Warren Valley Golf Course
Dearborn Heights, Michigan
Teacher’s Comments: This gets points for being a Donald Ross design, but the course has seen better days.
Warren Valley is billed as a Donald Ross course and as such deserves some attention. Donald Ross courses that you can walk on and play are unusual and an opportunity not to be missed. You also never know how long they will be around: witness the scheduled conversion of Detroit’s Rogell course to a cemetery, and the sale of several holes of the St. Clair River GC to developers.
As it stands, however, Warren Valley is but a shadow of its former self. Conditions on the several times I visited Warren Valley were just plain bad. There were large dead spots in the fairway and the entire course had a sort of shabby vibe. The greens were in decent good shape, though.
Beneath the dilapidated exterior, however, is an interesting course. As with the Western Golf and Country Club and Rouge Park, Warren Valley is built along the heights and plain that follow the Rouge River. This allowed Ross to create a course with a surprising number of elevation changes and hole shapes that follow the river.
Neither of the two courses—East and West—are terribly difficult. The East stretches to 6,189 from the tips and plays to a 69.9/122. The middle tees measure 5,320 and are rated at 68/2/117. The West course back tees are at 6,106 and a 68.9/125, while the middle tees are at 5,792 and a 67.6/120.
Greens at Warren Valley are moderately sized and generally open on the front. A good strategy here is to bounce shots up onto the green—much as I imagine Ross intended.
I am curious, though, as to how much of the original routing remains. The original 18 holes was expanded to 36 over the years. I also suspect that there was some reworking along Beech Daley Road and Hines Drive just as Rackham suffered when 696 was built.
What I would really like to hear is that the conditions at Warren Valley have been improved since my last visit. If that’s the case, then this is a course worth visiting.