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Michigan Golf Course Review

Emerald at Maple Creek - Michigan golf course

The Emerald Golf Course is a Jerry Matthews designed championship course that is often referred to as the "Gem" of Mid-Michigan golf. The 6,654 yard layout features panoramic views along a rolling landscape that includes subtle elevation changes, five scenic ponds, giant hardwoods, manicured bent grass fairways and tees plus putting surfaces that rival those of any course in the central part of the state. On our late May visit, the small to mid size greens rolled extremely true and quick - this after a good week of rain. We were told they approach a 12 on the stimpmeter during the dry season. Combine that with the gentle contours plus greenside bunkering and mounding, and golfers will find a good but fair test.

Emerald at Maple Creek - Michigan golf course
Emerald at Maple Creek - Michigan golf course

Three sets of tees provide a nice variety of choices, with the tips playing to 6683 yards with a 128 slope. The white tees are next at 6220/126 slope - and are recommended for mid handicappers. From the forward tees ladies will find the course very playable at 5166 yards with a slope of 114. Golfers will find that the course is well marked with GAM's at the tee boxes, the Kirby system in place, along with small color coded flags on the fairways at 100/150/200/250 yards out, plus some sprinkler heads that are measured to the center of the green. Red, white and blue flags on the putting surfaces indicate front, middle and back pin placement. Keep the hole location in mind as you approach the greens, as slopes, ridges and contours can create some tricky putting situations. For $5 a yardage/diagram booklet is available - offering some excellent tips on how to best play each hole. For first timers - this highly informative guide is highly recommended. With green fees including cart topping out $55 on weekends, the booklet is an affordable amenity - and well worth it.

Emerald at Maple Creek - Michigan golf course
Emerald at Maple Creek - Michigan golf course

The clubhouse at the Emerald features a small pro shop and a significant restaurant/lounge area with outdoor patio - perfect for outing and events of varying sizes and nature. There is a spacious practice green, as well as a grass range with target areas, located directly in front of the clubhouse. An outdoor grill is conveniently located at the turn, for players wishing to pick up a burger or sandwich and a beverage. With all these facilities and a convenient location off I 27 north of St Johns, The Emerald is a great first or last stop on a golf vacation up north - and is also conveniently situated near East Lansing and Mt Pleasant.

Emerald at Maple Creek - Michigan golf course
Emerald at Maple Creek - Michigan golf course

The opening hole is a good one, a mid range four par that invited a lay up before the creek that crosses the fairway 115 yards away. A tee shot to the 125 yard marker will leave a challenging uphill approach to a green fronted by a bunker short left and mounding all around. Two is a dogleg left par four with a pond immediately to the right of the green complex. If the pin is back, this can be a challenging par. The relatively open fairway on three is choked by a water hazard along the right from 125 yards in. Played as a three shot par five, this hole can be had. On the par three 4th, a pond is situated to the right of the huge tree on that side, but there is room long and short for shots that do not make the green . A lay up to the 100 yard area is recommended off the tee on five, which presents considerable mounding and bunkering from that point in...The green is sloped left to right and drops off immediately to the right, affording golfers who miss to that side an opportunity to show off their short game. The right center of the fairway is the proper target area off the tee on six, as the route slants right to left and leads to a simple putting complex that is slightly elevated. Seven is a tough par five that bends to the right past the 250 yard marker, with the left center being the most advantageous positioning on the tee shot. If played as a three shot hole, the right center is the best place for the approach, as trees will block shots hit to the left. The green slopes left to right. A "postage stamp" par three is next, with a slope along the right that may funnel slightly offline shots towards the center of the putting surface. On nine a tee shot aimed in the direction of the tall red pole to about 150 yards away will leave an uphill 2nd shot to a green that is protected by bunkers left and back.

Emerald at Maple Creek - Michigan golf course
Emerald at Maple Creek - Michigan golf course

The back side begins with one of the most score-able holes of the round, a short par four that can be driven by big hitters. A perched green will create some difficult up and downs however - and the best way to score involves a wedge approach from an area presenting a flat lie, near the 75 yard marker.  Eleven begins from an elevated tee area and demands a short carry over the creek. This holes bends left past the tree that sits near the 100 yard marker on the right. Hit to left center and the approach is a simple one. Long is better than short on the long par three 12th, although the double tiered green will leave some tricky lag putts if the pin placement is up. One of the tightest tee shots of the round is next, as thirteen is tree lined and bends to the left past the 150 marker. The fairway is very undulating from this point in. The fairway on 14 is elevated, with considerable mounding providing uneven lies to either side, and greenside mounds creating difficult up and down situations. The left center is the place to be on the dogleg right par five 15th. This hole can only be cut by players who can drive it past the 250 yard marker. Be aware that the green slopes right to left and back to front.  The par three 16th plays from an elevated tee area to an elevated putting surface, and shots falling short leave unpleasant uphill lies for difficult up and downs.  The fairway on 17 is ample, but the approach must navigate a creek that squeezes that fairway from 90 to 60 yards in. The safest play is a lay up to the flat 100 yard, just past the steep hill and prior to the raised green, which slopes considerably from back to front. There is plenty of landing area off the tee on the par four finishing hole, but a pond fronting the right side from 20 yards in and a huge tree blocking entrances from the left make the approach about as difficult as they come on this course. Par is a nice finish here.

Emerald at Maple Creek - Michigan golf course

The Emerald is a great, upscale value course that is worth the drive from Lansing or Mt Pleasant. The folks here are eager to make your experience enjoyable - and one cannot help but appreciate the conditioning and quality of layout. Most golfers will use every club in their bag before the day is done, as they navigate a course that is fair yet at the same time challenging. We highly recommend it. For more info, visit our page for Emerald Golf Club on our web catalog, with link to their web site, by clicking here.

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