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Lakes of Taylor
by Terry Jacoby

There was a time when a municipal golf course was nothing more than a field. But as golf swung into the eighties and nineties, the sport grew to incredible popularity and golfers demanded more from their courses.

Many municipalities kept up. Places like Livonia, Riverview and Canton either built new courses or updated older ones. While keeping prices reasonable, municipal courses began to shed the "cow pasture" label.

In May 1995, the City of Taylor opened the first tee on its brand-new Lakes of Taylor Golf Club -- raising the standards of municipal courses to its highest level yet.

"We call it the public's club with country-club services," General Manager Mickey Dean said.

Actually, "country club" is an accurate description. Calling Lakes of Taylor a municipal course is like calling the Big Bertha a driver.

The course, which plays in the shadow of a breathtaking clubhouse-restaurant, was built on 350 acres on the city's west side, on Northline Road just east of Beech Daly. The first nine holes opened in May 1995 and the back nine in April 1996. Highly regarded architect Arthur Hills, who also designed Taylor's other course, Taylor Meadows, was brought in to turn the land into 18 holes of pure pleasure.

And he brought with him his bulldozer.

Hills sculpted the course using 1.5-million cubic yards of dirt and helped create 35 surface acres of water -- hence the name Lakes of Taylor.

"He created three different courses in one," Dean said. "We have holes in the woods, holes with a lot of water and six holes that are fairly open with undulated fairways. We have a lot of wetlands on the course."

Courses like Links of Novi and The Orchards in Washington like to use the phrase, "two courses in one." And these descriptions are right on the pin. The same is true with Lakes of Taylor. You come out of woods on one hole, and find yourself standing on the tee with an open fairway in front of you.

Let's take a ride out to some of the holes.

One of the more spectacular holes is No. 17. Few courses -- let alone a municipal course -- feature a par 3 with a peninsula-green. But Lakes of Taylor does. No. 17 requires a good 200-yard hit from the tee or you will be swimming in your bag for another Top Flite.

The par 3 No. 11 features a "split" green -- where the pin could be on either side.

"If you hit your tee shot on the green that doesn't have the pin, you have to move your ball off and hit," Dean said.

The green is more than 6,000 square feet and 172 yards from the back tee and 111 yards from the shortest tee.

Another challenge at Lakes of Taylor is three consecutive par 5's.

No. 8 is the toughest hole on the course. You need a good drive to give yourself a chance to carry the wetlands to a difficult-positioned green. A poor tee shot requires you to lay up.

No. 9 is another tough par 5 with a green smothered by sand traps. No. 10 gets you started on the back with another par 5.

No. 18, one of the more beautiful holes in Southeastern Michigan, is a par 5 with a peninsula-green. The fairway has bunkers along the right and water on the left.

Hills designed the course with his usual five sets off tees to help accommodate every caliber of golfer. The championship tees total 7,028 yards. The shortest tees 5,119 yards.

The city has tried to keep the cost down. Non-residents pay $35 on weekends and $28 during the week, plus $12 each for a cart.

Off the course, Lakes of Taylor also plays like a winner.

If you need a little practice, Lakes of Taylor's learning center features a putting green, two chipping greens and a short-game area. They also have three professionals on staff.

As you pull into the parking lot at Lakes of Taylor, you will be blown away by the brick mansion they call a clubhouse. When the bag-cart pulls up to your car to take your clubs, you will be shaking your head over the first-rate service.

But what you will remember the most when you pull out onto Northline Road, is the gold course. It is challenging and entertaining. With five sets of tees, every level of play is met. And no one would ever call Lakes of Taylor easy.

Instead, most would call it unique, spectacular, special.

The Top-10 list for southeastern Michigan has a new member. Welcome, Lakes of Taylor. v

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