University of Michigan Golf Course, an Alister MacKenzie classic, in prime shape for the 2012 NCAA regionals this weekend
It’s a rare treat to play an Alister MacKenzie course.
It’s the rarest of treats to be able to play one in tournament condition. No, I didn’t play Augusta National earlier this week.
But I did have a magical Mackenzie experience on the University of Michigan Golf Course, which is about as pure a MacKenzie course anywhere in the world. Although Arthur Hills did some work on it in the 1990s, this is as classic, and classy, as golf gets.
The 6,687-yard course, designed in 1931, was in absolutely stunning shape, primed and ready for the to host an NCAA Division I Regional Championship, which started today through Sunday. The fairway lines were checker-mowed in spots (check out the picture below). The greens were running faster than 11 on the stimpmeter, much quicker than I’ve ever experienced there. And the rough was four inches in spots. I haven’t hacked out of that much cabbage since the 2008 PGA Championship media day on the South course at Oakland Hills Country Club.
U-M is in the early stages of updating the course’s master plan with Mike DeVries, a MacKenzie aficionado who lives in northern Michigan and grew up on MacKenzie’s Crystal Downs Country Club. The U-M course still has great bones but some tree removal, bunker restoration and a few new back tees would do wonders for the place. General Manager Chantel Jackson says she wants to ensure the course will “always” be a MacKenzie. The staff has studied old photos and someday hope to return the greens, which are already great, to their original sizes.
There are many great courses in Michigan, but this is one place I could play every day for the rest of my life and feel satisfied. It’s just pure. The iconic 18th hole (see photo above) will always be one of my favorite views in the state.
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