By Dave Finn
It has been well documented that the economy in parts of Michigan has been weakened by the downturn in the North American auto industry. And Flint, home of the Buick, is no exception. But, for us out-of-state golfers, it means that great golf can be had at a fraction of the price of what we would pay back home.
Like most golfers I know, we stayed at a clean and affordable Comfort Inn in nearby Davison, which is centrally located near the area courses. Our golf tour began with a 25-minute country drive to the Captain’s Club at Woodfield.
This Raymond Floyd Signature 18-hole championship golf course boasts large, undulating and receptive greens with a challenging and well-manicured layout. There are nine dogleg holes on this par 72 course, so pick the right tee blocks to suit your game. From the tips, this course measures out to only 6765 yards but, at that distance, plays to a rating of 73.3 and a slope of 133. This course offers a good mixture of tree-lined tight holes along with open, but equally challenging, links-style holes. On the back nine, there are three short par 4s (11th, 13th and 14th) that are drivable, if you are John Daly. But for most of the rest of the world, hit an iron off the tee and get yourself in good position for your second shot. I would have to say that the 17th and 18th would be considered their signature holes. The 17th is a picturesque tee shot and the 18th is a long par 5 that will test your finishing skills.
For more information on the Captain’s Club at Woodfield, you can visit their website at www.CaptainsClubatWoodfield.com or call them at 810-695-4653. AND, the cost for golf, including power cart with GPS system, was a measly $22.00 USD, since they classified me as a senior at 50 years old and we played on a weekday before 1:00 pm. Now, where else can you go for that price?
Next, it was off to nearby Fenton and Coyote Preserve. Do not miss this course! What a gem! It’s an Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course that has been rated one of the “top 10 public golf courses in Michigan” by Golf Digest. And, it’s no wonder! My first thought was how pristine this course was and how scenic the holes were. The greens were large and undulating but rolled very true.
For only $30.00 USD including cart (because we are older and wiser, and played after 2:00 pm on a weekday), we were treated to one of the most scenic and picturesque “Up North Feel” (as they like to say) courses that we have ever played. This challenging layout offers plenty of elevation changes, with water on all but four holes and greens that roll beautifully. So bring out your “A” game because, from the blue tees, this course measures only 6580 yards (black is 6912) but has a slope of 132 and a course rating of 73.3. Fortunately, Palmer was given an ideal 400-acre piece of property to work with, and he used it to his advantage and kept a lot of area untouched to retain its natural beauty. This course feels like you are playing in Northern Michigan or Northern Ontario, but you are just off US 23, only minutes south of Flint. I’m not sure what impressed me the most—the scenery (including two herons), the challenge, the condition of the course or the price—but Coyote Preserve is definitely on my “have to play list.” For more information on the Coyote Preserve Golf Club, visit their website at www.coyotepreserve.com.
Next up was the Fenton Farms Golf Club for a game. It was the Saturday of a long weekend and there were maybe 20 cars in the parking lot. Where I come from, this is unheard of! Saturdays and Sundays are usually booked solid, a week in advance. The front nine on this course might lull you to sleep, but the back nine is much more exciting and worth the trip. The rough has been cut down so you can spray the ball and still not be “in jail” – ideal for higher handicaps. With its respectable course rating of 71.7 and a slope of 125 from the 6600 yard blues, I would recommend that you play this course first to get the kinks out of your swing.
Fenton Farms proves that it’s not always the difficulty of the course or the famous designer who sculpted it that makes a course memorable. Sometimes the friendly staff and relaxed atmosphere sets it apart.
The 13th may be considered their signature hole. From the blues, you have to hit a long iron of 186 yards over the entire marshland. And if you don’t (which I did), the drop area may be shorter but you still have to contend with the swamp, trees and bunkers. Accuracy off the tee is crucial on the 14th, a short par 4. Bust one past the fairway bunkers (or hit into them, as I did), which will leave you with a short iron over a deep-faced bunker that guards the front of the green. For more information on Fenton Farms you can visit their website at www.fentonfarms.com.
That afternoon, we drove to Burton (very close to our hotel) and played the IMA Brookwood Golf Club. This time there was about 30 cars in the parking lot, and the cost was $33.50 USD on weekends with cart ($22.00 USD for seniors on weekdays). Unbelievable! This stately old course was built in 1938 is well forested but open in and around the trees for easy playability. There are plenty of doglegs, so it helps to know where and what to hit for the optimum position for your second shot to these soft and receptive greens. Hole #18 can be a bear! Ranked as the toughest hole on the course, this dogleg left 4, par 4, is 422 yards from the whites (472 for the blues) but your approach shot is the challenge. If you’re short, you’re in the water. A great finishing hole!
With a slope of 130 and a course rating of 73.2, from the 6911 yards tips to the front tees at 5156 yards, this course is playable for all levels. For more information on the IMA Brookwood Golf Club, you can visit their website at www.brookwoodgolfclub.com.
From my personal experience, there are few, if any, golf destinations in the northeastern U.S. or Southeastern Canada that can compare to the Flint area for quality and value. Where else can you possibly play 18 holes of championship golf in prime time, with cart, hotel and breakfast starting at $52.00 USD per night? This area has a glorious opportunity to attract new visitors, to a virtually untapped market, by offering tremendous value for a golf experience that anyone can afford. I’ll be back and I’ll tell my friends.
For further information on golf packages in the Flint area, please visit the Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce at www.flintandgenesee.org/visit/packages/golf-packages/.
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