Classic Golf Courses In Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti
The Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti area is blessed with some classic golf courses.
This article from the Detroit Free Press from 1932 reports on an inter club match between the Huron Hills club and Washtenaw Golf Club. Huron Hills apparently had a 38 man team. There’s no word on the Washtenaw club. I couldn’t find an article on the outcome.
The oldest golf club in the area is Washtenaw Golf Club, which dates to 1898. That title, however, is challenged by the Ann Arbor Golf and Outing Club. However, the first newspaper reference to Washtenaw is August 7, 1899, and an article reporting on the founding of the Golf And Outing Club dates to October of the same year.
Washtenaw is now a public course owned by Michigan Golf Hall of Famer Dave Kendall. It’s my home course, and I never tire of playing its classic design. The current 18 hole course likely was designed by John Sweeney, who was President of the Detroit Golf Association and who designed — along with Walter Travis — Lochmoor Golf Club.
Huron Hills is a Tom Bendelow design that opened in 1922. Bendelow was the Johnny Appleseed of American Golf, having designed more than 700 courses in the early 20th century. Among his other Michigan courses are Bloomfield Hills CC, Birmingham CC, Red Run CC and Atlas Valley. Famous courses designed by Bendelow outside of Michigan include Medinah and East Lake.
Huron Hills is a public course that belongs to the city of Ann Arbor. (Incidentally, Cascades, the municipal course in Jackson, Michigan also is a Bendelow).
Another classic course — private — in the area is Barton Hills. It’s a Donald Ross design that dates to 1919.
I’ve never had the opportunity to play Barton Hills, so I know it by reputation only.
Fortunately, there are a number of Donald Ross courses you can play in Michigan.
The University of Michigan Golf course dates to 1930-31, and is officially an Alistair MacKenzie design. Some sources, however, list it as an Alistair MacKenzie / Perry Maxwell design, which in no way reduces its stature.
The pair also designed the legendary Crystal Downs golf course in Northern Michigan.
I love “The Blue,” as many call it. While primarily for players affiliated with the University, it does offer some tee times for “unaffiliated guests.”
Brae Burn, in nearby Plymouth dates to 1923. The original (now back) nine was designed by Wilfried Reed in 1923. Reed also designed the Old at Indianwood, Birmingham Country Club, Flushing Valley, Orchard Lake, Tam O’Shanter and Olympic Club’s Lakeside in San Francisco.
Inverness Country Club, a nine hole course near Chelsea, dates to 1926. It’s another private course I’ve not had the chance to play. As far as I know, it was a one-off design by architect Dan Denton.
And that’s not to mention that Ann Arbor sports more modern courses, such as Radrick, which Pete Dye’s first 18 hole project. Ann Arbor’s Leslie Park is a Larry Packard/Arthur Hills design. Stonebridge, on the south side of Ann Arbor is another Arthur Hills product. Private clubs Travis Pointe and Polo Fields are Bill Newcomb designs.
My other “home course,” Green Oaks in Ypsilanti, dates to 1958.
It’s the older courses that fascinate me, though. I wonder how many other small(ish) towns in American can boast of a Ross, a Bendelow and a Mackenzie/Maxwell, as well as a couple of other clubs that are more than 120 years old.
The article Classic Golf Courses In Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti first appeared on GolfBlogger.Com on September 27, 2020