HIDDEN OAKS GOLF CLUB (989-681-3404)
Michigan Golf Course Review
Hidden Oaks Golf Club in St Louis off M-46 just 1 mile east of I-27, is a Jerry Matthews design that has earned a 4-star rating from Golf Digest Places to Play. I have never met a
Jerry Matthews design that I did not appreciate, and Hidden Oaks is no exception. Built on 265 acres of wooded, mildly rolling terrain, this 6555 yard layout features award winning
greens in an "up north" environment - even though (in Michigan slang) it is located "in the middle of the mitten". A great combination of challenge and beauty can be found in this
natural setting that features an incredible acreage of wetlands, which fosters the habitat of abundant waterfowl and wildlife. A tip - if playing in the early morning or near dusk, be
sure to apply some insect repellent - so that you can enjoy this fine golf experience without fear of being carried away by our little winged friends.
The amenities here are simple - a nice clubhouse with a small but efficient pro shop, a spacious restaurant/lounge plus an outdoor pavilion that is great for cookouts and outings
. A grass range and practice green are also on property. At $42 weekends and $36 weekdays in 2004 (including cart), this is one tremendous golfing value.
On course golfers will find color coded stakes along the fairways in the 100/150/200 yard areas, and small flags indicate front, middle and back pin placements on the infinitely
putt-able greens, which are medium in size and speed, true rolling and an absolute joy to play on. Most of these putting surfaces provide ample room for error, though slopes and
greenside bunkering can leave some tricky up and downs. Though measuring just 6555 yards, the blue tees are sloped at 129 and provide a good test for the better player. The
white tee areas are recommended for the average golfer, as they play to 6135 with a 122 slope. From 4970/121 slope the red tees will challenge ladies and beginners. Prior
course knowledge is a distinct advantage here, as it is important to familiarize yourself with the landing areas located between tree lines and natural areas that define many of the
holes, particularly on the back side.
The opening hole is a long par four with water in play on the left near the 185 yard area, and trees squeezing the fairway on the right. The left center is the advantageous location
from which to approach the green. Another water hazard rests between the 220 and 150 area on the right on number two, which plays uphill to a huge putting complex that drops
off immediately in back. Three is a long par 3 that also plays uphill, and is followed by the course's # 1 handicap. This par four begins with a blind tee shot with the preferred
landing area being in the right center of the fairway at either the 200 or inside the 160 yard area. Anything in between will find the downhill slope leaving a most disadvantageous
lie that plays to a green flanked by traps on either side. The rolling, undulating fairway slopes left to right on five, as does the elevated putting surface. Six doglegs left and invites
golfers to grip it and rip it down the left center off the tee. There is a creek far left and a pond on the right that comes into play from about 135 yards in. The par four 7th bends in the
opposite direction to a tight, tree lined fairway. The drive must breach the 150 yard area and land left of center for a opportunity to reach in regulation. The score-able par three 8th
precedes a short par five that plays along a rolling fairway with water in play to the left off the tee. The raised green fronts the clubhouse and like many of the putting complexes at
Hidden Oaks, is protected by bunkers situated short on both sides.
The back side is a bit tighter, particularly in the mid section of holes that feature a smattering of natural areas. Ten is a par three that plays long from the back tees (237 yards) and
looks more intimidating that it actually is. There is abundant room greenside, including about 20 yards in front. Eleven presents a wide landing area off the tee, with left center of
the fairway being the best location. The approach must carry a marsh, with ten yards of grass in front but lots of room to both sides of the green. The pond that comes into play
about 120 in on 12 juts in towards the fairway and also rests immediately to the left of the green, making for a demanding approach. Three separate wetland areas must be
navigated on the par 4 thirteenth, with the last one situated about 110 yards from the green. The perfect landing area is right of center about 120 yards away. Another marsh sits in
front of the tee on 14, and trees block entrances from the left side of the fairway. The approach here is perhaps the toughest of the round. Fifteen doglegs right but trees on that
side make a cut difficult. The left portion of the fairway from 120 to 100 away is a good spot to be in. Both the tee shot and the approach demand a carry over wetlands. There is
room off the tee on 16, which is score-able when played as a 3-shot par five. The second shot must be right of center, as the tree line will block approaches from the left side.
Bunkers short right are the only obstacle to par or better on the mid range par three 17th. On the beautiful par five closing hole golfers will encounter an open but rolling fairway,
which bends to the left past the 150 yard marker. From the right center near the fairway bunker the approach is quite clear, taking the small natural area short left of the green out
of play. With the green tucked in on the left, this is a true 3-shot hole.
As I indicated previously, Hidden Oaks is a gem of a course that is a great value in the $40 range... What's more, walking is allowed at any time. Previous course knowledge will
go a long well to saving some strokes, as shot placement is more vital than distance on many holes. Land on the wrong side of the fairway on some of these tricky doglegs, and
you will chipping out to an open area for a clear shot at the green. For more info on Hidden Oaks, visit our page on our Michigan web catalog of golf courses - with link to the
property's web site...click here.