Teacher’s Comments: Poor conditions deter this course’s aspirations.
Angel’s Crossing gets a lot of love from various national golf magazines, which consistently list the course on “Top Ten or Twenty In Michigan” lists. It is an interesting course, but I would not place it among Michigan’s Top courses.
Designed as a links style course, Angels Crossing has wide fairways, enormous greens and large threatening bunkers.
There are also carries over swamps, some tree lined fairways and one- and two- club elevation changes up and down some rolling topography.
There was, however, no game changing wind and certainly no bodies of water.
It is therefore not a links course, but a prairie course with links aspirations.
It is still an interesting layout. One and ten share an enormous double fairway. Three and twelve are essentially blind par threes—you can see the flag, but the elevates plateau keeps all but the front edge of the green hidden. Nine has an enormous bunker in the middle of the fairway that punishes the straightest hitters (I hooked and was safe). Seventeen is a dogleg left par five with a severe right to left slope that will leave a good many players with a two-up iron over a swamp up a cliff to a plateaued green.
From the back tees, Angels Crossing measures 7,169 yards and plays to a 135/74.3. The Middle tees come in at 5,558 and a 127/72.3. Play it forward.
The greens are worth mentioning again. Many are simply enormous and I was often elated to hit a good shot to the green only to be dismayed when I arrived and found myself miles from the hole. One of the greens is said to actually be 70 yards deep.
In fact, everything about this Bruce Matthews design is big. The course itself is laid out over 700 acres of land. Even when you can see people on other holes, they seem distant and tiny.
Matthews wrote of the course:
On the Angels Crossing website, Matthews writes:
The layout looks and plays like a 100-year old course. Angels Crossing blends well with its surrounding environment. The simple elegance of the grand old courses and Angels Crossing are defined by the routing. The formula “work with what the property lends itself to” works as well today as it did 100 years ago …
After reviewing the site, analyzing topographic and aerial mapping, tee and green locations were selected. The owner’s goal of the old style course was also discussed. Several of the green sites were similar to green sites of many golden age clubs. From there we developed a routing that blends power, accuracy and finesse testing both physical and mental skills …
For the serious student of the game several design techniques and styles will be evident. Standing on traditional rectangular tee boxes, the golfer may recognize two cape holes, a redan, a punch bowl, a biarritz and a long, all reminiscent of the originals. The bunkering features steep, bold grass faces and flat sand. Various classic bunker designs include bottleneck bunkers, carry bunkers, a cardinal bunker and a principal’s nose.
So far, so good, but conditions on the day I played were poor. There was some sort of creeping weed in the fairway and quite a few dead spots. Worse were the greens, which were marred by dead and diseased grass and bare spots. A couple of areas looked like the should have been ponds but instead were gravel strewn depressions.
If Angels Crossing was an unaspiring muni much of this would be acceptable. But this is supposed to be a top ten course. Expectations outran reality.
In the final analysis, Angels Crossing is a big interesting course, but based on conditions would not make my personal Top Twenty in Michigan list. Play it if you’re in the area, but don’t make a pilgrimage.