Donald Ross Courses You Can Play In Michigan
One of the attractions of the Rocket Mortgage Classic is that it’s a chance for golf fans to see classic architecture by one of the great course designers: Donald Ross. Ross, who designed (among others) Oakland Hills, Pinehurst and the Broadmore, laid out Detroit Golf Club’s two courses in 1916. See the PGA TOUR setup of the Detroit Golf Club for the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
The bad news is that most of us will never get the chance to play some of Michigan’s great Ross courses — a list which includes Oakland Hills, Detroit Golf Club, Western Golf and Country Club, Barton Hills and the Dearborn Country Club.
The good news is that Ross was quite a busy man in Michigan and there are still a number of Ross courses that you can play. Keep in mind that some of these are munis and vary widely as to conditions. Still, if you are a fan of classic golf architecture, you can see the Master’s work in all of them.
Here’s a list of Donald Ross Courses you can play in Michigan:
Warren Valley Golf Club Review
Warren Valley was designed by Ross in 1922 and comprises 36 holes. As with the nearby Western Golf and Country Club, Ross routed the holes along and across the Rouge River. That creates some really surprising elevation changes. It also presents some really challenging conditions for the maintenance crews. Warren Valley can be wet.
But you can walk for $18. That’s an amazing bargain.
Huntington Woods, Michigan
Rackham Golf Course Review
Owned by the city of Detroit, and adjacent to the zoo, Rackham is really just a shadow of its former self. The construction of I996 in cut through one end of the course and forced it to be rerouted and partially redesigned. How much of Ross’ original design remains is uncertain. One account says that only two holes remain. Another says that the back nine is relatively untouched, while on the front only seven and nine remain.
Rackham also boasts a Albert Kahn designed clubhouse.
I suggest that you get out to play while you can. The City of Detroit-owned courses are under constant threat of closure.
St. Clair Golf and Country Club
St. Clair, Michigan
St. Clair Golf Club Review
While it is actually a private club, there are opportunities to play St. Clair Golf and Country Club. I got on via a groupon. They also advertise rates for unaccompanied guests on their website.
As with Rackham, St. Clair Golf and Country Club is a partial Donald Ross design. Some years ago, a parcel of the course was sold to developers and Jerry Matthews was brought in to reroute things. As a result, 1 – 12 and 17-18 are Ross holes, while 13 – 16 are Matthews holes.
Still worth a visit.
Monroe Golf and Country Club
Monroe Golf and Country Club is a semi private course, which means you can play at a premium. You can read my Monroe Golf and Country Club review at the link. The course was built in 1919.
Elk Rapids Golf Club
Elk Rapids, Michigan
Elk Rapids is a nine hole Ross Design along Elk Lake in Northern Michigan. It’s also on my short list of courses to play.
Rouge Park Golf Course Review
A somewhat more tenuous claim as a Donald Ross course belongs to Rouge Park. While it’s not on the “official” Donald Ross Society list, the course has at various times claimed that pedigree.
It certainly looks and feels like a Ross course. And it dates to the time when Ross was very active in Michigan. As with Western Golf and Country Club and Warren Valley, it plays along the plains and heights along the Rouge River.
Donald Ross Memorial Course
Harbor Springs, Michigan
Donald Ross Memorial Course Review
The Donald Ross Memorial is not a Donald Ross course, but it does feature eighteen Donald Ross designed holes.
One of ten courses owned by the Boyne Resort in Northern Michigan, the Ross Memorial was designed by former University of Michigan golf coach turned architect William Newcomb. Newcomb studied the land at Boyne, and then researched hundreds of Ross holes (visiting many in person) to find ones that both fit the land, and had a natural flow.
It’s a good course in its own right, and the replica Ross holes are the icing on the cake.
Other Donald Ross Courses In Michigan
If you’re lucky, you may get a chance to play one of these other Donald Ross courses in Michigan — all of which are private:
- Barton Hills, Ann Arbor
- Dearborn Country Club, Deaborn
- Detroit Golf Club (North and South), Detroit
- Franklin Hills Golf Club, Franklin
- Grosse Ille Golf and Country Club, Grosse Ille
- Kent Country Club, Grand Rapids
- Muskegon Country Club, Muskegon
- Oakland Hills (North and South), Bloomfield Hills
- Shadow Ridge Golf Club, Ionia
- Western Golf and Country Club, Redford (review at the link)