by Art McCafferty
Bello Woods was started by the Soulliere family in 1968 and has been run by them ever since. Todd Soulliere has taken over from his father Ron, whose life is memorialized on the grounds and in the clubhouse of Bello Woods. Mike Schrade is the director of golf and Ken Jerzy the overall manager.
The Clinton River runs through two of Bello's nines, while the gold course gives the golfer a little more of a wooded look. The third nine, the Gold , was built in 1983. It is very playable and few serious hazards, besides the river, come into play.
They cater to outings and special events and have an excellent restaurant and bar. The view from their upscale clubhouse is terrific.
Bello Woods continues to draw crowds. Ken Jerzy indicated that the rounds of golf have continued to rise as the housing boom moves relentlessly toward them.
23650 23 Mile Road, Mt. Clemens 810-949-1200
Located in Northwest Macomb County, Bruce Hills is known by the locals as the "Golf Course Hidden in the Hills."
Peter Hans and his son (also named Peter), have been running the course for almost 20 years. It is inexpensive, out of the way, hilly and a nice way to spend an afternoon.
6771 Taft Road, Romeo, 810-752-7244
Cedar Glen is a little tough to find in the backroads of New Baltimore, but, once there you will find a fine course that has well served the community. However, changes are swiftly coming to this quiet course. A blueprint for the new clubhouse is now displayed in the old clubhouse. On the fringes of the Cedar's front nine, new homes are in various stages of completion. Like the upcoming clubhouse, these new homes reflect the new affluence coming to this area.
36860 25 Mile Road, New Baltimore, 810-725-8156
Cherry Creek is but one of a number of great tracts located just off M-53. This Lanny Wadkins/Mike Bylen design has been getting its share of rave reviews since opening a couple of years ago. It is an upscale facility with killer amenities: a clubhouse big enough to hit a nine over, an outdoor practice range that has 50 stations aiming at seven target greens, and practice greens and bunkers for putting and chipping. In the winter they erect a golf dome for golfers who need that January fix.
Wadkins' course design philosophy is on the friendly side of the friendly/punitive scale. He wants golfers to enjoy the round and keep coming back. Paul Clute, who also worked on the renovation of Fenton Farms, was involved with the construction. Mike Bylen continues as GM and Marty McCabe is the club professional.
While Cherry Creek seems to have matured quickly, it should be noted that the course already had an abundance of mature trees.
Jim Dewling's Total Golf helped to launch this course a few years ago. Total Golf, a Milford based company, has been involved with 25 golf properties since its inception over 20 years ago.
52000 24 Mile Road, Shelby Township, 810-254-7700
Cracklewood is sneaking up on its 10th anniversary. Portions of the course were from the prized potato farm of Joa Penzien. Joa and two of his nephews, purchased the bordering woods and put together a very nice golf course. The woods provide much of the trouble on the course, as it is lightly bunkered. However, water does come into play on over half of the holes.
It has an excellent practice area just off the clubhouse. The two-year-old clubhouse offers a nice view and pleasant surroundings in which to chat before or after your round. Kevin Nicholl heads up the pro shop and is assisted by Dan White. They are Hogan certified club fitters and instructors.
18214 24 Mile Road, Mt. Clemens, 810-781-0808
Fred Severini has built a pretty fair golf complex for a person that bought the land just so he could build some apartments. " I had to buy more land than I wanted for the apartment houses and decided that maybe I would put in nine holes of golf." said Severini, "the rest just kind of happened." What happened was a first rate golf, bowling and banquet complex that serves the needs of Clinton Township.
Fred remains the head of Fern Hill, but Fred Severini III is in the family business as director of golf. Fred harks back to the simply things in life as well as golf. "I play Gaylord Country Club as my vacation course, and I just love the naturalness of the course. I know that these great new courses are coming on, but I just do not believe golf should be such a struggle. We have tried to keep Fern Hill that way."
17600 Clinton River Road, Mt. Clemens, 810-286-4700
One of the first things you notice about Glacier Club, besides its magnificent 112 year old Farmhouse and new restaurant, is its 74.1 slope from the Championship tees. The course features over 80 bunkers, seven ponds and a stream that connects many of them. However, before you put your clubs back in the car, you should know that there are another four teeing areas to meet the swing thoughts of most golfers.
The second thing you will notice is the professional atmosphere of the place. This is due to the efforts of the director of golf, Jack Todhunter. Todhunter, one of many Ferris State University graduates to populate America's golf courses, spent some time in Nebraska as a pro, before joining the Glacier team when they opened the course in 1994. Jack has three PGA pros on site to assist in the large instructional program a Glacier Club. Jack makes no bones about it, he feels the Glacier Club is flat out the best course in Macomb and surrounding area.
The Glacier Club, soon to be a private, has the bloodlines for a great golf course. Designed by nationally known golf architect, Bill Newcomb, the Glacier Club is surrounded by a mixture of woods, water and meadows. The PGA and the USGA utilize the course for many of their qualifying tournaments.
8000 Glacier Club. Dr., Washington, 810-786-0800
Greystone's three finishing holes have lived up to the early reputation Jack Berry gave it in his 1993 Michigan Golfer preview of new courses. Dave Graulau, the new director of golf for Greystone, builds on that theme by proclaiming the last three finishing holes as "Best Finish in Michigan Golf."
Such a claim will no doubt put him in solid with his trio of bosses, Dave and Jeff Weber and Bob Brietmeyer, but it will most likely get him spirited mail from some of the other fine tracts in Michigan. For one, there is Hawk Hollow's "Final Four" to compare Greystone with. Perhaps the ultimate arbiter is Jerry Matthews who built both courses.
The 16th is a par three 209-yard hole into the prevailing wind to a peninsula green. Off the tee, you have to carry a fairly large wasteland, where being short is also being lost. The 17th is the kind of dogleg you would find on a Rottwieler. Mean! You can cut the dogleg, but again you will be in the prevailing wind. If you are short, you are wet. The 18th, a par 4, 451-yard hole, is the most difficult hole on the course. On their scorecard they tell, "Approach to green is scary, be careful."
In addition, you might also note the second hole on the course has an amateur architect, Joe Kropiewnicki, who designed it. Letting an amateur design a hole was one of the programs that Jerry Matthews brought to the forefront when he was president of the American Association of Golf Architects.
Dave Graulau indicated that there would be a number of changes in the clubhouse. He is having it renovated so that golfers can more readily see and marvel at the finishing holes. Perhaps with a brewski or two, golfers will be able to steady their nerves after surviving the "Best Finish in Michigan Golf."
67500 Mound Road, Washington, 810-752-7030
Hickory Hollow is a 35-year-old course that has watched the golf market come to them. They have watched as newcomers, Cracklewood and Sycamore Hills set up courses on both sides of them. However, according to Donna Rettell, Hickory Hollow's GM, there seems to be enough play for everyone. Donna said Hickory Hollow specializes in volume. "We specialize in banquets and golf outings and our bookings are extremely heavy." Hickory Hollow bills itself as the Home Course for the Longest Day in Golf.
You will find a pleasant and mature course that's had a lot of tender loving care. Howard Schade, the former greenskeeper, is memorialized on the course for his 30 years of service. Howard's son, Steve, has taken over the greenskeeper job. Is this a great country or what?
49001 North Avenue, Macomb, 810-752-7030
Heather Hills, located at the intersection of Macomb, Lapeer and Oakland counties, is away from it all. The dirt roads that take you to the course also seems to take you away from the fast lane. Joe Rayl, superintendent and graduate of the MSU Turf Management School, provides the outside role whereas his bride of four years, Hillary, manages the inside. A corporation of 65 members owns the course, which they launched in 1980 with the first nine, followed 11 years later with the back nine. "Everyone still prefers the original nine," said Rayl, " it has more hills and more interesting course scenery."
3100 McKail Road, Romeo, 810-798-3971
Golf and lots of it, is the theme of Maple Lane Golf Club since it began play in 1927. Maple Lane is a complex of 54 holes. Built by the Roehl family, it is now in its fourth generation of family management.
The Red Run River runs through the corner of the property and gives it a picturesque look as you pull into the area. Maple Lane and nearby Plum Brook and Rammler were started about the same time and all have a rich history. Maple Lane had the land to grow and did so. Their one-day record total for 18 hole rounds is 1400. Imagine that, 1400 rounds. Awesome.
33203 Maple Lane Road, Sterling Heights, 810-795-4000
It was just last year that the Michigan Golfer previewed the new Marsh Oaks course. Marsh Oaks joined what is now the Old Oaks course to form a dynamite duo at Oak Ridge Golf Club.
The past year has been kind to this Bruce Matthews' Design 3 layout. Obviously, the course has begun to fully grow in and the features that are so important to golf architects are becoming more visible. Although clearly the favorite course of Oak Ridge regulars, there is still much to be said about the original course.
Old Oaks plays to 6154 yards in comparison to Marsh Oaks' 6706. Old Oaks has the maturity of an older course and those who played it regularly like to get back and see how their current game stacks up. Jim and John Amatangelo have been working hard since they bought the course along with their fathers, (Guido and Otto) over a decade ago. Guido and Otto Amatangelo used to own nearby Salt River. Their sons now manage Oak Ridge while they spend more of their time with their Florida course, Rain Tree, located north of Fort Lauderdale. In constructing Marsh Oaks, Bruce Matthews worked with Otto and Guido to make the 11th hole a little special. It has a huge mound that makes it the highest point on the course.
Marsh Oaks boasts bent grass tees, fairways and greens. Golfers will find 60 bunkers, 14 ponds, and sensitive wetlands and split fairways awaiting them.
Oak Ridge has renovated its clubhouse and now provides a full service restaurant. They also have the use of a massive tent for outings. Further amenities include shower facilities, an excellent practice facility with three target greens, motor carts with canopies, rental clubs and just about anything else you would need for an enjoyable golfing experience. Oh yes, their hot dogs are hot and great.
35035 26 Mile Road, New Haven, 810-749-5151
A funny thing happened to Northbrook this year, they became a Metropark. Located within the Wolcott Metropark (still under development), Northbrook has undergone a number of changes. Currently, all of the administration is new. Dante Bianco II is the new pro and his assistant is Kraig Binder. Mike Lyons, formerly at Oakland Hills, has taken over as course superintendent. Binder said the major change will be the eventual elimination of leagues.
27 Mile Rd., Ray Township, 810-749-3415
Partridge Creek offers its patrons all the golf they can handle. The complex, owned by the Matthews family (no relation to architect Jerry Matthews), used to boast 54 holes. However, Jerry Matthews was brought in to help in the renovation. This included designing a new practice area and an 18-hole course, The Hawk, out of three nines that previously existed. (Note: The Hawk at Partridge Creek is reviewed in new course section.)
The 27 holes sans The Hawk at Partridge Creek represent good golf at modest rates. The North, South and West courses have the maturity you would expect from courses that were begun in 1959. The nines surround a new split level 25,000 foot practice area with target greens, 15,000 foot bent grass putting green and 2,000 feet for practice bunkers. Charles Sarlund is the head professional at Partridge Creek, Paul Duda is general manager, and Doug Mozal is the course superintendent. Sarlund has also brought on Jennifer Drolema and Rich Youngblood to help with instructional duties.
When you drive into the complex their new clubhouse and banquet center blows you away. It certainly is one of the biggest and best-looking structures in the state.
43843 Romeo Plank, Mt. Clemens, 810-228-3030
The Orchards is named after the apple and peach orchards so prevalent in this area. For those who have ever attended the Romeo Peach Festival, you get the idea. Since its debut in 1993, The Orchards has lived up to its early promise. It has received a mantel full of golf course awards and is generally considered one of the better golf courses in southeast Michigan.
Robert Trent Jones Jr., who joined his father's firm after his graduation from Yale, built The Orchards. It was his goal, as is quoted on The Orchards scorecard, to build a public course that had the aura of a private course. Owner Ron Dalby had just the piece of ground he needed to fulfill that goal. While there is some roll in Macomb County, Darby's course sits on one of the county's highest points. The staff pointed out that you can see GM's newly acquired Renaissance Center from the first tee on a very clear day.
The Orchards has an inviting clubhouse with a ceiling reminiscent of Mackinac Island's Mission Pointe. They have a well-stocked pro shop and a restaurant that will take care of most of your needs. This year, they are enhancing their tented area with a concrete slab to more formally recognize its continued presence. The Orchards also provides a rich variety of golf instructional programs.
62900 Campground, Washington, 810-786-7200
Dr. Frasher McKinley is a legendary figure around these parts. He was one of the town dentists and bought the course to help provide work for his nine children, who incidentally all became dentists. Jim O'Connell bought the place from Dr. McKinley and began to tidy up things. Having created the type of facility that he wanted, he began to plan for another course.
ary Michie, who spent many years at the former Hillcrest, now Movarian Hills course, is happy as a clam at his new spot. He looks forward to the new course coming on line. He is a big fan of Bill Newcomb from both the architectural and player side. He marveled at the humility of Newcomb, who he says did not even remember what year he made his Masters' debut. "He told me he thought it was the year Nicklaus repeated. Imagine that, he could not remember the year he played in the Masters. "
Al Doss, course superintendent, has been there since the McKinley days. He keeps the course in excellent shape. His boss, Jim O'Connell makes sure that the course has the latest equipment and is really into the payoffs of technology.
The course is a visual feast. The fairways that climb upward and away from the North Branch of the Clinton River catch the eye with their special cut. The river and five ponds make sure that the used ball concession never runs out.
16801 31 Mile Road, Romeo, 810-752-9633
Plum Brook is one of Michigan's fine old courses. Built in 1927, it has remained in the Beaupre family for all of these years. The theme of Plum Brook is to provide "Country club conditions at public course prices."
Paul Beaupre, owner and general manager, is the fourth generation of the Beaupre family at Plum Brook. He is very active in the Golf Association of Michigan, the USGA and the Michigan golf scene in general. In fact, he was a committee member with the GAM. Active involvement with the golf movement is a family tradition.
Paul is proud of his 4th generation status, but indicated that the club was almost sold once. "We tried to sell the course from 1942 to 48. People were not golfing much in those days. They were in the service or working in the plants. Frankly, we never got an offer. Then Arnold Palmer and television arrived about the same time and golf really took off," said Beaupre. "Remember Arnold Palmer won the US Amateur in Detroit in 1954. He really gave the game a boost." Paul has spent 35 years at Plum Hollow.
Michael Beaupre who worked on Plum Brook also designed Lockmoor Club in Grosse Pointe Woods and had his hand in on the design of the Country Club of Detroit. Finally, Ormond "Orm" Beaupre, who became the golf professional at Western Golf and Country Club, played in the U.S. Open.
William and Michael Beaupre designed Plum Brook between 1924 and its opening in 1927. While there have been irrigation renovation projects, the course has pretty much remained the same. However, recently there was some major construction and some length added on the 14th hole. The revised golf course added an additional 6 points to its slope, now at 115.
13390 Plumbrook Dr., Sterling Heights, 810-264-9411
Richmond Forest is one of the newer courses in Macomb. Designed by Design 3's Bruce Matthews, Richmond Forest is a good solid course. "I feel it is a real shotmakers course," said Matthews, "the secret to shooting well there is understanding that the approach is everything." Debuting in 1994, Matthews feels the course's maturity is a contributing factor to its increased popularity. "You have to remember," said Matthews, the ground we started with was 40% wetlands." Matthews is most proud of the third hole, a double dogleg par five and the par 3 14th, which features some excellent trapping.
Mike Daltz is general manager, green superintendent and part owner. He, along with partners Bob Wiegand of Wiegand Nurseries, built the course. The rounds have increased every year. One of the features they have is a Couples Special on Fridays. For $5.95 you get a great dinner after your round.
32 Mile Road, Richmond, 810-727-4742
One of the early courses in the Macomb area, Rammler is the same generation course as Plum Brook and Maple Lane. Its 6305 yards plays to a par 71 and yields a 113 slope. Corky Marcinkowski is the course professional. Mike Buchowski, a Rammler regular, considers the course to be one of the more challenging in the area.
Utica Road, Sterling Heights, 810-264-4101
Romeo, with its 36-hole layout, is moving some serious rounds in the area. The courses are both a little over 6000 yards and play fast and true. The seniors are a targeted group here and they don't disappoint the management. They do some serious numbers with senior golfers. This is your basic golf factory and people love it because they can play fast rounds and not pay a lot of money.
32 Mile Road, Lenox, 810-752-9673
The last time we visited St. Clair Shores we featured their manager Jerry Comeau on the cover. Jerry, who retired in 1996, was rewarded by the National Golf Foundation for St. Clair's program for slow play, tee time reservation system and overall course pride.
Sally Bandemer, who assisted Jerry before his retirement, has now taken over. She said that the course is more popular than ever and pumps out a mind boggling 80,000 rounds per year. Course superintendent Tim Derner works tirelessly to keep the course in good shape, despite its enormous traffic. Designed by Jerry and Bruce Matthews in 1975, the course is getting ready for some renovation this year. Jerry Matthews will rework holes 3-5 and tweak a couple of other areas.
Sally has recently seen an increase in adults learning the game. As a result, they have developed an instruction program with nearby neighbor, Jawor Golf Center.
22185 Masonic Blvd., St. Clair, 810-294-2000
Formerly owed by Guido and Otto Armentangelo of Oak Ridge and later by Golfing the Great Lakes' Larry Adderley, Salt River Golf Club serves both bowlers and golfers. At one time they also had a racquetball facility as well. The pro shop is stocked with storied individuals, Pat Hart for openers. The course has served the area for 30 or more years. Salt River plays to 6107 yards. Locals bemoan the 4th hole and its unforgiving green. The par 3 15th hole is also a favorite.
33633 23 Mile Road, New Baltimore, 810-725-0311
Stony Creek, a Metropark located between Rochester and Romeo, covers over 4400 spectacular Michigan acres. It is one of a series of Metroparks ringing the Detroit area. Stony Creek is one of the major parks in the chain; offering nature study areas, running, biking and hiking trails, a mile and a half long lake for swimming, boating and fishing, plenty of picnic areas and yes, a great golf course.
Stony Creek is the only golf course in the Metropark chain that is privately owned. Jim Albright and Linda Kopetiz are the owners/leasees of the course. Joe Spatafore is the director of golf. Joe, formerly at Wabeek, has been at the course for 11 years.
Stony Creek, built in 1977-78, is a robust course, measuring some 6884 yards. It has a 73.1 slope rating to go with its length. There is not a lot of water on the course, therefore much of its difficulty comes from its length and 31 well-placed traps. It seems that all of the holes are set up in beautiful natural settings. The best is saved for last, as the 17th, generally regarded as their signature hole, is both beautiful and dangerous. The 18th provides a very nice finish to a wonderful round.
In our ride around the course Spatafore was quick to point out the quality of the maintenance. "We got caught a few years ago with some grass problems and have worked especially hard to improve the course. We added Howard Altman to our staff, and he and a lot of expertise from Michigan State University have done the job," Spatafore remarked. "As you can see, the course is really in great shape." He also indicated that they had redone some forward tees and were continuing to tweak the course here and there to continue to make it the best possible course in the area. "We moved 49,000 players through here last year, an amazing number considering we open on April 1 and close on November 1" said Spatafore." "With this early spring we should have a great year."
Spatafore is especially proud of their ambitious junior golf program that has proven to be so popular. "Two years ago we had 75 golfers in our program and last year we had 175. We have two great high school coaches in Rich Terry and Chet Boss," said Spatafore. "Our tournament this year will be on August 13th."
They also have a guaranteed Saturday and Sunday tee times program. They are set up to run 10 weeks. You simply get your foursome organized and then ask for a time. Last year they had 150 foursomes involved in the program.
This is definitely a course to put on your to-do list. There are 13 Metroparks in the Huron Clinton areas that are home to seven regulation and three par three courses. You will not find a better than one the one you find at Stony Creek.
5140 Main Park Way, Shelby Township, 810-781-9166 or 800-477-7756
Sunnybrook is yet another combination golf course and a bowling establishment. Al Lopez, who has been teaching there for 27 years, is welcoming new ownership this year. Randy Shank has purchased the facility and has already renovated the bowling area. He is now turning his thoughts to the golf course. He is putting in elevated teeing areas throughout the 27 holes. This 27-hole layout has served Sterling Heights quite well for all these years and is getting spiffed up for 30 more.
7191 17 Mile Road, Sterling Heights, 810-264-2700
Sycamore Hills offers the golfing public 27 holes of championship golf. The slope ranges from a high of 132 on the North/ South combination to 123 on the North/West. Golf Digest rated it as one of the Best Courses to Play in 1993.
Max Adani and Ron Stack head up the professional golf team at the 27 hole Sycamore Hills Golf Club. It has a terrific teaching station. The Hills, a relatively new course, is just a three iron from its neighbor, Hickory Hollow. Golfers therefore, can choose from 45 holes of golf in a relatively close area.
The clubhouse is very attractive and the atmosphere within is cordial. The pro shop was listed in the top 100 pro shops a number of years ago.
48787 North Avenue, Mt. Clemens, 810-598-9500
Tee J's is a nine-hole regulation and nine hole par 3 course. John Ureel, course owner, bet the farm on the facility 12 years ago. His judgement is paying nice dividends. The land that the course is on has skyrocketed since that time and he knows that his financial future is assured. However, he just likes the idea of owning a golf course. This year he has changed a few holes due to a new county drain going through. He is currently negotiating a deal that will allow him to buy enough land to make his par 3 into a regulation nine and therefore the entire project into an 18-hole course. He has a very nice clubhouse that will be expanded next year.
21111 23 Mile Road, Macomb Township, 810-598-5010
Wolverine, another one of those mega Macomb courses along with Maple Lane and Partridge Creek that can throw 45 + holes of golf at you, was purchased by Jack Lucido in 1977. Jack continued to grow Wolverine and that growth has continued with his heirs. Jack Lucido Jr., Sebastian Lucido and Francis Tomassi are all involved in the next generation of Wolverine management. They brought on the Gold course in 1987 and a practice facility that is literally one of the finest in the state. The family plans to launch a community development project in the next.
The banquet facility can seat up to 1200 people, which is a nice number to Jim Kokenys who just signed on as the new food and beverage person. Jim received his training at Florida State University.
The practice facility with its 45 teaching stations is serviced by John Hyde and Leslie Plichta. Plichta used to teach at the Garland Golf Academy. Kurt Lang, PGA professional and director of golf at Wolverine, was formerly at Warwick Hills with Nick Berlich and Great Oaks Country Club with Randy Erskine. "I have been fortunate to have trained with some top people in the field, " said Lang. " I am excited about my new position here and I feel that my prior training has prepared me well. Sycamore Hills offers the golfing public 27 holes of championship golf. The slope ranges from a high of 132 on the North/ South combination to 123 on the North/West. It was rated as one of the Best Courses to Play in 1993 by Golf Digest. It has an excellent teaching area, which keeps both Max and Ron busy.
17201 25 Mile Road, Macomb, 810-781-5544
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