June 10, 2010 at 1:00 am

Review

Starter, bunkers sour day at Michigan Meadows Golf Club

The 16th green at Michigan Meadows is the course's signature, as it's in carved in the shape of Michigan. (David Coates/The Detroit News)

Casco -- Making a good first impression is one of the keys to a golf course establishing a steady clientele. Having a great product doesn't hurt, either.

I arrived at Michigan Meadows Golf Club at 10:15 earlier this week for a 10:30 tee time. I'd never played the course before and my first contact with anyone from the course was by an angry starter who was wandering the parking lot looking for the 10:30 tee time. Upon learning I was the 10:30, he told me I needed to hurry up and be on a cart and at the No. 1 tee box by 10:30 to get in front of an outing. I assured him I would be ready and on the tee at least five minutes before my tee time, as I usually am.

The guy made me feel like I was 10 minutes late instead of 15 minutes early -- good first impression.

The course itself, though short (5,954 yards from the back), packs a few punches in the form of tree-lined fairways and well-placed ponds and creeks that come into play on 14 holes.

The design is a bit quirky, like the 284-yard par-4 third hole that requires just a 170-yard tee shot to make the center of the dogleg, but it's sometimes fun to play a design that isn't your typical straight-forward blueprint.

What isn't fun, though, is navigating crabgrass in the fairway bunkers or landing in green-side bunkers that look like they haven't been raked in weeks. I get the name is Michigan Meadows, but the bunkers shouldn't play like you're in a meadow.

A complete overhaul -- or a really good raking -- are in order for these bunkers. I know rakes go for around $15 at most local hardware stores; weed whackers are a bit more expensive.

The atrociousness of the bunkers aside, most everything else on the course was in good shape, especially the greens.

For a fairly open layout, I was surprised by how difficult a couple of the par 5s were -- especially the 534-yard seventh.

No. 7 requires a straight drive down a tree-lined fairway. The second shot has to be long enough to reach the corner of the dogleg-left hole, but accurate enough to stay short of a small pond strategically placed about 50 yards in front of the green. It's a tough hole and the No. 1 handicap.

The slope rating from the blue tees is 128, which is a good indication that golfers still have to make shots around this short course if they are to score well.

The 322-yard par-4 16th green is shaped like the state of Michigan with sand surrounding the entire green surface. A bit quirky, but a fun design.

Unfortunately, gimmicky greens, a low price ($25) and a few tough holes aren't enough to make me want to play it again.

Overall rating -- 2 tees

(Rating on a scale of one to four tees)

The course is short, but the designer used water and bunkers to guard against the length. The course could be a lot more visually aesthetic with simple upkeep.

Course design -- 2 1/2 tees

Numerous doglegs challenge golfers to hit correct spots off the tee and help guard against its length. Water comes into play on 14 holes.

Course conditions -- 1 1/2 tees

The course should be better maintained from the grassy bunkers to the pothole-riddled cart path. Greens were in good shape, though.

Playability -- 3 tees

Trouble in the form of water and woods comes into play if you're wild off the tees. Lack of length and large greens make low scores possible.

Customer

service -- 2 tees

Didn't appreciate being rushed to the tee, but overall everyone was nice.

Clubhouse -- 2 1/2 tees

The clubhouse includes a pro shop, restaurant/lounge and banquet/outing facilities.

Pace of play -- 3 tees

The course gets a fair amount of play, and despite being wedged between two outings, the pace was good.

Value -- 3 tees

Course is charging $25 on both weekdays and weekends. It's not one of the most pristine courses, but if you know what you're getting (run-of-the-mill public course), it's not a bad price, especially on weekends.

Practice facilities -- 1 tee

There's a small practice green on the property, but no driving range.

Michigan Meadows Golf Club

4575 County Line Rd., Casco, MI 48064

Phone: (586) 727-7029

Yardage: 5,954 yards from back tees; there are four sets of tees

Par: 72 Fees: $25 with cart weekdays; $25 weekends

Editor's note

 The Detroit News will review a public golf course every Thursday.

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