Thorne Hills Golf Course Review

Thorne Hills' first is a 480 yard par 5.
Thorne Hills’ first is a 480 yard par 5.



Thorne Hills Golf Course
Carleton, Michigan
Grade: D+
Teacher’s Comments: Short. Tight. Cheap.

Thorne Hills is a testament to the old saying that “you get what you pay for.” It is short, tight, weedy and quirky. It is also very cheap.

From the tips, Thorne Hills stretches to 5, 827, and that figure is somewhat inflated by the absurdly long 628 yard par 5 tenth (It’s 518 from the FORWARD tees). But, during during the week, eighteen holes walking is just $15. Riding is $23. That “soars” to $17/$25 on the weekend.

When I mentioned Thorne Hills to some golfing partners, they all remarked on how the first tee was just three steps from the clubhouse and played past the cart barn. The photo at top does not even begin to show how claustrophobic it is. Several other holes have nets separating tee boxes from greens, fairways, and even other tee boxes. It is as tight a course as I have ever played.

But did I mention that I played for $15?

The seventh at Thorne Hills is a 266 yard par 4.
The seventh at Thorne Hills is a 266 yard par 4. Note the protective net on the right.

The story I was told by the regular I played with is that Thorne Hills was designed and built by an ex-Ford engineer as a retirement project. If the legend is true, no actual golf architect had a hand in the layout.

Thorne Hills Course Map
Thorne Hills Course Map

As you can see, the routing is a bit of a crazy quilt, with holes passing by each other and not particularly following a logical progression. You also get a sens of just how tight these holes are. When the map shoes a line of trees separating fairways, that’s exactly what it is: a line of trees separating fairways.

And yet, it was fun. Perhaps the most golf fun you can have for $15.

The greens were generally in good shape. The fairways were a mixed bag. Most parts were well covered and weedy. I don’t mind weeds as long as they are mowed and cover the dirt with a reasonable cushion. My favorite local muni has plenty of weeds. Unfortunately, other parts were not so well covered.

The eighth at Thorne Hills is a 433 yard par 4.
The eighth at Thorne Hills is a 433 yard par 4.

I have no idea where the “Hills” in Thorne Hills comes into play. The course is as flat as a pool table.

The best hole on the course is the par four eighth, which wraps around a pond. A good tee shot swings wide enough to give a shot at the green, while avoiding a tree that’s positioned at the inside edge along the pond. The green is a bit elevated and somewhat like like a ski slope, sweeping down from back to front.

All amusement aside, Thorne Hills offers playable greens and serviceable fairways at a price that is as low as you can get.

The Thorne Hills Golf Course Review was first published July 20, 2016.

More photos of Thorne Hills Golf course follow:


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