Teachers’ Comments: A premium course at a very reasonable price
I was prepared to dislike Northville Hills. For the most part, I don’t like housing development courses, as the proximity of homes to the fairways and greens makes me nervous. The homes also ruin the views and peace of the golf course setting.
Northville Hills was different, though. The houses were set back far enough, and the angles such that they really did not feel as much of an imposition as many other development courses. After a while, I pretty much forgot the houses were there. Kudos to the Arnold Palmer design team for this.
Northville Hills provides a variety of challenges. I counted three doglegs left and four right. There also were several holes that jogged left or right (and sometimes both) without actually rising to dogleg status. There were some fifty bunkers. Half a dozen of the holes required reasonable forced carries (mostly the par threes). A few holes had interrupted fairways; the tee shots were direct, but getting to the green required a lofted shot. Those aren’t my favorite kind of holes, as I prefer open fronts, but it did offer problems to solve.
An interesting feature of a good many of the bunkers at Northville Hills is that they were set into the sides of hills or mounds facing the tee box and fairways, rather than in recesses in the ground. It was a nice way to give definition to the course, and to keep the eyes on the fairways, instead of wandering to the homes on the sidelines.
My favorite hole at Northville Hills was the par 4 thirteenth (top of page). Measuring 415 yards, it’s a dogleg right with a split fairway on the other side of a large ravine. A carry of at least 180 is needed to get your ball to the upper tier for a reasonable chance at par. A lesser drive will likely leave a player on the lower fairway. From that position, there’s no direct line, so the play is to play a short iron up, then another short iron or a wedge in. You can still make par that way, but the approach will need to be close for a one-putt. The front of the green is open, though, so a pitch and run will work.
A great risk-reward hole is the par 4 ninth. It measures 418 yards, with a slight dogleg right. In front of the green is a 100 yard wide pond. Thus, an average tee shot of 220 leaves a 200 yard shot at the green — with the last 100 yards requiring carry. It can be done, but the consequences of a miss would be catastrophic. Even a 250 yard drive leaves a risky shot. Golfers have a decision to make there: lay up and then take a wedge into the long narrow green, or go r it and risk a Tin Cup. For my part, I laid up, missed the green long, chipped on and one-putted for bogey. But it still kept double or worse out of the equation.
Conditions on the day I played Northville Hills were simply outstanding. The fairways and greens were like well-cleaned carpets. Sand in the bunkers was debris free. Tee boxes were as well cared for as you could demand. Northville Hills is clearly a premium course.
But the greens fees are not premium. Peak prices at Northville Hills on weekends are $65 including cart. On Weekday afternoons, the price is as low as $42 and after 6, $30.
I was pleased that Northville Hills encourages walkers. Not as pleasing was no price break for not taking a cart. Walkers don’t consume cart resources, so they shouldn’t have to pay for them.
The combination of terrific conditions and relatively modest prices is what elevated Northville Hills to near top marks in my book.
The Northville Hills Golf Course Review was first published June 27, 2015.
More photos below