The Michigan golf season is heading into its home stretch for 2013. If you haven’t gotten out to play yet this season do yourselves a favor and take advantage of what is arguably the region’s best time to play: August through October. As the temperatures cool more players are playing less often which keeps courses in better condition and encourages courses to lower prices and gain play. Also, the bane of all twilight golfers, the summer golf league, ends in August. So it’s easier to get out for nine or 18 after work and get around the course in a reasonable amount of time. Check with some of your local courses to find out when the leagues end and get out to play after work.
The best reason to play in the fall is undoubtedly our changing colors. Unless you head north to play, color change won’t be seen in West Michigan until late September. When it does arrive, though, many of the tree-lined, undulating courses in Michigan will turn into some gorgeous landscapes. If you combine a twilight rate with a course where you can play at your own chosen pace, and then mix in a sunset that lights a kaleidoscope of fall colors…you’ve had a good night. Fall golf in Michigan is some of the best you’ll find at any time, in any other place.
“I’m obsessed with two things – well, actually three, but I don’t need to talk about fashion here. Golf and the girl that works with me at my course are equally flummoxing and unattainable to me. Golf is a bitch and Allison is anything but. Any advice?”–Daniel W., Ada, Mich.
First of all, don’t use the word “flummoxing” in front of her, and don’t share fashion tips; I don’t know Allison but that kind of talk won’t do you any good. Lines like “golf is a bitch and you are anything but” are a good start. Get her smiling, DW. Not sure what barriers you think exist between you two but joking around and lightening the mood are usually a good idea. If she works with you then she is forced to be near you! Use that brutha! Talk to her, make jokes, slowly get to know her. As for golf: just chill. Lower your expectations and lower your intensity. Do your damndest to enjoy it. You know what? Do that with golf and Allie.
“My husband and I are members at a public course in Grand Rapids. We often play as a twosome although we’re also fine with being paired (after all, we understand a busy golf course needs to pair groups together to maintain pace of play and ensure they have open tee times for foursomes). We regularly come to the turn to find a group that has been eating for a half hour to an hour and jump in front of us to begin the back nine. Why do courses let this happen? Why do golfers believe they can continue playing whenever they’re done with their long lunch?”–Marianne M., Cascade, Mich.
The short answer is that courses indeed should not allow that. It can be difficult for management to keep a close eye on this unless it is at a country club. Public courses have retired starters and rangers who are predominately employed because they want to play golf and perhaps get out of the house for a shift of two. In addition to getting tee times off at their allotted times, starters replenish water on the course, clean the range, monitor pace of play and speak with all customers to ensure they’re having a nice time. Sometimes a group that is taking their time having lunch is lost in the mix. In an ideal world, these groups would wait until an opening presented itself, and then continue with their back nine. However, not all people or attitudes are “ideal.” My suggestion is to speak with your starter or ranger and explain the situation. If nothing else, if a group is holding you up and shouldn’t have cut you off, a ranger will ask then to let you play through. Flirting with the ranger never hurt anybody either. Our rangers fall all over themselves at the very sight of a female at the course; it’s almost as attractive to them as spending an hour searching for lost golf balls while we pay them.
“What are three or four courses where a beginner or an advanced player should play in West Michigan?”–Aric G., Grand Rapids, Mich.
If I had to choose three courses a beginner golfer needed to visit I’d have to pick LE Kaufman for its reasonable rates and excellent practice facility; Indian Trails for its now renovated clubhouse and shorter yardages; and Maple Hill simply because you’ll have to go there for the best prices on equipment in West Michigan anyway, so you may as well play nine holes or use another one of the best practice facilities around. As for advanced players, I’ll list my top three public and private courses, but my reasoning would be best conveyed over a drink or some lunch at the club; The conversation is just too long and a choice of club is too important and personal to be generalized here, especially if you’re looking to become a member. Call me at the course (616.676.2000) anytime and I’ll be happy to speak with you about it.
3) Quail Ridge/Thornapple Pointe
2) LE Kaufman
1) Pilgrims Run
3) Egypt Valley (2 tournament back nines)
2) Kent CC
1) Blythfield CC
Enjoy the last month of summer hacking and we’ll talk again in September. Again, send any and all questions, jokes, comments, corrections or opinions (example: your list of best courses and why) to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet me at @realalanvelting.