Plum Hollow Golf Course Review
Plum Hollow Country Club
Teachers’ Comments: Classic design, but significant parts were under construction on my play. I have a feeling I didn’t play it at its best.
Plum Hollow is a 1921Colt and Alison design that is routed along, across, down and up ravines cut by and feeding into the Rouge Rive (is that enough prepositions for you?). Age aside, Plum Hollow is an historic course, having hosted the 1943 Ryder Cup, 1947 PGA, and 1957 Western Open.
The course’s claimed provenance is under some question, however. In some versions, Alison is thought to have done the work, without input from Colt. Colt reportedly did not visit the United States after World War I. Plum Hollow, however, claims that it is a “Colt and Alison” design. The pair did apparently have an office in Detroit beginning in 1920, so it is possible that both had a hand in some fashion. As is typical with many courses of that age, Plum Hollow’s original design has been modified by various projects over the years.
In any case, from an association that was responsible for more than 300 courses worldwide, Plum Hollow is one of just thirty Colt and Alison courses in North America. Four of those are in Metro Detroit: Orchard Lake CC, Bloomfield Hills, Country Club of Detroit and Plum Hollow.
The distinctive feature of Plum Hollow is a routing that takes full advantage of the presence of the Rouge River. By my count, sixteen of the eighteen holes incorporate either the Rouge basin itself or the ravines that feed runoff to that river.
At the same time, however, there aren’t a lot of vertical elevation changes along the fairways. For the most part, players don’t find themselves at the bottom or top of a steep hill wondering how many extra or fewer clubs they’ll need to take. Instead, in most instances, the chasms and gullies are employed as obstacles that require a carry.
The par three fifth and the par five sixth are a nicely paired example. The fifth asks players to begin on one bank of the river basin, taking aim at a green perched on the opposite side.
The sixth, which begins on the same bank as the fifth green, crosses back over the Rouge, with a challenging carry.
Failure to carry the chasm in either direction won’t automatically result in a lost ball. Said failure will, however, make it very difficult to recover for par — or even bogey.
Aside from the irregular terrain, challenge and interest are provided by tree-lined fairways and a dozen fairway bunkers.
My favorite hole was the snakelike par four eleventh.
The eleventh is a curvy dogleg right that plays slightly downhill. There’s a bunker at the inside of the bend, and trees tightly lining the boundaries. A big hitter could be tempted to try to fly the bunker, but mortals will need to hug the left side.
The green complex has a large bunker on the left side. After a decent drive on the left hand side, I ended up in that bunker with my second shot. Fortunately, I was able to get out in one shot and manage a long (undeserved) putt for par.
From the tips, Plum Hollow stretches to 6, 760 yards, where it plays to a 73/133. The middle tees are at 6, 453 and play to a 71.6/128. More forward tees are at 5, 714 (68.2/124) and 5, 317 (70.7/127)
Conditions on the day I played were good, but for a couple of holes that were under major reconstruction. Plum Hollow is in general a very pretty course with its stretch of the Rouge River, trees and natural areas. In a section of Southfield that is largely concrete and decrepit commercial strips it is an urban oasis.
I played Plum Hollow as a part of the Golf Association of Michigan’s “Golf Days,” an opportunity for average golfers to play above-average courses. I finished middle-of-the-pack in the senior division of the competition. but for a couple of wasted shots here and there and I might have done very well. Certainly on a second playing, I would make some better decisions.
If you get a chance to play Plum Hollow, I recommend you take advantage. It is an historic course, but more importantly, it is fun.
The Plum Hollow golf course review was first published February 23, 2021 from notes and photos taken on a round played in June 2020. For all of GolfBlogger’s Michigan Golf Course Reviews, follow the link.
A course tour of Plum Hollow follows.