Orchard Lake

The course is the best Alison in the Motor. Orchard has the best tree management of any course one could play. The strength of the course is it’s the best driving course in the Motor. Alison was extremely efficient with his bunkering. Less is more with Alison at Orchard, the bunkers are big flash faced and true hazards even though they have fu fu sand like every other top tier club (“and the current fashions set the pace, lose your step fall out of grace”- Weir/Barlow). The two 9’s were switched from the original Alison routing. There are 5 greens that have been altered (2, 4, 8, 12, and 15) since Alison designed the course and there are no Alison green sketches to boot. If only the greens were as good as Kirtland’s, OLCC would be unanimously considered great. The 1st is a very good opener. The green sits up on the end of a ridge and bold deep Alison bunker guards the front right portion. A fairway bunker on the left gives the player a key to come into the hole from the left side of the fairway. The green site is a very bold Alison green and makes getting above the hole troublesome for the player. The 3rd has a Redanish feel to it even though Alison might not have tried to go for that style. The front left bunker cuts into the green pad so well and the wise player is aiming for the right portion of the green off the tee. The par 3s as a group are really top tier at Olcc. Many solo visitors may view 4 and 6 as being too similar because they are the same length, even though one has fairway bunkers and one doesn’t. Each green is a different dimension as well. These Alison subtleties are overlooked by the rater and those with few plays or awareness. This was a similar problem with #2 & #11 at Inverness down the street, raters thought they were too similar because of their lengths and bunkering. Which couldn’t be further from the case with totally different green pads, approaches, and strategy off the tee was completely different. The 2nd was lengthened there to chase a tourney and appease the raters (ick). The 8th is not just a beautiful hole, it provides lots of thinking off the tee. The fairway has a lot of movement in it and when playing firm one can run out of real estate on the left. If down wind, many times a 3-wood is the wise play off the tee. The green is guarded on both sides by bunkers. Distance control is rewarded into this slender green that is longer front to back than the width. The 9th was altered the most from the original Alison routing. To the left of the current tee box is a peat bog. The original tee box was up and to the left about 150 yards. It had a lot less leg to it and was more of a drive and pitch hole for a better player. I like the current teeing ground but the fairway bunker needs to be removed and the strategy coming into the green with green-side bunkers was never addressed to make the strategy more logical. I think the 9th is the weak point of Olcc. The hole has improved from a playability perspective with drainage added to the fairway. The 12th is a really strong 3 shot par 5. This hole plays drastically different depending on the wind. If into the wind, getting to the fairway can be a challenge with a miss hit off the tee. Downwind I’ve seen some pin high in two. The 16th hole a well bunkered shorter par 3 should be restored to its previous length, lengthening holes isn’t always the right thing to do. The 17th is a stunning hole. The tee shot is exciting as you are trying to get it out there in the fairway as far as you can. The 2nd shot is uphill which makes it intimidating and requires a well struck shot into the green. Just mowing the steep approach looks challenging. The 18th is a very unique drive and pitch hole. There is loads of room on the left with the fairway connected to the 1st fairway, but the green is uphill from there. I like being on the right side of the fairway being more level to the green. The green is well protected as well. However, the green is one of the best on the course imo. It proves that a long tough finishing hole is not required to make a great course. A day at Orchard is not to be missed!