The Legacy Golf Course Review
The Legacy By Arthur Hills
Ottawa Lake, Michigan
Teacher’s Comments: There are some really neat holes here
The Legacy by Arthur Hills is a “links inspired” course routed across flat farmland in the southeast corner of Michigan. And while it certainly has that open links style, I’ll tag it with a term I coined in a previous post: it’s a farmlands course (as opposed to linksland, parksland, etc.). That’s not a pejorative, just a description of the land.
Arthur Hills — whose name adorns the club — is a legend of Michigan golf architecture. Beginning in 1967, Hills has designed more than 200 courses worldwide, including 49 projects in Michigan. His mitten state portfolio includes such Michigan stalwarts as Bay Harbor, The Arthur Hills Course at Boyne Highlands, Shepherd’s Hollow , Leslie Park and Lyon Oaks.
In these, Hills shows an ability to get the most out of Michigan’s varied land forms. The Legacy is another good example of that talent.
Working with 207 acres of largely nondescript flat, treeless farmland, Hills created a layout with an array of interesting holes.
Some of the holes — such as the first, third and fourteenth, encourage a bombs away approach off the tee. These are still Arthur Hills holes, though, so even as they start out inviting, they become more treacherous as they approach the green.
As an aside, that’s a thing I’ve noticed about the Arthur Hills courses I’ve played. I start on the tee saying “I can do this.” But by the time I finish, I feel beat up. Then I get to the next tee, and look out at the hole in front of me and say “I can do this.” And on and on and on.
The grip-it-and-rip-it holes are fun, but the meat of The Legacy by Arthur Hills is in the holes that offer a stark choice: easier tee shots with more difficult approaches, or tough tee shots with easier approaches.
Ten is a good example of this. It’s a 300 yard par four wrapped around a pond (that also serves as a challenge on 18). The more you bite off, the easier the second shot becomes.
Sometimes the challenge is dramatic, such as the pond on ten and eighteen. On other holes, the threat is a fairway bunker, a bend, a berm, or a narrowed fairway. I really enjoyed making these choices.
To make these choices really meaningful, though, The Legacy needs more penal rough. The brilliance of some of the holes is lost when missing the generous fairways is only slightly worse than finding one.
I also think they missed an opportunity to make the course run hard and fast with fescue, rather than bentgrass fairways. That would have truly made it a unique offering in southeast Michgian.
My favorite hole at Arthur Hills’ Legacy was the par 4 fifth.
This short par 4 offers two distinct strategies. The easiest shot off the tee is straight ahead, where even a short shot will find the fairway. The second shot on this line of attack, however, involves a lob over a large trap that splits the fairway.
The other strategy on the par 4 fifth at The Legacy by Arthur Hills asks for a longer carry to the left, but rewards it with a straight approach to the green through an open front.
For my part, I hit a straight shot off the tee, then managed to eke out a pitching wedge just over the bunker onto the green.
My playing partner — a longer hitter — played left and found the green, but then left his approach short and left into the bunkers. He didn’t make his up-and-down.
Another fine hole was the par four eighteenth (photo at the top of the page; satellite image at left). This 359 yard par four again offers two routes.
The easier one off the tee is to the right of the pond, where there is plenty of fairway, This, however, brings a pond into play on the second shot.
The more difficult tee shot thus becomes the easier approach. A carry over the pond to the left side of the fairway is more difficult, but offers a cleaner shot into the green.
The island green par three eighth is terrifying from a golf point of view. It’s like Sawgrass 17, but shorter, so players have a decent chance of finding the green. I managed to drop a shot right in the middle.
From the back tees, The Legacy stretches to 6, 840 yards and plays to a 72.7/134. The “white” tees, which I played, are at 6, 018 and play to a 69/126.
Conditions on the day I played were good. The greens were in fine shape, and the fairways were healthy and green. It was as good as any public course I played in the summer of 2000. It was better than one of the private country clubs I played.
Other than the lack of thick fescue, my other complaint is that pace of play was slow — especially for a Monday. Five and a half hours during the week does not bode well for the weekend. They need rangers.
In addition to the golf, The Legacy has a lot going on. There’s a very large clubhouse and restaurant (curtailed, of course in the Covid year), a full driving range and — just outside the gates — a store called Components Plus, which sells shafts, heads, grips and other golf components for the do-it-yourselfer.
In all, The Legacy By Arthur Hills is a course to which I would like to return to play. It’s got some really interesting holes that deserve further exploration.
The Legacy Golf Course Review was first published on GolfBlogger.Com on November 24, 2020 from notes and photos taken on a round played July 13, 2020. For all of GolfBlogger’s Michigan Golf Course Reviews follow the link.
A photo gallery of the Arthur HIlls’ Legacy Golf Course follows