The course, which has recently been awarded the US Open in 2034 and 2051, and the US Women’s Open in 2031 and 2042, has undergone many changes since Harrington’s heroics, with Gil Hanse being brought on board in 2019 to carry out some major renovations to the South Course to make it play easier for the membership, while making it more of a challenge to the game’s leading professionals. Those changes, which included removing trees, increasing the size of greens, removing some bunkers while increasing the size of those remaining, have certainly done the trick, although it still very much lives up to the nickname given to it by Ben Hogan as ‘the monster’.
Meticulously maintained – I’m sure I didn’t see a blade of grass out of place – the South Course is a majestic, yet brutal layout. The holes play long and the approach shots to the greens are some of the toughest I’ve ever played. Sadly, the club’s iconic clubhouse burned down earlier this year, but it was great to see that work has already started on its reconstruction, and while all that history has been lost, it will arise from out of the ashes into something equally iconic for future generations of golfers to enjoy.
For my final day in the great state of Michigan I went to watch the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club. Like all PGA Tour events, it attracted a huge local crowd, and had a great atmosphere, more like a garden party than a golf tournament, with lots of people who were clearly there for the hospitality and a good day out rubbing shoulders those who had come to watch the likes of Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa, Will Zalatoris, Cameron Young and Tony Finau in action. Finau, one of the stars the 2021 Ryder Cup team, went on to win the tournament, chalking up the fourth PGA Tour win of his already impressive career.
It was my first experience of a tournament outside of Europe, and it’s easy to understand why so many European players have chosen to base themselves in the States, given the excitement and razzamatazz that seems to surround the PGA Tour at each and every venue. And, yes, there are other factors, like the weather and the prize money.
For my final night in Detroit I ate at the Highlands Restaurant on the 71st floor of the GM Renaissance Center, one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.
Specialising in Wagyu beef, with an interesting mix of chops, cuts and rib racks and an impressive wine list, we ate a superb meal while enjoying the backdrop of the city skyscape from huge floor-to-ceiling windows.
It was certainly a suitably dramatic end to what had been a hugely memorable and wonderful surprisingly trip, and I came away not only having been impressed by the quality of the golf courses, the resorts and of the hospitality, but also by the warmth of the welcome that you receive as a traveller wherever you’re from.
If you, like me, judge a place by its people, then Michigan should definitely be on your list of destinations to visit, preferably with your golf clubs in tow.
The Southeast region of Michigan has become a hot bed for great golf courses
in recent years which will provide some great options for visiting golfers. It all began with Pine Trace Golf Club and The Orchards Golf Club in the early ‘90s. Pine Trace is a watery and woody track in Rochester, while The Orchards, a 7,100-yard layout designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr, features 93 bunkers, plenty of trees and wetlands.
Shepherd’s Hollow, a 27-hole Arthur Hills design located on dramatically rolling and wooded land 40 miles north of Detroit, instantly became one of the area’s top public golf facilities when it first opened, but it has since been joined by Westwynd Golf Course, a new green fee course which opened next to the ultra-exclusive Wyndgate Golf Club in Rochester Hills, with its 18 holes flowing serenely across a broad tract of hills, tall fescue plots and wetlands.
Variety of golf in one location is rare, but Fox Hills Golf & Banquet Center in Plymouth has managed it with aplomb. A 63-hole public golf complex that caters all levels of golfer, visitors can take their pick from the Classic Fox, Golden Fox and Strategic Fox courses, each of which boasts its own clubhouse. Strategic Fox was developed primarily as a way to grow the game and make it fun for beginners, while Classic and Golden are for more experienced players.
Other green fee courses in the area well worth a visit include Cherry Creek, Blackheath, Fieldstone, Northville Hills, Twin Lakes, Moose Ridge and Boulder Pointe.
For more details on where to play in the Detroit area visit: visitdetroit.com/golf-courses-detroit/
Detroit may not seem like obvious mini break destination, but as a starting and finishing point for a golf trip to Michigan, ‘Motor Town’ has got so much to offer for the travelling visitor.
Subject to huge investment in recent years, the compact and very walkable downtown area is packed with museums, theatres, art exhibitions, food halls, market, restaurants, bars and, of course, the iconic stadiums that are home to city’s two main sports teams, the NFL’s Detroit Lions and the NBA’s Detroit Tigers.
Car fans, and even those who aren’t, will enjoy a visit to The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, which serves as a vast repository for some of the country’s most innovative inventions and cultural touchstones of the past century, including those iconic Model-T Fords, racing cars from Indy, stock and drag racing history, cars from US Presidential motorcades, the actual bus Rosa Parks made Civil Rights history on in 1955, and numerous other pop-culture artifacts. With loads of simulators, hands-on activities and immersive experiences, it’s a great way to spend a few hours before or after hitting the links.
Music fans will not want to miss out on the Motown Museum, which gives visitors the opportunity to walk in the musical footsteps of a glittering roster of artists that include the likes of the Supremes, Smokey Robinson, the Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, and the Temptations; while art lovers should make time to soak up some culture within the open spaces and quiet corridors of the Detroit Institute of Arts, where a vast 65,000-piece collection that encompasses American, European, African, Asian, Native American, Islamic, Modern and contemporary works can be viewed in sublime surroundings.
Noisy and fun nights out can be enjoyed in any number of restaurants, bars and clubs in the downtown area, while there are concerts and shows by big-name music acts, comedians and live theatre to be enjoyed at the city’s historic 5,000-seater Fox Theatre.
For details of things to see and do in Detroit, plus the latest events, check out visitdetroit.com
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