Shepherd’s Hollow Golf Course Review
Teacher’s Comments: True “Up North” golf in Southeastern Michigan.
Shepherd’s Hollow is on the short list of Southeastern Michigan courses that can legitimately claim to have the fabled “Up North” feel (Moose Ridge is another). With 27 holes carved through 400 acres of hilly forest, the course offers a temporary retreat from the industrious world.
And a retreat is exactly what Shepherd’s Hollow is. The property on which the course sits is leased from Colombiere Center, which serves as a retreat for the Detroit Province of the Jesuits.
Shepherd’s Hollow is a long, difficult course. From the back (black) tees, it stretches to 7,236 and plays to a 76/137. The middle (blue) tees measure 6,518 and play to a 72/137. The more reasonable tees for the bogey golfer are the whites at 6,068, playing at 70.1/131.
Tee it forward at Shepherd’s Hollow.
On my trip to Shepherd’s Hollow, I played holes 1 – 18, but did not get a chance to play the remaining nine.
Most of the holes at Shepherd’s Hollow are lined by trees, creating one isolated island of fairway and green after another. The fairways are rolling and elevation changes frequent. The course offers 160 feet in elevation changes and contains one of the highest points in Oakland County. Fairway and greenside bunkers spread liberally about the course offer additional challenges.
I would not, however, consider Shepherd’s Hollow particularly “tight.” There is plenty of room on the holes, so long as you are not a wild sprayer of tee shots. The real test is often in how well you hit your second shots off an uneven lie, or in how well you judge club changes on elevation changes.
Water comes into play on just a couple of holes, but spectacularly so on the finishing 18th (above).
The Arthur Hills design, which opened in 2000, apparently was executed without moving a lot of dirt. That’s a luxury architects have when there is a lot of land available. Instead of building holes, they can “find” them.
Shepherd’s Hollow has drawn a lot of raves since it opened. Golf Digest ranks it as the 42nd best public course in the nation. In 2002, Crane’s Detroit Business ranked it as the best in the five county Metro Detroit area.
Conditions on the day I played were very good, but that was in mid October, when the air was cool and the course was not getting much play. I have heard reports that it can get a bit beat up in the summer. On the other hand, a friend who plays this on a regular basis has nothing but good things to say about how well the course is maintained.
Shepherd’s Hollow is on the expensive side for the area, with greens fees at $68 during prime week hours and $80 for prime weekend hours and holidays.
I very much enjoyed my round at Shepherd’s Hollow. It’s not a place I could afford to play on a regular basis, but it is on my short list of places to go back to.
The Shepherd’s Hollow Golf Course Review was first published May 21, 2013.
More photos below: