The par-5 16th is one of the toughest holes at Pheasant Run, requiring multiple precise shots to score well. (David Coates/The Detroit News)
Canton -- The hardest aspect of golf course design is coming up with a layout that's fair, yet challenging, while offering diversity among holes that force players to use every club in the bag.
Most designs try to accomplish this golf-design trio -- not many succeed.
But famed golf architect Arthur Hills hit a home run in just about every aspect at the Pheasant Run Golf Course in Canton.
The 27-hole layout covers more than 300 acres of rolling terrain with part of the course playing through an upscale neighborhood. Pheasant Run offers a little something for everyone in the form of short holes, long holes, holes with forced carries, holes with devilish approach shots and holes where players simply can't make mistakes.
"I love the variety. There are three different courses you get to play every day if you want to," said Mark Doughty, the Pheasant Run assistant golf professional. "There are definitely hazards in all of your landing areas and you always have to look out for trees on tee shots. The bunkers are conveniently placed, but you'll also find that nothing is hidden. It's not like all of the sudden you get up there and there was a hidden pond you didn't know about. Everything is upfront."
That's not entirely true, though. There are a few surprises out there, especially if you're a bit wayward on the holes that meander through the subdivision.
The houses are set back far enough away from the course on most holes. But there are few holes -- like the 376-yard par 4 sixth hole on the North Course -- where the houses and the out-of-bound stakes that mark the backyards of these houses come too close into play, in my opinion. It's hard to tell there is so little margin for error standing on the tee.
The course added nine holes (The South Course) in 2002 that play through marsh lands and ponds. The South Course has probably the best two-hole combination on the course in the 377-yard par-4 15th hole and the 503-yard par-5 16th.
Hazards come into play on both sides of the 15th and there's a large oak tree on the right side of the fairway making par a good score.
There's a water hazard along the left side of the fairway on No. 16, and the second shot has to travel far enough to get past another oak tree in the center of the fairway and short of a water hazard in front of the green.
The West Course, the longest of the three, plays to 3,355 yards from the black tees (second farthest back) and the South is 3,260 and the North 3,185. Players can mix and match nine-hole combinations to get a more challenging test of golf or a confidence-building experience.
The name of the game is variety at Pheasant Run, making it one of the best around.
Pheasant Run Golf Club
46500 Summit Parkway, Canton, Mich., 48188
Phone: (734) 397-6460
Yardage: 3,610 yards (West nine), 3,515 (South), 3,443 (north) from back tees; there are five sets of tees
Par: 36 for each nine
Fees: $45 with cart weekdays, $55 weekends
rating -- 3 1/2 tees
(Rating on a scale of one to four tees)
The course is inviting to a beginner, but challenging enough to satisfy a scratch golfer.
Course design -- 3 tees
The 27-hole Arthur Hills design has a little something for everyone.
Course conditions -- 3 1/2 tees
The course is immaculate and the greens provide a smooth, fast roll.
Playability -- 3 1/2 tees
Generous fairways abound the course, but 80 sand traps, 23 water hazards and a few forced carries make golfers have to earn their scores. Yardage markers on both sides of fairways, on cart path at 225, 200, 175, 150, 125, 100 and on all sprinkler heads.
Customer service -- 3 tees
Everyone was friendly, but getting a drink and a sandwich at the turn seemed to take a while.
Clubhouse -- 2 tees
The clubhouse is on the small side and doesn't offer a lot of seating. The food is OK, nothing spectacular.
Pace of play -- four tees
Played with a group of 32 golfers and didn't wait once. The fact that there's 27 holes helps, plus rangers are all over the place (passed a ranger six times in round).
Value -- 3 tees
$45 during the weekday and $55 during weekend gets you unlimited play. The only stipulation is you can't make a second tee time, the course gets you off when they can past 18 holes.
Practice facilities -- 3 1/2 tees
The range has five target greens and yardage plates to give exact distances. Also has a 10,000-square-foot chipping and putting green with a practice bunker.
Editor's note:The Detroit News will review a public golf course every Thursday.