Playing A Classic Alister MacKenzie Design

Playing A Classic Alister MacKenzie Design
A view from behind the tenth green at the Alister MacKenzie designed University of Michigan golf course.

Even the most casual golf fan may recognize the name Alister MacKenzie. Along with Bobby Jones, MacKenzie designed Augusta National, host of The Masters. Only slightly lesser known is his work at Cypress Point on the Monterey Peninsula, which has three drop-dead spectacular holes coastal holes and Crystal Downs, the Augusta of the North. In all, MacKenzie designed more than 60 courses around the world, including in such exotic locales as Uruguay and Argentina.

In Ann Arbor, we are fortunate to have one of MacKenzie’s designs in the University of Michigan Golf Course. “The Blue,” as many call it locally, is a  1931 design that is located across the street from “The Big House,” the 110,000 seat University of Michigan stadium. I got out to play the course yesterday on a glorious summer morning.

The third at the University of Michigan golf course is a dogleg par five that plays uphill, down and then back up again.

The university course is much hillier than you might expect for southeastern Michigan and occupies some of the highest ground in Ann Arbor. Every hole is worth playing and the course is kept in terrific shape by the University. The best part is that — for alumni like myself — a weekday round is just $43. That’s an absolute steal for a course this good.

The thirteenth just might be my favorite hole on the course. It’s a shortish par four with looming bunkers and a savage green.

In the last year, the University has also upgraded the clubhouse (seen on the right in the photo below, just beyond the pond). The 18th green is also noticeably different than before.

A view of the eighteenth hole and the Ann Arbor skyline.

Every time I play the University of Michigan golf course, I ask myself — since I live just ten minutes away — why I don’t play it more often. Part of the answer is that it is busy, and at my home course — a muni in nearby Ypsilanti — I can usually just walk on at the spur of the moment. The other answer is that it is a really tough walk. I will usually venture there in cooler weather.

Now if I can just figure out a way to get a round on Michigan’s other Alister MacKenzie course: Crystal Downs.

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