In search of fall color on the golf course, I recently got out to play a round at one of my favorite local courses: Calderone, in Grass Lake, Michigan. I was first off the tee after a long frost delay. It was chilly to start, but I warmed up quickly as I walked.
Calderone is a big course, not just from tee to green (7,004 yards from the tips), but also in the width of the fairways, and the length of the overall hike. I put in nearly eight miles walking that day.
As with many Michigan courses, Calderone is a tale of two nines. The front nine is mostly open, with a linksy feel. There’s no nearby ocean (or even a Great Lake), so that’s a misnomer. I like to think of these courses as “prairie courses,” with prairie grasses, land sculped by glaciers, and plenty of wind.
The back nine is more wooded and thus is a little more protected from the wind. It’s still got the prairie grasses along many of the fairways. It is in the back nine that I find the best fall color on the golf course.
Both nines, however, have interesting elevation changes to navigate. There are some spots that strain the legs a bit, but I have hiked much worse.
Calderone was designed by Bill Newcomb, who has done several of my favorite courses, including The Medalist and the Alpine and Moor at Boyne, in Northern Michigan. Newcomb is a former golf coach at the University of Michigan. I find his courses to be playable, with plenty of interesting decisions.
My favorite time to pay Calderone is in the fall. The leaves are glorious, and the browns of the prairie grasses offer a lovely visual contrast to the green fairways. I always love the chance to experiences some fall color on the golf course.
If you’re in south east or south central Michigan, I recommend a trip to Calderone.