University of Michigan

Nestled on the outer edges of downtown Ann Arbor lies a beautiful piece of land and a course designed by Mackenzie/Maxwell. What’s interesting about UofM is that the clubhouse sits on the lowest or one of the lowest points of the course. Typically, in the Golden Age, clubhouses were perched on the highest points. Unfortunately, the old clubhouse which fit and blended in so well with the property was knocked down and replaced with a much less desirable one. The maintenance practices have improved over the last 5 years with brushes on the mowers and reduced grain on the greens. Some tree removal and green reclaiming over the last 5 years have improved UofM. The course is waiting for a donation for Mike DeVries to fully restore this course to its glory. The front 9 is as good as any nine in Michigan imo. The opening hole gets criticized by some, which makes little sense to me if one has good eyesight. It’s a reachable par 5 with a perfectly placed bunker 40 yards short of the green on the right for those who come out of their 2nd leaving the dreaded long bunker shot. The green is spectacular and one of the best on the course. The spine that runs through it leaves many interesting pin placements to say the least and your short 3rd better have good distance control. What needs to happen to improve the hole for the weaker player and aesthetically is to re-route the entrance for football parking that cuts through the 1st fairway with rough on both sides of the road. The continuity of the hole and the 2nd shot is ruined. Why they didn’t route the road from behind the 1st green and between the 1st green & 8th tee box is beyond me. To address the dumb notion about parking cars on the rough of the course, I’ve played the course the day after a home football game and you would never know they parked on the course the day before. It keeps the rough from getting thick! The 2nd is really good because the tee shot is exciting. Depending on the wind and if a solid tee ball is struck, one can have a 2 iron or a wedge into the hole. It’s paramount to get it down the hill off the tee. Now the 3rd is the best par 5, I’ve ever played. The tee shot is great thrill, trying to hit it hard to catch the downslope over the hill. If one can get it to the 200-yard mark, you have a shot to hit it in two with a downhill lie to a green perched on a ridge. The trees on the left obstruct the view of the green and the threat of lawsuits with 4-tee to the left prevent the course from cutting the large pines down, which would give you an unobstructed view of the green. I’d rather have a cage or net over the 4th tee box than the pines! The green is similar to 18 at Inverness, sloping hard right to left. This makes the 3rd from 100 yards terrifying. UofM is similar to Franklin Hills, in that they both have a lot of world class holes on one course. UofM’s world class holes are (3, 6, 13 imo), and the 15th is my favorite hole on the course. The 6th hole leaves the longer hitter with options, such as driving the green or laying up with an iron. A beautiful boomerang green awaits the golfer. Pin placement can affect a golfer’s decision making off the tee. Standing on the par three 5th tee box, one can see a bunker that looks like it is behind the 5th green, but is actually the greenside bunker on the 6th hole in the background, which showcases Mackenzie’s camouflaging skills. Holes 12-15 are a really great stretch of golf. The 12th is an excellent long par 3, few in the country are as good as this one. 20 yards short of the green, they need to address drainage/irrigation/thatch issues and firm it up. The green is so well designed and yields solid pin placements. There is a ridge that leads up to the back right portion of the green. A bunker pinches in on the right accentuating the shaping left to right into a back pin with a 2-iron to 3 wood in most attempts. On to one of the best drive and pitch short par 4s in the country, #13. A large bunker on the left cuts into the left side of the fairway and pinches in. The player can either pull a driver and shape it over the bunker to a fairway that opens up on the left and a beautiful diagonal green awaits them. With pin placements dictating play from the tee and the difficulty of the hole changes depending on where the pin is located. Angles matter on 13 and options are abundant. However, the hole has declined in recent years with native areas added on the left that run wild creating a haven of lost balls and reducing strategy off the tee. All in an attempt to receive an Enviro awards would be my guess. The 14th is a beautiful short par 3, with the 2nd boomerang green on the course. A ridge separates the front from the back of the green. The green is long front to back and gives many variances in club selection from day to day. Now to my favorite hole on the course, #15. The tee is the highest point of the hole, the fairway is generous and slopes left to right. The green is diagonal and the front right bunker is so well placed. Angles matter on the 15th as you want to hug the left side of the fairway to have the best route to the green. The fairway is generous and easy to hit, but coming in from the right is a much more difficult shot. Pines and native areas on the left side rough are too close to the fairway and effect playing lines. The course is trying to protect par too much and the trees encourages too much conservative play off the tee. Cut rough is all that is needed to cause fliers and difficulty in hitting the green in reg, while also allowing for a great recovery. Technology unfortunately has eroded UofM’s ability to defend par with the college golfer only to leave the average golfer with reduced enjoyment interacting with the golf course due to failed attempts to protect old man par for the flat bellies. UofM is excellent (1-15), but unfortunately the finish is very weak (16-18). Tree removal would most definitely improve 16 & 17 imo. If Mike DeVries is able to restore the creek which fronted the 18th green pad originally and remove the awful pond, this could drastically improve the finish at UofM. UofM fully restored is a top 100 golf course period. Unfortunately, too much of the rankings are focused on conditioning instead of substance. UofM does a great job of providing the community with a great golf course for an affordable fee, season pass access for non-University affiliates, and to anyone just passing through.