University of Michigan Golf Course
I was just entering the 2014 college football schedule into my calendar for my Utah Utes. Tough go for us being fairly new in the Pac-12, but I digress. The 3rd game on the schedule this season is at the “Big House,” also known as the University of Michigan’s football stadium. The place holds something like 12.2 million fans. A few weeks ago I was across the street from the big house playing golf at the University of Michigan Golf Course. What a fantastic place. The course is not quite publicly accessible, but there are several ways one can get a round in on this wonderful layout. If you get the chance, do it.
The course is the home of the Michigan golf teams and is closed for play during competitions. The course is also closed on football days, where it doubles as a parking lot.
Ever heard of Alister MacKenzie? He designed the University of Michigan Golf Course, which opened in 1931. He’s the same golf course architect who designed Augusta National Golf Club (home of the Masters Tournament) with the help of Bobby Jones. One other highly ranked architectural masterpiece he created was Cypress Point.
Having visited Augusta National many times, I could definitely get the feel of MacKenzie’s style and creativity at the University of Michigan course. The way he utilized the rolling hills, angles, and elevation changes on the property is magnificent.
Arthur Hills performed a restoration on the course in 1994, which according to the University of Michigan, “restored the grandeur of the University Golf Course to the ranks of MacKenzie’s other classics.”
Total yardage for the golf course from the tips, also known as the Wolverine Tee, is 6687 yards. The course rating is 72.0 and slopes at 135. These numbers translate to a strong challenge, but not over the top in terms of difficulty. There are three other tee sets for players of varying age, gender, and ability level.
I’m not sure which club I prefer the most on the tees at the University of Michigan Golf Course, my driver or my Nikon. The framing of the holes from the tees is fabulous.
Tee – click to zoom
Tee shots are not extremely difficult, but with the movement of the course, trees lining the fairways, and some deep native grass areas, errant tee shots are one-way tickets to bogey land.
Like Augusta National, the fairways at U of M roll with the hilly terrain. Challenging lies await, producing approaches which are a fine test of shotmaking. The fairways are not overly narrow, but due to the movement of the holes, proper placement is a big advantage on approach shots.
Fairway – click to zoom
There are many “course management” scenarios. On some par-4 holes and even one particular par-5 (3rd hole) driver may not be the perfect club to hit off the tee, but is still an option.
The greens are very fun and unique at the U of M course. First, they are not terribly large so hitting them in regulation is a solid accomplishment.
Green – click to zoom
There are very large undulations and tiers in the greens which can break those medium to small sized greens into even smaller areas. If an approach finds the wrong one, two-putting is a challenge but not impossible.
The shaping and framing of the greens on this course is very pleasing to the eye.
Full supporting facilities in the form of practice areas, pro shop, and dining are offered at U of M.
Playing the U of M golf course was a fantastic experience. I loved the layout, the flow, routing, scenery, and especially the conditioning. I strongly recommend playing the course if you get the chance. I cannot wait to get back and take another shot at it.
Hooked On Golf Blog University of Michigan Golf Course photo gallery.
Other Hooked On Golf Blog Michigan golf reviews.
On my recent Hooked On Golf Blog World Tour stop in Michigan I had the pleasure of playing the Arthur Hills designed Shepherd’s Hollow Golf Club. Humidity was 100%. It was so humid driving there that we had to use the windshield wipers, despited it not actually “raining.” The rainy and cloudy conditions made capturing decent photos difficult. It also made capturing pars and birdies difficult.
Shepherd’s Hollow Golf Club – click to view more photos
Despite the gray skies, I’ve posted a Shepherd’s Hollow Golf Course photo gallery here for you to check out.
While on a golf press trip to fabulous Michigan this past week, we visited the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. The museum is about 45-60 minutes from Detroit. I had no idea the museum existed prior to this trip and I’m glad to have experienced such a great place, full of so many historic artifacts not just related to the auto industry.
Click photo to view Ford Museum photos
Inside the Ford Museum were of course, lots of old Ford cars, like the Model T. In addition to the cars there were other items related to the growth of industry , commerce, air travel, and technology. Everything from locomotives to cotton gins to airplanes to machines used on the first Ford assembly lines to create parts for their cars.
Also in the museum is a whole section titled “With Liberty and Justice for All.” Inside that section were all sorts of historic items related to freedom of speech, civil rights, independence, and equality for women. A very special exhibit related to civil rights was the actual bus Rosa Parks rode in when she refused to move to the back of the bus in 1957. I sat in the same seat. It was quite humbling.
Rosa Parks Bus – click for more Ford Museum photos
The items I enjoyed the most were the Rosa Parks bus, full sized trains/locomotives and the presidential limousines.
If you are in Michigan, around the Detroit area, be sure to visit the Henry Ford Museum. I did not spend enough time there and plan on going back soon to see all the great things I missed.
Visit the HOG Ford Museum photo gallery.
There are many amazing golf choices in Las Vegas and I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing quite a few. For non-residents the cost of a round of golf in Las Vegas can be quite painful, upwards of $300-$500. There are great values to be found in the area though. With great weather most of the year, conditioning is usually quite good even on courses which are not as expensive. Today’s review features one of the lesser known and better values in Vegas golf, Rhodes Ranch Golf Club.
Rhodes Ranch Golf Club – Aerial photo © by Tony Korologos – click to zoom
Rhodes Ranch Overview
Rhodes Ranch is roughly a 30 minute drive southwest (depending on crazy Vegas traffic) from the Las Vegas Strip. From the south end of the Strip it could even be as short as 15-20 minutes.
Rhodes Ranch opened in 1997. The course occupies over 160 acres which feature very undulating topography. Those undulations were masterfully used by course architect Ted Robinson Sr., to produce fun challenges and interesting shot options for the player.
The course measures 6,909 from the tips, not terribly long. Length is great, but the course plays better with a more strategic approach. There are many risk/reward opportunities and holes which one can take conservative approaches or opt for more aggressive play. Much of the course is lined by tall, mature palm trees.
First hole heads toward the Las Vegas Strip – click to zoom
Tee shots at Rhodes Ranch are visually pleasing and not extremely threatening, barring a few forced carries. Landing areas are usually obvious, some tempting the player to cut the corner of doglegs.
Errant tee shots will be rewarded with odd lies on the rolling hills which frame the fairways and may be stymied by adjacent palm trees. Poor tee shots will find the Nevada desert. In both errant tee shot cases, players are able to recover without sending their scorecards into oblivion.
The fairways at Rhodes Ranch are wide and inviting, with undulations which can produce challenging lies. Some undulations require some strategy in shot placement for the player, who must pick a proper landing spot in order for the shot to finish in a flat area or a position with a good look at the green.
There are fairway bunkers, arroyos, and a few other challenges which can be penal to poor shots, but not scorecard busters.
One of the best parts about the fairways at Rhodes Ranch is the conditioning and maintenance. See in the photo below how perfect the grass is. Having walked the grounds for the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club many times, I can say without hesitation that the fairways at Rhodes are a very close second. When I asked regulars who play the course often about the conditioning, they told me the course is perfectly maintained year-round.
Look at how perfect the fairways at Rhodes Ranch are!
The green complexes are very scenic. Many feature beautiful landscaping, palm trees, and are framed by fine bunkering.
Putting the greens at Rhodes Ranch was just as fun as playing the perfectly groomed fairways. The conditioning was fantastic and they rolled true, albeit slower than the mountainside greens I’m accustomed to.
The greens were smooth, yet completely receptive to golf shots from even long irons.
Rhodes Ranch Scenic 3rd Hole – click to zoom – © Tony Korologos
The clubhouse at Rhodes Ranch is impressive. On one side is a fully stocked pro shop with lots of great gear and apparel. On the other side is the restaurant, a great place to have a beer or other cold beverage after the round. In my case, make that two.
The practice facilities are top notch, with a large desert driving range and a very large practice green which could accommodate dozens of players.
For a non-resident player during a primetime slot, rates at Rhodes Ranch hover around $100. That’s very reasonable for Vegas. If players are willing to brave the heat, twilight rates can cut that cost in half. Resident rates hover around $60 with twilight rates in the $30’s.
Rhodes Ranch Golf Club Las Vegas
From the moment I pulled up to the bag drop to the time I finished off my 2nd frosty beverage in the restaurant, the service level at Rhodes Ranch was excellent. All staff courteous, attentive, and helpful. A special mention goes to the great service of assistant pro Jeff Bricker in the pro shop.
Before booking a round of Vegas golf at the Wynn Golf Club, Bali Hai, Rio Secco, or Cascata, consider Rhodes Ranch. The course is fun to play, manicured brilliantly, and will not beat you up. Plus, you could play this fun course several times for the cost of playing the expensive Vegas courses once.
The new “Old Pavilion” is open at the Old Course in St. Andrews.
“The Old Pavilion will give room for the golfer to wait in comfort, use the toilets and be offered light refreshments.”
After over 1400 years, there’s finally somewhere a golfer can go to use the bathroom when waiting for a tee time on the Old Course! For those who have yet to enjoy the experience of “gowf” at the Old Course, the only facilities nearby could be found inside of clubs and pubs like the Dunvegan. And going in the Dunvegan meant consuming a “wee pint,” which then created the need to use the facilities. Sort of a vicious cycle…
Old Course – Old Pavilion – click for more photos of the Old Course
Can’t wait to experience the new Old Pavilion and see the new Caddie Pavilion as well, when I return in the summer of 2015.
Check out the St. Andrews Links Trust Blog (one of my top reads) for more on the Old Pavilion and the Caddie Pavilion.