Dunham Hills Golf Course Review

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Dunham Hills
Hartland, MI

Grade: C-
Teachers Comments: Decent course, but conditions and slow play drag it down.

Dunham Hills is an “old school” course with parallel fairways generally separated by lines of mature trees. What distinguishes the course is the terrain.

There is little or no level ground at Dunham Hills. Not only do the holes roll up and down from tee box to green, they also roll crazily left and right across the width of the fairway. On most holes, it was impossible for me to predict which way the ball would kick. A ball landing in one spot might kick left. Fifteen feet further to the side and it kicks right. I have never in my life missed so many fairways after hitting the fairway.

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The terrain makes it essential that a player knows how to hit irons off uneven lies. I rarely made a green in regulation. Fortunately, most of the green fronts are open, so I was able to pitch up for a good chance at par.

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Complicating many shots were large trees that line the fairways. They are not dense; if you get into the trees, you will find your ball and be able to easily pitch out. You are, however, fairly likely to hit several on your round. Particularly on the back nine, holes can be tight.

Many of the greens are as undulating as the fairways. In spite of this, I had a good day putting. The smoothness and speed of the greens agreed with me. Unlike the fairways, I think the greens would not be particularly hard to learn.

From the back tees, Dunham Hills stretches to 6, 771 and plays to a 72.6/130. The middle tees are at 6,291 and are rated at 70.0/126. I think this is a fair assessment. Bogey golfers need to play the course forward to have a good day.

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In spite of all the ups and downs, Dunham Hills was not a particularly hard course to walk. There were a couple of spots that will get your heart beating, but with just three exceptions, the elevation changes were not severe. I was not the only one walking that day.

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Conditions on the day I visited were not particularly good. There was lots of fairway damage and tee boxes were beat up. The greens, on the other hand, were in pretty good shape.

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Pace of play was appallingly bad. Tee boxes were sometimes stacked two deep with another group waiting in the fairway. This, and no ranger in sight.

Part of the reason for the slow play may be in the sheer weight of bad golfers there on that day. I have never seen so many who had no business playing from the middle tees—let alone the back. The other part is that the terrain sends a lot of golfers off the fairway looking for their balls. Too often, those balls are in another fairway, which further slows things as players in one fairway have to wait for a player crossing over from another.

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4 thoughts on “Dunham Hills Golf Course Review”

  1. Sorry you had a bad experience.  Have played this course since I was a kid and it is one of my favorites. Usually in good shape and challenging.

  2. No doubt about the challenging. And I always make sure I equivocate about conditions with the phrase “conditions on the day I played.” Those who play on a regular basis may be able to assure me that the day I played was unusual.

  3. Interesting review.  I played there often during my high school golf “Career” (I use that term loosely) and enjoyed it.  Went back this June and ran into a very similar issue on the front – slow play.  I don’t think it was the caliber of golfer as much as people playing from the opposite fairways and too many golfers on the course.  My playing partner and I are both decent golfers, but a few times, we found ourselves hitting from the opposite fairway (hole 2 / 3).  Once we found some rhythm, this disappeared.  I wonder if you ran into the same thing? I have played other courses that were more crowded but seemed to move.  I felt like I was always in someones way or someone was in my way.  Did you get that impression?  It made for a hectic round until we played the par 3 running along the fence on the front 9 (5th hole). Our back 9 was much better but there were less golfers on it and there seemed to be less people in our fairway.  I found your review interesting.  Would I play again?  Absolutely . . especially in the fall.  However, I would try to go at a different time.

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