Timber Ridge Golf Course
Teacher’s Comments: A nice course, inconsiderate management spoiled the day.
Timber Ridge in East Lansing is an enjoyable woodlands style course that takes full advantage of the region’s varied terrain. Architect Jerry Matthews lived up to his Matthews Natural Course Design billing, as the holes meander up and down hillsides, past marsh and through pine and hardwood. It is one of those courses where I get the feeling that holes were “found” rather than “made.” The entire course has a very natural feel to it.
From the back tees, Timber Ridge measures 6,620 yards and plays to a 73/144. The white tees are in at 6,010 and play 70.1/135. The white tees are plenty challenging, especially on a first time through the course.
Matthew’s design at Timber Ridge is noteworthy. Most of the holes were challenging without being taxing. No heroic carries or shots were required from the white tees (nor from the blue). That’s nice, because it lets golfers play within themselves.
It is also a very pretty course. The fairways are lined with trees, and only a few houses intrude on the sense of isolation. Timber Ridge’s many elevation changes offer nice views.
My favorite hole was the 395 yard (from the blues) par 4 first. From an elevated tee, the hole sweeps down, bends left a little and then turns back uphill to the green, which is about two thirds the height of the tee. It is just a straight two-shot hole, with none of the strategic decisions that I enjoy so much. It is, however, visually very attractive, and a good way to start a day.
A better strategic hole at Timber Ridge is the par 4 twelfth. This 300 yarder has a dogleg left. At the out end of the bend is an embankment that slopes back to the fairway. The entire length is lined with trees. The hole is short enough that it qualifies as a true risk-reward even for higher handicappers. A good drive could put you within a wedge of the green. A bad drive will have you teeing up again, hitting three. Further, the open front of the green offers another decision: pitch or lob.
On this hole, I hit a beautiful tee shot to 80 yards, then pitched up to the green. I had the wrong club, however, and the ball rolled off the back and up a slight slope. Luck was with me, though, for I chipped a seven iron into the hole for a par.
Conditions were excellent on the day I visited. The nicely sized greens are smooth and even. Fairways were kept clear of autumn leaves. A few of the lower lying areas of the course were, however, a bit damp. In the rainy season, I should think they would be quite swampy.
In season, weekday rates are $50 and $57 on the weekends. That’s a bit overpriced for a non-resort course in Michigan. But it is in line with another high end course just minutes away, Hawk Hollow.
My one beef with the course was with the management. On the day I played, I was sent out behind a very slow golf league —a fact I did not discover until the third hole. That turned the rest of the day into a nightmarishly slow slog. At one point, I looped back and played three holes over (there was no one behind me). Still, I ran into the back of the league two holes later. I stopped and ate lunch at the turn, having a drink and a nice chicken wrap. After sitting a while, I headed back out. And ran into the group four holes later.
These were the kind of golfers who plumb bobbed their sixth putts. I would wait to tee off until they had cleared the green ahead, and then finish the hole only to find that they were still getting off the next tee.
If management was more on top of things, they would have either: a) warned me so that I could make a choice to play elsewhere or b) sent me out on the other nine, which would have put me ahead of the league, with the opportunity to loop back afterwards. There was just no excuse for gleefully taking my money, knowing that I was being condemned to the golfer’s death of a thousand cuts.
My other gripe is that walkers pay the same price as cart riders.There’s no excuse for that either.
More photos below: