Northville's popular Salem Hills Golf Club to close for good in October

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Salem Hills, which has long been one of Metro Detroit's most-popular golf courses for the so-called weekend warriors, has announced it will close at the end of the season.

Course owner Frank Godwin sent out a letter to customers Friday, saying "with heavy hearts," the course will close at the end of October.

Salem Hills will remain open in 2021.

"It was always our hope that we would find a buyer that would continue operating Salem as a golf course," Godwin wrote. "Since that did not happen, we feel this decision is best for our family.

"These are difficult times for many."

The property hasn't yet been sold, but there has been some recent interest, head pro Jim Grant said.

Salem Hills, a 6,992-yard, par-72 located off Six Mile Road in Northville, opened in 1963, and was designed by Michigan golf legend Bruce Matthews. It used to host a qualifier for the PGA Tour's old Buick Open.

This has been an uncharacteristically tough year for the golf industry, given the COVID-19 pandemic shut down courses for several weeks in Michigan in the early stages of the outbreak. Many courses reported financial losses of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars during the shutdown, before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's executive order allowed for golf in late April. Carts, a big money-maker for most golf courses, weren't allowed until early May. Mt. Brighton closed earlier this year, deciding to focus on skiing.

But the pandemic wasn't behind Salem Hills' decision, Grant said. It was more about aging infrastructure, like cart paths, not volume of play — which has been significant since once the state executive order was lifted.

"It was challenging this year, big-time," said Grant, noting Salem Hills didn't open its restaurant this year.  "But play has been good, I would say, for all the golf courses. It probably exceeded our expectations.

"The demand has been there."

Salem Hills' 13th hole, a 423-yard par 4, was ranked as one of the toughest 18 holes in Metro Detroit by The Detroit News in 2007. There's water in front and to the side of the green, woods on the left, and a bunker on the right. Some consider the 11th, also with water in front of the green, to be tougher.

This is the third course owned by the Godwins, Frank and Veronica. They owned what now is Walnut Creek Country Club in South Lyon from 1969-88, and Marion Oaks Golf Club in Howell from 1990-2003.

At Salem Hills, a new clubhouse was built in 2001.

"We will be forever indebted to our loyal staff," Godwin wrote Friday. "Thank you very much for your support of Salem Hills. We will remember and be thankful for you all."

Twitter: @tonypaul1984