Stonebridge Golf Course
Overall Grade: B-
Teacher’s Comments: A nice course in a less than stellar setting.
I’ve been struggling with writing this review for some time now because I’m really undecided about the course. From tee to green, Stonebridge is a fine track, with plenty to offer every skill level. At the same time, I absolutely hate that this fine course winds through a community of McMansions of the nouveau riche.
Designed by Arthur Hills, Stonebridge has made a number of Detroit area Top Ten lists and the design certainly warrants it. Largely open, the challenge comes from strategically located bunkers, marshlands, ponds and swales. It’s a course that would be right at home on a coastal plain.
Stonebridge measures 6481 and plays to a 71.5 from the whites, and plays 6932 to a 73.6 from the blues. I played the whites to a good score, but thought that the blues would not be that much more difficult.
One of the nice things about the layout is that it offers a good mix of risk and reward. There are quite a few holes that will tempt players to “go for it” at the risk of an inflated score.
The par five seventeenth is just such a hole—and is probably my favorite on the course. From the blue and white tees, the first impression is that the hole demands a tee shot of some 270 yards to carry a large pond and a series of depressions next to the fairway. However, a second look reveals a bit of fairway to the right of the pond that asks for only two hundred or so yards of carry. And an inspection of the hole’s map shows that the landing zone there actually is quite wide. The hole will play a lot longer if you head right, but you won’t run the risk of getting wet.
My playing partner—a three handicapper—went for risky shot and made it easily, leaving himself a chance at getting to the green in two. I bailed out right, narrowly missing a group of fairway bunkers on the far side of the landing zone. I was on in three; he was on in two. Both of us were pleased with our play.
Demand for distance and accuracy is nicely balanced. Precision is called for on all of the par threes, and on the approach shots on most of the other holes. There is a great deal of bunkering and mounding around the greens; a couple are guarded by water.
If you’re a big hitter, though, you’ll also enjoy the course. There are plenty of opportunities to just flail away with a driver, or take a good swing with a three wood from the fairway.
That comes with a caveat, however. On this course—as with any in a residential neighborhood—you always need to be cognizant of hitting a house or landing in someone’s yard.
I frankly hate that. I don’t worry about hitting a ball into the woods or high rough, but playing amongst houses makes me nervous.
And, I find that residential golf courses ruin the experience for me. Much of what I enjoy about golf is being away from it all. Even on my home course, which is surrounded by neighborhoods, the interior holes are lined only by other fairways and trees.
Conditions at Stonebridge on the two days I played were mixed. The tee boxes, fairways and greens were in wonderful condition. Sand in the traps was top notch. And there was an abundance of nice flower plantings. But once your ball rolled off the fairway and the first cut of rough, it was all dusty scrub.
I know that watering the rough and the area between holes is an expensive proposition, but on a “upscale” course, its something I expect. Alternatively, the course could just let those areas grow tall wild grasses, giving some nice texture.
As an upscale course, though, there are a lot of amenities. There’s a grass driving range, a short game area, a large putting green (shared with the 18th green) and a nice clubhouse. The mens room has lockers and a shower.
Stonebridge charges $50 weekdays with a cart, or $36 walking (kudos for allowing walking). I don’t consider that a particularly good deal, but there are frequently coupons available in the papers and on their site that greatly improve that rate. There also are price breaks for twilight and at other times. If you’re flexible, you can get a good rate.
If you don’t mind residential golf courses, then I think you’ll find Stonebridge fun to play. And in that case, I recommend it. It is not, however, going to make it on my rotation of courses to play. I just can’t get over my fear of landing on people’s property.
The Stonebridge Golf Course Review was first published on GolfBlogger.Com on July 19, 2010.
More photos of Stonebridge Golf Course follow: