Plymouth, MI’s Hilltop Course Faces Redesign
After several years of financial struggles, Plymouth, Michigan’s Hilltop Golf Course faces redesign. A report in Hometown Life says that Plymouth Township, owner of the muni, wants to reduce the course from 18 to nine holes while adding other amenities, such as athletic fields, a “sculpture trail” and a dog park.
Local golf course architect Paul Albanese (best known, perhaps for Sweetgrass) has offered a routing that would use much of the existing course. A bonus: Albanese says that the nine holes could be designed to offer a different layout on alternating days.
Rumors of Hilltop’s eminent demise have been circulating for years. The township reports that it lost some $150,000 on the course in 2017.
My informal teachers’ golf league has played there on Friday afternoons for many years.
I am glad that the township is considering preserving the green space, rather than selling it to developers. Once sold, such public spaces can never be reclaimed. No municipal government has the money or the will to remove neighborhoods or businesses for open space. What was relatively cheap fifty years ago would bankrupt a local government in this age. And yet, greenbelts are needed in an age of urban sprawl. Think, for a moment of New York City without Central Park. If they had sold it to developers decades ago, there is no amount of money that could reclaim it.
Albanese says that the new multi-use park plan would be unique, and in the spirit of the Scottish courses that are integrated into the community. From the Hometown Life story:
“The golf landscape in Scotland is one that the entire community can embrace, not just golfers. Take St. Andrews. It’s a British Open course, but if you visit there just about any time of the year, you’ll see community members walking their dogs around course, not far from the revered greens and bunkers. It’s an amazing sight to see.”
“I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of integrating art within a golf course. Lo and behold, a neighbor of mine, Lisa Howard, who is part of the Plymouth Arts Council, approached me and said she was interested in helping integrate some form of art in this project.”
Finally, Albanese said that it is likely they could keep the course open while at the same time renovating and re-routing it.
That should be something to see.