Lyon Oaks Golf Club
52251 Pontiac Trail
Wixom, MI 48393
Pontiac Trail off I-96 (via Wixom Road Exit)
in Lyon Township
Teachers’ Comments: The best muni you’ll ever play.
Lyon Oaks is an outstanding public golf course located in the southwestern corner of Oakland County, just off I-96. In design, conditioning, service and facilities, it is one of the best public courses I’ve played in a long time.
Given the level of the course, I find it amazing that Lyon Oaks is not just a public course—it’s a muni, owned by the Oakland County Parks system. I’m sure that I’ve never played a muni of this quality. It was listed by Golf Digest in its 2006/2007 best places to play list.
Lyon Oaks plays as a 72.7/137 at 6.837 yards from the tips, and 69.3/131 at 6133 from the whites. The course has five sets of tees.
The feel of Lyon Oaks is very much that of an “Up North” course, with each hole isolated from the rest and seemingly existing far from civilization (aside from a buzz from the highway, which you thankfully never see). It’s spread out over 230 acres of woodland, prairie, swamp and water with not a house in sight. That’s because it is smack dab in the middle of a county park.
Architect Arthur Hills has done a great job of creating a challenging, yet fair and fun layout. The hallmark of Lyon Oaks is the forced carry. Every tee shot requires a carry over marsh or prairie. That isn’t a problem, however, if you’re playing from the proper tees. The tee grounds are aligned and distanced to give everyone a chance to succeed—again assuming you’re playing from the proper tees. I’m not a long driver, but had no trouble at all from the white tees. Not a single one of my balls found trouble before the fairway.
Landing areas are wide and friendly. Twice, I sliced a ball out of sight around a corner into lost ball territory. I hit provisionals, but when I got to the corner, found my original ball resting in a fortuitously widened landing zone. I think that Hills knew slicers would send a ball in that direction and created a wider spot to catch them.
Another nice feature of Hills’ design is that all of the par 3s are respites. No heroic shots are required, although precision is a plus. The thirteenth is just 110 yards long from the whites—a pitching wedge or nine iron for most weekenders.
From the reaction I got in the clubhouse, I get the feeling that not many walk Lyon Oaks. That’s a shame. The course is relatively flat, and the great routing ensures that each tee box is not terribly far from the previous green. Walk it if at all possible. You’ll be rewarded.
Conditioning on the day I visited was superb. The greens were firm, fast and true. Fairways were fully grown in and well mown. It was all picture perfect.
If there’s a downside to Lyon Oaks, it is the price. At $50 a round—walking or riding—Lyon Oaks is more expensive than your typical muni (I pay a buck a hole at my regular track).
Still, I absolutely recommend that you play this course at least once this summer. I plan on returning as soon as possible.
This golf course review has been brought to you by Sweetwoods Park Golf Club in Kent.