If you’ve read some of our other course guides about Michigan, you might remember that best friend from college, Dan, lives in Anne Arbor and we do a buddies’ trip every year.
While I’ve written extensively about golf across the state, I’ve yet to touch on Detroit. Dan and I have played quite a bit of golf here over the years, but I’m still not an expert.
Fortunately, many of our readers are. And they’re damn prideful not only about the Motor City, but its golf too. That was evident after I received multiple emails asking for an article highlighting the best public courses.
Of course, I was more than happy to oblige. Below are our collective thoughts.
Lakes of Taylor Golf Course
The venerable Arthur Hills designed the Lakes of Taylor Golf Course. It’s been open since 1995.
This track gives you a warm welcome on the first hole with an elevated tee shot that plays down to an amphitheater-like fairway. If you miss left or right, the ball should bounce down to the short stuff.
From there, the course asks you to think your way around and execute quality shots.
While there are some difficult holes, they’re interspersed with some scoring opportunities.
After you play, stick around for some food and a drink in the Lake House Grille. The menu is substantial and the views are to die for.
Wesburn Golf Course
Since 1910, Wesburn Golf Course has been enjoyed by Detroit golfers.
Even though the course only measures 6,300 yards, it’s quirky and a solid test. Length isn’t going to get you a whole lot. Instead, accuracy and proper course management are rewarded.
As you might expect, the routing is old school. The fairways are narrow and there are plenty of doglegs. You’ll have an advantage if you can move the ball both directions off the tee.
The greens present tiny targets as well. Even though you’ll have a lot of short clubs for approach shots, you’d best be precise if you want to putt for birdie.
A track that’s steeped in tradition and a treat to play, Wesburn is one my favorites. I’m not alone either.
Fellows Creek Golf Course
Three distinct nines await at Fellows Creek. If you have the chance to play all three, do it.
Each nine was designed by the native Michigander father-son team of W. Bruce and Jerry Matthews.
While each nine has its own unique characteristics, length is a theme throughout each one. Being able to drive it straight and long is a big help.
Along with three great nines, this facility has a full-service clubhouse and practice facility.
One of the best values in all of Detroit, and always in good condition, put Fellows Creek on your list.
St. Clair Shores Golf Club
St. Clair Shores opened in 1975 and was also designed by the Matthews father-son duo.
This course isn’t long at all by modern standards. It only measures 6,015 yards.
However, it’s anything but short on character. That’s especially true on the greens. They’re small, undulating, and can be tricky to read. If you have the chance to play with a regular, take full advantage of their local knowledge.
The course is owned by the city and is one of the busiest in all of Detroit. However, pace of play moves along. For the fastest rounds, try to play in the morning or during the week.
Fox Creek Golf Course
The city of Livonia owns and operates a number of public courses. According to the locals, Fox Creek is the crown jewel.
Opened in 1988, this track is the tale of two nines. The front nine is a lot longer, but much more forgiving off the tee. Even though the back nine is shorter, its fairways are narrow, and accuracy is crucial.
Water is also part of the story. It comes into play on 13 of the 18 holes.
Don’t be surprised if you have a gallery during your round too. Fox Creek is home to abundant wildlife including deer, foxes, and too many birds to name.
A quality design and full experience, Fox Creek is a great choice for a round.
Sanctuary Lake Golf Course
Sanctuary Lake is one of the more unique tracks in the entire Detroit area. The links layout is unusual in this part of the world.
Sprawled out over 190 acres, there’s plenty of room here. Some 80 bunkers come into play and the small, undulating greens make for difficult targets.
If you have the chance, play a couple rounds here. Learning how to use the ground and local knowledge are a big help when it comes to scoring.
Should you only have time to practice, Sanctuary Lake is a great spot. The range boasts 70 hitting bays and plenty of targets. The short game area is second to none as well.
Sylvan Glen Golf Course
Also in the city of Troy is Sylvan Glen Golf Course. It dates back to 1922.
If you’re a fan of classic American designs, this is it. The fairways are tree lined and accuracy and strategy are much more important than length.
Holes move both left and right, and the greens are small. Being able to control distance and move the ball left and right are necessary to keep it in play.
If you happen to be in town after the snow has fallen, come out to the course where both sledding and cross-country skiing are popular activities.
Always in exceptional condition, Sylvan Glen has everything you could want.
Riverview Highlands Golf Club
Riverview Highlands is another premier 27-hole facility. It’s located in its namesake city.
All three nines epitomize American target golf. The fairways are lined by mature trees. Bunkers and water hazards protect the greens.
While the layout is a quality one, the practice facility is equally as good. The turf driving range has multiple decks and enough targets for every club in your bag. In addition to three putting greens and a short game area, three full-length practice holes allow you to easily simulate on-course practice.
Whether you’re here to play or practice, Riverview Highlands is sure to meet your expectations.
Dearborn Hills Golf Course
Another old course in the Detroit area that’s stood the test of time is Dearborn Hills. It opened in 1923 and was designed by Robert Herndon.
You won’t need to hit many drivers at Dearborn Hills. It measures less than 4,500 yards and plays to a par of 60.
As you’d expect, what this course lacks in lengths it makes up for in character and quirks. The fairways are narrow and large trees overhang certain parts of some greens. The latter calls for some serious creativity on your approach shots.
A great place for a casual round and a great value, don’t hesitate to give Dearborn Hills a try.
Southwinds Golf Club
One of the most affordable rounds of golf in the Detroit area is Southwinds Golf Club. Just because it’s affordable however, doesn’t mean it’s subpar.
Having opened in 1977, this property has been a Detroit favorite for more than 40 years.
Even though the course is short, it’s a blast to play and is always in tip-top condition. Of particular note are the greens which roll as true as any other public course in the area. If you’re dialed in with your short irons and get the flatstick dialed in, you can make a lot of birdies.
In short, Southwinds has everything you need and nothing you don’t. An enjoyable round for golfers of all abilities at a price you can’t beat.
There’s no denying that Detroit has received a bad rap ever since the American automotive industry dried up.
I’m here to tell you that things are turning around in a big way. The city’s residents more than agree as well. Areas of the city that once seemed dead, are now thriving with culture and commerce. The place is becoming more alive by the day.
A large part of that story is golf. There are more than enough affordable public facilities to whet any appetite.
I want to extend my sincere thanks to everyone that made this article possible. I hope that Dan and I run into some of you next time we’re in town.
If you have more information you’d like to add, drop a note in the comments below.