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Michigan Golf Course Review

Marsh Oaks at Oak Ridge Golf Club

Familiarity sometimes breeds boredom. In golf however, this is not often the case. Most of us have a "home" course - one that is conveniently located, reasonably priced. We know the best times to play and when a deal can be had. We can envision the layout of each hole, the slope of every green, the hazards to avoid, and even venture to the tips occasionally to find our what championship golf is really like. With such knowledge we can plan our game, and imagine low scores. When we turn friends on to our home course, we expect to do well - to shoot at or below our handicap. Nothing less will do. We play alone sometimes - practicing, studying the course. It gives us a feeling of confidence to play there, though this confidence is sometimes misplaced for as Bagger Vance said "golf is not a game to be won, but a game to be played". Still - this is our home course. We treat it as such. When players in front of us do not repair ball marks or drive too close to the greens, we take it personally and feel compelled to bring it to their attention. We do more than our share to enforce etiquette and spend time on the greens repairing the damage caused by "clueless" golfers. Golf course care and etiquette should be practiced by all players, on every course - but we make it a point naturally, to take care of our own.

Oak Ridge Golf Club - Marsh Oaks
Oak Ridge Golf Club - Marsh Oaks

For me, that course is MARSH OAKS  at the Oakridge Golf Club in New Haven ( 810-749-5151). I began playing there often when my son worked there a few summers ago. As the dad of one of their most reliable employees, I was offered a considerable "father" discount. Like any dad, I want to see my son succeed, have a great education and career - but then again...I would not have minded if he had kept that position for a few seasons.

Oak Ridge Golf Club - Marsh Oaks
Oak Ridge Golf Club - Marsh Oaks

The Oakridge facility is a good one. Besides the two championship courses, there also is a grass driving range, two putting greens and a couple sand bunkers for short game practice. The food at the restaurant and lounge is good, and there always seems to be folks hanging out in the bar watching sporting events. There is a small pro shop, and a huge banquet and outing facility. The golf courses are distinctive, with the Old Oaks course being the traditionally designed, enjoyable, moderately priced layout. Marsh Oaks is of the upscale variety. The first thing you notice is that the Marsh Oaks carts have covers on the back - for inclement weather. This is a great feature - and one I would like to see more often. On a wet day, you can keep your clubs (and bag) completely dry. The underlying characteristic of the golf course is the substantial variety of holes on this layout. There is a nice mix of tight and open holes, with marsh and water hazards coming into play on many. The first six holes demand accuracy. After a short. tight opening hole you will approach the 2nd green from a fairly open fairway over one of the property's 13 ponds. The par 5 third plays long, and the reward for trying to reach the green in two is not worth the risk. There is little room for error around the green, so the best move is a driver/fairway wood off the tee followed by a mid iron to the end of the fairway. Your approach will be over a narrow marsh. The fourth is a rather simple par three, and is followed by one of the toughest 12th handicapped holes in the metro area. An accurate fairway wood to the left side is necessary for you to have a good shot at the flag. A considerable marsh will take donations if you are at all short. The sixth is a pretty par 3 and all carry over another marsh. The narrow, undulating green is perhaps the most challenging on the course. Seven through nine begin to open up a bit, and give you a chance to regain your composure and to bring your score down. There is some room for error to the right on all three of these holes, and long off the tee is good.

Oak Ridge Golf Club - Marsh Oaks
Oak Ridge Golf Club - Marsh Oaks

The tenth is tricky. The water hazard to the left comes into play much quicker than is apparent. Many beautiful looking drives, seemingly to the middle of the fairway, have carried to the pond, which intrudes menacingly close to the cart path to the middle left. Best to be long right (if you can avoid the bunkers), as the approach also demands accuracy, to a slightly uphill green guarded by water left and back, and mounding and bunkers to the right. Eleven features an elevated green that demands an extra club, and is followed by a very reachable par 5. I have had more birdies (and a couple eagles) on this hole than any other hole in the state. Now we get into the water holes. Thirteen and fourteen demand accurate lay-ups off the tee, followed by approaches over ponds to the putting surfaces that are sloped from back to front. Anything right will reach the water and there is also trouble left off the tee on both holes. The 15th is par three to an elevated green with severe undulations. Use an extra club or two here. The next hole is the number 1 handicap, based on the length and hazards on both sides of the fairway on this long par four. Seventeen is also handicapped quite high, though with course knowledge you have a great chance at par. A pond that is only partially visible comes into play very quickly to the left - but there is ample room off the tee to the right. Your second shot must stay to the left, as anything middle right will slide into the water. The fairway narrows and is quite deceiving to first time visitors. Your third shot will be to the largest green on the course - and one that is a joy to putt on. The finishing hole also plays easier with course knowledge. It is a dogleg left that really cannot be cut off. Hit it towards the bunkers on the right side for the clearest approach. With a good tee shot, this is an easy hole. If you are a bit errant, you will struggle for bogey. This is true with many holes on Marsh Oaks. While there is ample opportunity to let it rip, many holes demand accuracy over distance. On an average day, I will use every club in my bag . Located close to Detroit (a couple hundred yards off I-94 at the 26 Mile Road exit), the Oakridge complex and Marsh Oaks gives us the opportunity for an upscale yet unpretentious golfing experience. The course is well marked, with 100/150/200 markers on the fairways and on the cart paths - another appreciated feature. Pin placement sheets are provided on each cart - and are quite accurate. Definitely user-friendly!

Oak Ridge Golf Club - Marsh Oaks
Oak Ridge Golf Club - Marsh Oaks

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Oak Ridge Golf Club - Marsh Oaks

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