Cascades Golf Course
Overall Grade: B-
Teacher’s Comments: A terrific municipal course.
Built in 1927, the Cascades Golf Course in Jackson, Michigan is a part of the city’s wonderful Sparks County Park. The park system also includes a nine hole short course, the Ella Sharp golf course, tennis courts, picnic areas, lagoons, paddleboats, batting cages, an ice cream parlour and the fabulous Cascades—a beautiful giant illuminated waterfall. The waterfall is 64 feet high, and 500 feet in length, with six fountains, sixteen falls, 1,230 electric lights and a system that pumps 2,000 gallons a minute. It’s amazing and worth playing the Cascades at twilight so you can see the falls in all their glory.
The course itself was rated as a four star track by Golf Digest in 2004. It offers challenging length at 6,651 from the blues. A course rating/slope from the blues of 73/136 tells you that it can be a beast.(I shot a 90 and thought myself lucky)
The Cascades offers two of the best opening holes that I’ve seen on a golf course. The first is a 573 yard par 5 (from the blues) that plays downhill to the green. Trees spot the left and right sides, so a wayward shot often won’t offer a direct shot at the green (photo on right, second from top)
The second is a uphill par 5 measuring 530 from the blues. A tee shot of 250 plus is required to carry the first ridge line.
After playing these two, you will be thoroughly warmed up and in the mood for some challenging golf.
The course’s signature hole is number 17, a 388 yard par 4. A canal crosses the fairway 250 yards out.You have a tactical choice here. Try to carry the canal for a better shot at teh green or lay up. I chose to lay up because the green slopes severely from back to front.I then hit a wood into the green, flew the hole, but watched it roll back to give me a short putt.
One of the more interesting holes on the course is the par 3 eleventh. It has the novel concept of a dual green. Men hit the ball 201 yards to the green on the right; women 121 to the green on the left. The right green requires a carry over a pond; theleft is a straight shot down a fairway. The two greens are separated by a stand of pines. (photo on left, third from top)
There aren’t any really easy holes on the course. The short holes challenge with narrowing fairways, well placed bunkers or doglegs.
Conditions at the course were very good on the day I played. There were a few bare spots and some soft spots—particularly down near the ponds—but for a municipal course, it was outstanding.
The clubhouse is simple and offers convenience store food. There is no pro shop to speak of.
In addition to the main Course, the Cascades also offers a “Cascades Short Course”—a nine hole track that has a variety of par 3 and par 4s. It apparently was originally owned by Jackson area PGA player Mike Hill (now on the Champions).
The Cascades Short Course, which lies adjacent to the main course, is exceedingly tight, requiring irons off most of the tees—even the par 4s. Conditions here were not so good … grass was missing in a lot of areas, and the trees needed some trimming to keep low branches away from the fairways. But the price was right ($8). The short course is a par 33 and measures 2,100 yards.
In all, I think that the Cascades offers one of the better golf experiences in southeastern Michigan.
The Cascades Golf Course Review was first published August 14, 2006. If you’d like to add a note on the course’s more recent state, leave a comment below:
More photos follow: