Overall Grade: B+
Value: C+ (overpriced for the current market)
Walkability: B+ (Its hilly, but doable for a healthy walker)
Course Conditions: B+
Practice Facility: B
Food: B – nothing fancy.
Teacher’s Comments: A good basic course.
Brae Burn reminds me a lot of my favorite Uncle. He was never held up as an example for praise in the family, and was a little rough around the edges, but was always a lot of fun.
One of the older courses in Washtenaw County, Brae Burn was built in 1920. As such, it’s a little on the short side, clockign in at 6,411 from the blues and plays to a par 70. The rating/slope is 70/120.
Brae Burn’s biggest claim to fame is “The Monster”, a 617 yard double dogleg par 5. The first bend is left; the second almost 90 degrees right. There is absolutely no way to get to the green in two.
Both the tee shot and your second are constrained by a swamp on the left, and trees on the right. It’s those towering trees that prevent you from going for the green in two. The second part of the dogleg simply doesn’t leave you with an option. The third shot—hopefully at the green if you have successfully navigated the turns—is more open, although it also has a swamp left and trees right.
For me, this hole played three wood to the corner of the first bend, three wood to the corner of the second and four iron onto the green. I could possibly have hit a lesser club on the second shot if I had hit a draw; I could have a shorter shot to the green with a fade on the second.
The Monster is tough, but surprisingly, it’s not the hardest on the course.
That title goes to the par 4 sixth, which clocks in at 422 yards. There is no real trouble with the tee shot, but your second must fly a deep ravine to a green perched precariously on the edge of a hill.
The rest of the holes on the course offer a good mix of challenges. It’s a rolling layout, with lots of elevated greens and tee boxes and shots over depressions. Water comes into play on 17 of the 18 holes, but I didn’t lose a single ball that day.
There are not a lot of bunkers on the course, but the greens and surrounding areas are treacherous enough without them. There are false fronts, dips right in front of the green, dangerously greens, and on one hole,strange rough covered swales right in the middle of the fairway.
Course conditions on the day I played were pretty good. The fairways were green and the greens verdant. I did think, however, that they were a bit unevenly mowed, giving the course a short of shaggy feel. It was nothing that affected my play though (and I played pretty well on that day).
The immediate rough also was in pretty good shape. Outside of that, though, the ground was bare and hard. You do not want your ball to land between the fairways.
You also don’t get a lot of the little details here that you find at more “upscale” courses. Distances are not very well marked (and I question some of the distances that were logged); there are no flowers by the tee boxes, and there is a decided lack of benches ( I guess they assume that people will sit in their carts.).
The course is located across the street from one of the biggest landfills I’ve ever seen. The thing is a mountain that in a few years will have its own weather patterns. Fortunately, there is no smell, and I only noticed the mountain on two holes.
In all, I’d recommend this course for a visit, if only to experience the Monster.