Battle Creek, Michigan
Teacher’s Comments: A fine muni, on par with many resort courses I’ve played.
The residents of Battle Creek should count themselves fortunate to have a municipal golf course as nice as Binder Park. Adjacent to the Binder Park Zoo, the golf course features 27 interesting and challenging golf holes spread over many hundreds of acres.
As with many courses that I’ve played in the Battle Creek / Augusta / Marshall area, Binder Park feels big. Most of the holes are played in isolation, and on a midweek day, I played a great deal of the round without seeing another soul.
The course has three nines: the Preserve, the Natural and The Marsh. On the day I visited, I played the first two.
The Preserve is relatively open, with smallish, elevated greens. There are no significant carries to overcome, but there are several blind shots. This nine has the feel of an older parklands course, and I would not be surprised to find that it is the original nine.
The Natural plays tighter through wooded areas with more significant elevation changes. It certainly is a more difficult walk. There were more blind shots and more carries. Mitigating this, though, were the larger greens. This side is more challenging and demands more precision shots.
Local knowledge is at a premium at Binder Park. There were a couple of holes where I was unsure what to do, even with my GPS. The routing also was confusing in one place where the path split to two separate greens and two set of tee boxes.
From the back tees, the Preserve-Natural stretches to 6,524 and plays to a 7.4/128. On some prominent signs at the first tees, the course suggest that this is for single digit handicappers. From the blues, it measures 6,034 and plays 80.1/126. The course suggests this for 20 – 19 handicappers. The middle tees are at 5,787 and play 66.5/120.
Conditions were very good for a muni. They would even be considered good for a resort courses. I was impressed that everything at Binder Park was in such good shape considering the extreme summer heat and rain we have been experiencing of late. There were a couple of wet spots in low lying areas, but nothing worse.
I also found it surprising that Binder Park has such a nice clubhouse. It is well stocked with name brand clubs, balls and apparel. The food service was basic but busy.
The course also has a great driving range, a golf school, and —wonderfully—three practice holes. I’d love to live here so my kids could practice.
Binder Park was worth the drive from GolfBlogger World Headquarters in Ann Arbor, and I would love to return. A word of caution, though: If you are traveling to Binder Park for the first time be wary of your GPS. Mine led me astray, and the clubhouse pro said that was typical.