Leslie Park Golf Course Review

The sixteenth at Leslie Park is a 495 yard par five
The sixteenth at Leslie Park is a 495 yard par five

Leslie Park Golf Course Review

Leslie Park Golf Course
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Grade: B-
Teacher’s Comments: A good course.

2007 Update: I’ve been told by several people that course conditions at Leslie Park are now very bad. One said that he won’t go back. A result of budget cutbacks in Ann Arbor?

2013 Update: The latest news is that conditions have markedly improved. I’ll have to visit soon to confirm

2017 Update: The city of Ann Arbor apparently has invested significant funds in the course. Word on the street is that it is now a premier golf experience.

2022 Update: I finally returned to Leslie Park and found that — as rumored — it is now a top rate course in every sense.

Leslie Park is one of two municipal courses in Ann Arbor—and it is by far the better of the two (although the other, Huron Hills, has its charms).

Playing at 6591 yards from the back tees, and with a rating/slope of 71.9/127, Leslie Park has the firepower to challenge better golfers. And yet, bogey golfers need not fear: the course plays nearly 800 yards shorter from the whites.

Like many of the courses in Michigan, the two nines have distinctly different characters. Most of the holes on the front nine are hilly, with either elevated tees or greens, or both.

The fifth at Leslie Park is a 406 yard par 4.
The fifth at Leslie Park is a 406 yard par 4.

One particularly memorable hole there is the par 4 fifth. This 407 yarder plays like a roller coaster ride. From the tee, the fairway slopes slightly down and then back up to a crest about 200 yards out. At that point, it takes a steep dive down into a ravine and then back up again to the green. From the ravine bottom, it’s about 120 to the green.

I like the choice the hole offers you: lay up to the first crest, or drive it down the hill and hope to get a flat lie.

The back nine, on the other hand, is relatively flat. Elevation changes come into play on just three holes—and those are not significant.

The seventeenth at Leslie Park is a 132 yard par 3
The seventeenth at Leslie Park is a 132 yard par 3

On the back side, my favorite hole is the par 3 seventeenth. It’s a 150 yard shot across a pond to a green nestled against a hillside. The tee box is right next to a barn, which adds some charm to the whole scene.

A word about the walkabilty of this course is in order. Holes 1-3 are very easy to navigate. The remainder of the holes on the front nine are hilly—and the slopes sometimes are very steep. The back nine is all very walkable … with one exception. The walk between the thirteenth and fourteenth is absolutely brutal. It’s short—perhaps only a hundred yards or so—but it’s got to be an eighty degree slope. I am surprised that they don’t have a defibulator machine standing by at mid slope.

Course conditions on the day I visited were just ok. The fairways were filled in but somewhat dry and weedy. There were occasional brown spots on the greens, and the tee boxes needed some work. None of this, however affected my play.

A big plus was the sand in the traps (I spent way too much time there). It was white and fluffy—the kind of sand that you find at resort courses, not a municipal.

A downside: there are no practice facilities here. So make sure you’re warmed up before you arrive. The pro shop is also quite sparse, so make sure you are well stocked.

The staff at Leslie Park is quite friendly. I arrived as a single, and the lady at the counter went to some lengths to get me hooked up with a guy whom she knew was friendly and willing to play with strangers. When I lost a ball, the guy mowing the fairway stopped and helped me look. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the ball. Later, we crossed paths again, and he tossed me a ball. He had found it and saved it for me.

The Leslie Park Golf Course Review was first published August 31, 2006.

More photos of Leslie Park follow:

5 thoughts on “Leslie Park Golf Course Review”

  1. Perhaps the Golf Blogger was having a tough day when he wrote the review of Leslie Park.  I have read some of the other reviews and an overall “C+” seems rather harsh.

    Personally, I find Leslie’s course conditions to be generally good (B).  Not great (A) but certainly not fair (C) or poor. Unless one is playing a premium public course or a private one, the expectation should not be that all dandelions and crab grass have been banished.  I tend to look at bunkers and greens, both of which earn A’s or B’s from me at Leslie.  As long as the fairways are closely mown and the rough not completely dominated by weeds, that is all I need.

    As far as walkability, the fact that Leslie allows walking at all times is a big plus.  Many public courses still cling to mandatory carts all or part of the time.  Is the hill between 13 and 14 steep?  Yes.  However, hilly courses offer more variety.  It is hard to have downhill or uphill shots without hills.  I find most flat courses exceedingly mundane.  Which leads to my last point, design.

    A decent design has a variety of holes.  A few uphill, a few downhill, some doglegs right and some left, a couple straight holes, etc… Leslie Park was blessed with some interesting terrain.  No two holes are copies of each other.  Is this course equal to U of M?  No.  But it is certainly equal to or better than most of its peer group.

    Leslie is a good solid B+ or A- in my book.

  2. This is an extremely outdated review. Since August of 2006 the City of Ann Arbor has put a great deal of money into Leslie Park and it has just recently received the award of BEST MUNICIPAL COURSE IN MICHIGAN (2009).  The course is in great shape and is one of the best courses to walk or ride in the state.


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