Inkster Valley Golf Course
Teacher’s Comments: My dislike of the design was exacerbated by the appallingly poor conditions.
I cannot think of a circumstance in which I would return to Inkster Valley. There are simply too many quality golf courses in southeastern Michigan for me to waste more time on this dog track.
Conditions were nothing short of appalling. It is in fact the worst-kept golf course I have played in a very long time. Some allowances have to be made for the fact that much of the course is on a flood plain. However, there are a great many courses on the River Rouge flood plain, and I’ve not seen anything like this.
Virtually all of the fairways had wide swaths of dead and rotting grass. Sinkholes had appeared in the middle of the fairways and were filled with oily residue. Large patches of mud showed the tracks of carts that had driven through, sliding and struggling to gain traction. And even on these heavily damaged areas, the mowers were out there, sloshing their way through and cutting away.
The fairway on the par 5 thirteenth was literally unplayable, for the entire thing had been roped off. I played three shots from the unmown rough.
And still the course was permitting carts to drive on the fairways. I observed players abusing this freedom, too, spinning their wheels on the grass and plunging straight through standing water.
There were problems even on high ground. Traps well above the flood area were full of water. Some have been untended for so long that marsh grasses were growing in them. High ground tee boxes and fairways were only marginally better than the low.
The teeing grounds were completely shredded, while other areas of the tee boxes were untended and unmarked by divots. It looked to me as though the tee markers had not been moved in weeks.
The excuse for all of this could perhaps be an unusually wet summer. According to Weather.Com data, however, this is not so. Historically, the average rainfall for the previous 30 days was 3.37 inches. The average for 2013 was 3.45 inches.
I usually write my reviews with the conditional “on the day I visited.” I understand that uncontrollable weather conditions have much to say about a course’s conditions and that they sometimes are beyond a groundskeeper’s control. However, veteran golfers can tell when a course is, overall, lovingly cared for, or neglected.
Inkster Valley is neglected. A heavy rainstorm—or a week’s worth of rain (which there was not prior to my playing Inkster Valley) will leave water in bunkers and fairways soggy. But lovingly-cared for courses pump out the deep bunker water and keep carts off wet fairways. Inkster Valley had bunkers that had been so long under water that marsh grasses had moved in. Seedlings of shrubs were growing on tee boxes. Carts were driving willy nilly around the course, aggravating the conditions.
Even if the conditions were terrific, I still would not be a fan of the course.
The distinguishing characteristic of this course is the blind shot. Blind tee shots. Blind approach shots. Blind second shots on par fives. One hole, the par 4 eleventh, not only had a blind tee shot; it also had a blind shot into the green.
Most of these blind shots are created by tall marsh grasses that come into play as the routing criss-crosses the River Rouge and the accompanying marshlands. I’ve played marshlands courses, before, however, and not seen such a wreck of a design. If a designer knows that marshes are going to block view after view, he can elevate tees and greens to create better sight lines. Or—as in the case of several marsh courses I’ve played—groundskeepers can trim the height of the view-blocking shubbery.
It is frustrating to play one hole after another where you don’t know where your tee shot is supposed to land or where your view of the green—and even the flag—is blocked. I started to hit and pray: hit the ball in a general direction, and pray that I can find it. That’s especially frustrating and unnecessary on shots into the green.
A 230 yard carry over the River Rouge. The fairway is over that solid line of trees in the middle of the fairway. But be careful. That’s the near side of the river. Then there’s the river and more trees on the other side.
Forced carries—often combined with a blind or partially blind shot—add to the din.
Another beef I had with the course is the lack of options for the players. I enjoy courses that give players a variety of shot options. Too many holes at Inkster Valley were of the “fly it to the flag” design. That is, if you can actually see the green. The play at Inkster Valley is mostly fly it to where you think the green might be and hope that’s somewhere near the flag.
From the back tees, Inkster Valley stretches to 6,709 yards and plays to a 71.5/129. The middle tees are at 6,100 and a 68.7/122. I think that it plays much harder than that, thanks to repeated blind shots over tall marsh grasses and shrubs.
My recommendation: Find another place to play.