Ann Arbor’s city golf courses have been the subject of much discussion over the past two years. With some questionable accounting measures, the city claims that they’ve been taking a loss and has been looking for ways to make them profitable. Leslie Park seems to be out of the woods, with a marked improvement in course conditions and the addition of an alcohol license. But the future of the lower end Huron Hills has been very much in doubt.
Huron Hills has been a unique course. The front seven, located on one side of Huron Parkway, is utterly boring, perfectly flat pasture golf. Holes 8 – 18, however, are more interesting, fixed on a ruggedly hilly stretch on the other side of the parkway. Until recent years, it’s been walking only. The appeal of the course has been mainly to juniors and beginners. You can see photos of the course here.
Worth noting about Huron Hills—it’s a Tom Bendelow design, and thus may be worth saving for its historic value.
The City apparently now has two proposals in hand for the course. One would turn course management over to a non-profit. The other would lease the facility to Miles of Golf, the local golf shop/driving range/learning center. Miles would close nine of the holes for a new store, driving range and learning facilities, and maintain the other nine as a course.
I’ve read both proposals and think there’s merit in both. I like the non profit because it would keep the entire course open. However, with the abundance of local courses, and the downward pressure on prices, I don’t see how it can stay in the black. The team proposing the financial restructuring is strong, though, and they might be able to make it work.
The Miles of Golf proposal is more interesting. It keeps the better part of the course open, while adding a range, shop and learning center that would be able to subsidize the remaining nine holes. And, as there are eleven holes on that side of Huron Parkway, I wonder if there isn’t a way to reroute the course to turn one of the existing holes into a par 5. The back currently runs 4, 3, 4, 4, 3, 4, 3, 3, 4.
My suspicion is that if the city accepts either proposal, it’ll be the non profit one. It promises immediate savings and keeps the course as-is. Ann Arborites generally seem to fear any sort of development within the city, especially on areas that currently are greenspace. Heck, they like greenspace so much that they are buying up land around the city.