facility. The architect, Arthur Hamm, is said to be a protege of Donald Ross. I’m not sure of the veracity of this information, however, because lots of places claim to have been designed by Ross proteges. If you can’t claim Ross, claim one of his students.
Still, if you’re a fan of classic courses, you’ll be a fan of Arbor Hills. The routing is back and forth, with tees following closely on greens. The course is very mature, with tree lined fairways and much shade. One end of the course is in a low-lying area and plays through a bit of marsh.
Arbor Hills’ greens are small to mid-sized, as you might expect on a classic course. They are virtually all protected by sand complexes. Several have bunkers right in front of the green. In all, the course sports thirty-plus traps.
The terrain could be described as rolling, but there are no hills that will give anyone trouble. This is a very walkable course, and if you’re at all able, I encourage you to do so. Stoll down the fairways and imagine golfers doing the same in the twenties and thirties with their caddies canvas bags, and hickory shafted clubs.
From the back tees, Arbor HIlls plays to 6,513 yards, with a course rating/slope of 70.9/129.The middle tees are at 6,243 yards and a 69.7/124. This is a course where the bogey golfer can have some fun—provided he can hit it straight.
Conditions on the day I visited were pretty good. The greens were in very good shape and a pleasure to putt on. Tee boxes looked good. The fairways were fully grown in. The rough, however, was dry and a little hard. A good deal of that grass had gone dormant. There were a couple of soggy spots, however, in the course’s lowlands near a creek and marsh. For the price, however, it was all good.
As an aside, I wonder why courses insist on close-mowing all of the non-playing areas. Golf courses to not have to look like seas of endless green carpet. Let the grass grow long beyond the fairways and primary rough. It adds both visual and playing interest. It’ll keep the moisture in and save on maintenance costs.
Arbor Hills offers an exceptional value, as far as I’m concerned. Eighteen holes with cart is $27. Eighteen walking is just $18.
The best thing I can say about this course is that it remains on my “have to go back and play” list. I had a lot of fun.