July 22, 2010 at 11:37 am

Review

Cattails is a thinking man's course

Aaron Golm of Northville tees off the first hole at Cattails Golf Club in South Lyon. The 441-yard par 5 could start your round off with an easy birdie. (David Coates/The Detroit News)

South Lyon -- It's easy to see where Cattails Golf Club derives its name.

The course is littered with wetlands and its signature cattails that make surviving a round with the ball you started with nearly impossible.

The wetlands come into play nearly every hole. Despite being on the short side (6,436 yards from the back tees), the wetlands, eight water hazards and 24 sand traps are enough trouble to guard against the length.

The front nine plays more around marshland and features a creek that cuts across a number of holes. The back nine cuts through a forest with fewer wetlands, but includes more doglegs and thinking-man holes.

"It's a course where you have to use every club in your bag," said Dave Sias, general manager and head pro. "It's not extremely long but there are doglegs, wetlands, short holes, long holes; really, a little of everything."

A premium is placed on accuracy off the tee and on approaches to the large, rolling greens.

There's more undulation on the greens than first glance, and being on the proper level or below the hole is a must to putt well.

The greens are in good shape, except for No. 12. The green on the par 4 361-yarder is tucked back into the woods and doesn't get a lot of light. Because of that, the green is excruciatingly slow and showed few signs of winterkill.

Players have to play smart at Cattails and sometimes tame the wilder side of wanting to hit driver. A 225-yard tee shot is all that's needed on four holes to either land short of the hazard or in prime position at a dogleg:

  • No. 5 is 391 yards, but a creek crosses the fairway at about 240 yards. You'll either have to layup or carry 260-270 yards.

  • No. 14 is a 335-yard, dogleg left par 4 that requires a tee shot in the range of 200-240 yards to make the sharp turn. You need to, however, prevent the ball from going through the fairway and into the trees.

  • No. 15 is 308 yards and drivable. But the severe dogleg left hole is guarded by a pond at the corner, and only the long hitters have a legitimate chance at going for the green. Again, a 225-yard shot to the corner leaves a little three-quarter wedge into a back-to-front sloping green.

  • No. 16 takes a 90-degree turn on the approach and takes a tee shot of 200-225 yards to get to the 150-yard marker on the 345-yard par 4.

    Cattails offers a little something for everyone and isn't difficult for players who drive the ball well. Both nines start with a short par 5 (441 and 461 yards) and can get a round off to a good start.

    The overall experience of having to play smart in order to navigate the wetlands and the greens makes Cattails a fun place to play.

    Overall rating -- 3 tees

    (Rating on a scale of one to four tees)

    The course is in great shape and the grounds crew does a great job of managing the marsh and cattails. The layout is challenging yet fair, and the price is great. It's a must-play.

    Course design -- 3 tees

    John R. Williams designed the course on a former 160-acre horse farm. The front nine plays through and around creeks and wetlands. The back nine plays in the forest with a few wetland areas.

    Course conditions -- 3 tees

    It's a credit to the grounds crew that with as much wetlands and cattails the course contains, it isn't overgrown. It's thick enough to swallow balls, but short enough not to limit sightlines. The fairways and greens (except for No. 12) are in good shape.

    Playability -- 3 tees

    This is one of those courses where management is at a premium -- it's all about avoiding the wetlands. Play smart and you can play well. Four sets of tees play from 6,436 yards to 4,974 yards.

    Customer service -- 3 tees

    Everyone was friendly, and the service at the grill/bar was great. The food was good and we never had to wait.

    Clubhouse -- 2 tees

    The rustic, 5,000 square-foot clubhouse seats 175 people, and the outdoor patio overlooks the ninth green. The bathroom needs updating.

    Pace of play -- 3 tees

    Other than the inevitability of taking time to look for lost balls, the course plays fairly fast. Cattails is well marked and every cart has the UpLink GPS yardage system that accurately measures yardages to the pin from anywhere.

    Value -- 3 tees

    Reasonable rates -- $30 Monday-Tuesday, $35 Wednesday-Friday, $45 on weekends. Seniors play for $25 all week.

    Practice facilities -- 2 tees

    Standard run-of-the-mill driving range with four targets to shoot at. Smaller putting green can get a bit crowded with bigger groups. There's also a small chipping green.

    Cattails Golf Club

    57737 West 9 Mile Rd, South Lyon 48178

    Phone: (248) 486-8777

    Yardage: 6,436 yards from back tees

    Par: 72

    Fees: $30 with cart Mon. & Tues.; $35 Wed.-Fri; $45 weekend; $25 seniors during week

    Website: cattailsgolfclub.com

    ttwentyman@detnews.com">ttwentyman@detnews.com

    Editor's note: The Detroit News will review a public golf course every Thursday.

  • See Also