Washtenaw Golf Club Review
Washtenaw Golf Club
Teacher’s Comments: Deliciously old school. Terrific conditioning.
Dating to 1899, Washtenaw Golf Club is likely the third oldest club in Michigan. As such, it is deliciously old school. Parallel fairways are lined by mature trees. Routing takes full advantage of natural land forms on surprisingly hilly terrain. Small, raised greens offer a variety of shot options with open fronts.
Legend has it that Donald Ross visited the course in its early years and said “When God created this beautiful rolling land he must have intended it for a golf course.”
In my mind, Washtenaw is in the conversation for a top twenty spot among public clubs in Michigan.
Washtenaw Golf Club has gone through some changes in recent years. Long an independent private club, Washtenaw was sold in 2009 to the private Polo Fields golf club. Washtenaw operated as Polo Fields – Washtenaw, from 2009 to 2018. In 2018, Polo Fields owner Stanley Berger sold Polo Fields, but retained control of Washtenaw. The club then opened to public play. In 2020, Berger sold Washtenaw to a group headed by Michigan Golf Hall of Famer Dave Kendall.
In spite of many community beliefs to the contrary, Washtenaw Golf Club is now entirely a public-access club. I suppose that it will be hard for Washtenaw to shake a 100 year reputation as a private club.
I was a member at Washtenaw for a short period of time in the early 2000s, but dropped my membership when I decided to dedicate myself to playing as many different courses as possible. It did not make economic sense to have a membership at a club while constantly playing elsewhere.
From the tips, Washtenaw stretches to 6, 564 yards, where it plays to a 72.3/137. The White tees are at 6, 205, playing to a 70.7/134. The more forward Gold tees measure 5, 661 and play at 68.4/124.
One thought I’ve long had about Washtenaw is that another set of tees is needed between the Whites and Golds. There is around 300 yards difference stepping down from Blue to White, but from White to Gold, the yardage drops off precipitously: 544 yards. New tee boxes are likely not in the offing, so hybrid tees would be the solution: create a combination of the White and Gold tees that clock in at around 6,000 yards.
Because of the relatively short spaces between tees and greens, Washtenaw is a fine course for walking. In countless rounds, I actually have never ridden a cart there. It’s hilly in spots, but that’ll just keep you fit.
My favorite hole at Washtenaw Golf Club is the 395 yard par 4 seventeenth, which I regard as one of the best par fours I have played. The hole is a slight dogleg left, playing straight away until the 150 mark, then dipping down for fifty or so yards before rising again to the green. The wide, but narrow green is at a 45 degree angle to the fairway, with the open end angled away. Sand guards the front left, and back right and left corners. The green is perfectly framed by trees which separate it from the 18th tee.
On the front nine, I love the 511 yard par 5 third. A straight tee shot keeps you out of a lurking bunker left and trees on both sides. The second shot is uphill to a crest that hides the green from view. On the approach shot, the front of the green is wide open, allowing players to get creative. Pitch and run; lob; even a putt from the fairway is possible.
In truth, though, I love every hole at Washtenaw Golf Club (except the par 3 fourteenth. I don’t love that one.) All are challenging, but a bogey golfer can still have a very good round by thinking strategically. Work hard at putting the ball in position to take advantage of the greens’ open fronts.
I have always found the playing conditions at Washtenaw Golf Club to be excellent. The grounds crew is to be commended for maintaining private club standards even as the course has transitioned to public.
The Washtenaw Golf Club review was first published April 9, 2020 from memories of countless rounds played at the club. The most recent round was in March 2020.
A course photo tour of Washtenaw Golf Club follows: