Lakes of Taylor
Teachers’ Comments: A fine muni.
Designed by Arthur Hills, The Lakes of Taylor is an upscale muni. It’s quite long, and if length makes a place a “Championship Course,” then Lakes of Taylor lives up to its self-billing. From the back tees, the course stretches to 7,028 and plays to a 74/136. The middle tees, where mortal golfers should play come in at 70.7/122 and 6,386 yards. Even from these tees, this is a long course.
I really liked the Arthur Hills’ design for The Lakes of Taylor. Much of it is open and treeless, lending comparisons to links courses. It isn’t, of course, because there are no seaside (or Great Lakes-side) winds, and it is far from flat. I like to think of these courses as “prairie courses,” for they reflect the glacier-carved, grassy, windy landscapes of the American heartland. The course also features plenty of light woodland, water and marsh — which again are features you see all across Michigan.
(For what it’s worth, Arthur Hills is the architect of another terrific “muni,” Lyon Oaks, in Wixom. On the other hand, I’m not a fan of “The Legacy by Arthur Hills” in Ottawa Lake)
About half the holes on the course play through what can only be described as “stadium style” mounds — that is, the fairways are bounded by hummocks and hills. If a championship were to be held here, spectators would be afforded great views of the action. On the open holes, the hills offer a visual aid, helping to define the contours of the fairways.
The other half of The Lakes of Taylor’s holes are lined by woods on one side or the other … or both. The woods are not close to the fairways, and it would take a poor teeshot indeed to loose a ball in the trees (As I nearly did on the eighth hole. Fortunately my partner found it and I punched out).
While there are no serious doglegs at the Lakes of Taylor, six of the holes bend to the right at one point or another. Two turn left. Still, all the bogey golfer really needs to do is to aim properly and try to hit it straight. The fairways are generous and the angles gentle, so even an offline shot still has a chance at bogey at least.
Water or marsh come into play on ten of the holes. I counted some thirty sand traps.
My biggest challenge at the Lakes of Taylor was the distance. On a good many par fours, I was faced with the unenviable choice of trying a long shot at a green — which were often elevated or bound by bunkers — or laying up and trying to stick a wedge close. The par four fourteenth is a good example of this. At 414 yards from the white, my tees shot of 230 still left me with 184 yards around a lake to an angled green tucked into a horseshoe shaped knoll. There’s a lot that can go wrong on a longer shot like that, so I decided to lay up short of the hole and pitch up to the green.
My favorite hole was the par five eighteenth. From the tips, it’s a 510 yard affair; it plays 494 from the middle. A marsh/lake runs along the right side for three hundred fifty yards; at that point, another pond appears on the left. The tee shot needs to stay left, carrying 177 yards of rough and a sliver of pond. Big hitters (not me) need to be careful, though: A tee shot of 250 or so will find you in a bunker left. The second shot should be a mid-iron to the right side of the fairway. Big hitters will perhaps be tempted to go for the green in two, but it projects sufficiently into the pond on the left to make that a hazardous proposition. The green itself has a hill on the back and right, and slopes downward toward the water.
Perhaps the reason I liked this one is that I managed one of my few pars there that day.
The green itself is framed nicely by the pond and the absolutely gorgeous clubhouse/banquet facility.
Another hole I liked — for its originality — was the par three eleventh. The hole actually has two greens, creating very different angles. On the day I visited, the flag was to the right. Two greens — as opposed to one large one — offers a different sort of strategy.
I could go on, because there were so many good holes. I thought just two really pedestrian: the par four fifteenth and sixteenth. Given the way they are situated, and the routing, I think Arthur Hills was just out of options for those.
Conditions on the day I played were good, but not great. The Lakes of Taylor is a serious cut above my home track, but also quite short of the area’s “premium” courses. The mowers left debris that sometimes got in the way, and it was not all grass in the fairways. Both of those are things I ignore at my local buck-a-hole course, but should be addressed a a course with loftier ambitions. The also was a weird thing going on with the tee boxes: on most of them, the teeing ground markers were barely two club lengths apart. That doesn’t leave a lot of room. I confess to adding another club length to a good many of them.
In terms of price and value, The Lakes of Taylor is positioned somewhere between a bargain muni and an upscale public access course. For non-residents, the Lakes of Taylor is priced at $45 riding, and $33 walking on weekdays. On the weekend, that rises to $39 and $52. If you’re a Taylor resident, however, it’s a better deal: $40 riding during the week, and $45 on the weekend.
The bottom line for me, however, is that I would readily play the Lakes of Taylor again. I found it to be a fun and challenging course.
More photos follow.
The Lake of Taylor Golf Course Review was first published June 30, 2015.