Moe's 2004 Michigan Golf Trip
We started the trip by playing Shaker Run, (www.shakerrungolfclub.com) which is just north of Cincinnati near Lebanon, Ohio. This course offers 2 nines designed by Arthur Hills in 1998 and another nine by Michael Hurdzan. You want to play the Hills course. We paid more money several times on this trip, but we didn’t play a better course. My idol used a big lake, several creeks and ponds, bunkers, and mature trees in a layout of 18 great holes. He also used the shape of the greens to add difficulty. If you have a tight approach shot with trees on the left and a creek down the right side, that green will be narrow but deep. If you have a 165 yard par 3 over water like #2 on the Lakeside nine, then that green will be wide but shallow; with bunkers behind the green. Go long and face a sand shot with the pond waiting for you! Number 9 on both Hills nines is a beautiful cape hole. How much of the water can you carry?

Number 6 on the Woodlands nine is a 190 par 3 with a 100 foot drop down to the green with a pond on the front and left. Naturally I hit that one long and right into the trees. Did I mention that Shaker Run is well laid out, beautiful, and very difficult?

The 6th on the Woodlands nine!

Number 6 at Shaker Run is a 190 yard par three

After golf we drove up to Sidney to visit Michael Anthony, one of our favorite chefs. We found out he had moved, so we drove west 25 miles to the Inn at Versailles for our dinner. We were not disappointed. Sidney is on I-75 north of Dayton, and Versailles is a map dot west of Sidney on 47. We recommend the Inn, the restaurant, and the small town.

My 49th Art Hills course played was Maumee Bay, just east of Toledo. It’s billed as a “links course” which means no trees and lots of water and sand. Links courses belong on the coast of Scotland. The claim of “Links Course” in Midwestern America has a hollow ring. I still believe the term is used here when course owners are too cheap to plant trees. I don’t care what you call your course; when I’m waiting on a tee box for a slow foursome ahead, I like to wait in the shade. And now that I’ve seen the desolate look of Whistling Straits, I won’t be going there either.

But it’s not that I can’t play a “links” course. At Maumee Bay Moe made every putt for the first 14 holes. I was even par and on my way to a career round. Two doubles and two bogies later I ended at 78. It was my best round of the year, but still a disappointment. That’s golf!

Chelsea is a small Michigan town west of Ann Arbor. You can browse in the neat little shops on Main Street, visit the Jiffy Mills factory, and don’t fail to have dinner at The Common Grill. In Ann Arbor itself, I want to recommend the Red Hawk Bar and Grill for lunch or just to hang out. For fine dining try Daniel’s on Liberty, The Earle, or the Chop House. The Chop House is the tops in town for service and price.

That ball looks a little left, but remember Moe's a fader!

The fourth hole at Huron Breeze is a 154 yard par three

Huron Breeze (www.huronbreeze.com) is a nice start to a golf trip up the sunrise side of Michigan. The 1989 Bill Newcomb design is cut out of the Michigan forest and demands straight drives. It’s kind of a throwback design where they did not push around tons of earth. He used trees, water, and sand to provide the challenge.

Forest Dunes (www.forestdunesgolf.com) is a 2002 design by Tom Weiskopf. It was voted the “Best New Upscale” course in 2003 by Golf Digest. The upscale means we paid $125 to play it. We played on a 65 degree day in a light drizzle, but we could still tell that it was a nice layout that will be kept in great condition. They are building a big beautiful clubhouse now, and I think in a couple more years they will go private.

If you are ever in Traverse City, Michigan, drive up the Old Mission Peninsula. You can stop at several wineries for a tasting and then have dinner at The Boathouse. You will get a great meal in very nice surroundings with a view of the marina. After dinner have a Velvet Hammer. We taught them how to make it and the bartender made them BIG and good!

While we were out west we played several courses designed by Jim Engh, so we wanted to try his only effort in Michigan. It’s called Tullymore and it is part of the St. Ives Resort (www.stivesgolf.com) which is located just south of Big Rapids near Stanwood.

From behind the 560 yard, par five fifth at Tullymore

Jim Engh likes the WOW factor when he designs golf courses. Tullymore has a dramatic look to it, and some very impressive green and greenside bunker treatments that can be intimidating. But while he makes it look tough, he also uses grading techniques that bounce your ball in the RIGHT direction, and often save you from the visible danger. I played the course from 6200 yards and had a 78 with three double bogies. Next time I’ll try it at 6500 yards and maybe Jim’s scary looking features will actually be a problem.

My 50th Art Hills course turned out to be the Golden Fox course at Fox Hills Country Club (www.foxhills.com) in Plymouth, Michigan. It was a good Hills layout except for #15 which is my least favorite of all the Hills holes I have played (that would be 900 holes to this point). The “Alps” is a classic hole design that goes back to Donald Ross, Charles McDonald and beyond. You have a big mound between the fairway and the green. You can’t even see the pin. I think it was stupid when the first guy did it in the1800s, and it’s still stupid today. Blind shots are sometimes necessary due to terrain but should never be “created”. The Golden Fox was also very crowded on the Friday we played, and I hate slow golf. Maybe I needed something to hate by #15 besides the golfers in front of me.

It was another good trip with all good courses and 3 great ones.