My childhood golf course, Leslie Park in Ann Arbor, just named 'best muni in Michigan'
Not every city can have a municipal gem worthy of professional tournaments like Harding Park in San Francisco or Chambers Bay in Seattle-Tacoma, two munis I just played on a Pacific Northwest trip I’m still unpacking from.
I was just talking with a buddy of mine who is back home in Ann Arbor, Michigan and he said he went out and played our old stomping grounds, city-owned Leslie Park Golf Course, and was plesantly surprised at how good of shape it’s in.
It was a bit shocking to me, because I’d heard a few years ago that in the midst of budget cuts, Leslie was withering on the vine a bit, and I’d even heard some rumors about the course possibly shutting down. Not anymore it seems. In a state that’s been known for budget cuts in the last few years, the city has poured maintenance cash into Leslie Park to the tune of about $900,000, so conditions are presently superb.
In fact, Golf Digest even just named it Michigan’s best municipal for 2009, giving it a 4.5-star rating (Click here for the state-by-state list). I’d agree with the “Best muni” part, because when the layout is in good shape, it’s got great hole variety and is pretty tough, too. But I have a hard time believing a course with no driving range and tiny clubhouse is worthy of 4.5 stars.
Leslie Park even reduced it’s green fees in the last few years to $25 weekday walking thru $42 riding weekend.
Leslie was our high school course, and I’ve always considered it one of the better public access courses in Washtenaw County. A lot of the high schools we’d play had private home clubs like Tecumseh C.C., Adrian C.C. and our rival school, Pioneer, got to play the Alister Mackenzie-designed University of Michigan G.C.
Leslie is a great home course to have matches on, because there are some holes, like No. 4, 5, 9, 11 and 15 that will benefit the frequent player here. There were a few greens there that were always quicker than others, and opponents would blow their putts by every time.
So if you’re going to be in Ann Arbor this fall for University Michigan football, I’d recommend skipping the insufferable new Rich Rod spread offense, and instead go to the golf course for four hours, like Leslie Park or county-owned Pierce Lake just west of Ann Arbor.
And if you’re in Ann Arbor and don’t get a sandwich and Zingerman’s Deli in Kerrytown or a pizza sub at Pizza House on campus, you really haven’t dined Ann Arbor-style.
Photo courtesy of the City of Ann Arbor
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There are many excellent municipal courses in the State and this fact makes this honor even more significant and meaningful to us. We may not have the best clubhouse and we may not even have a driving range, but when you get back to the honor at hand, we were ranked the Best Municipal Golf Course in the State of Michigan, not Best Clubhouse or Best Driving Range (they have other awards for those). And when it comes to having the Best Golf Course, it can all be boiled down to one thing: CUSTOMER SERVICE.
Customer Service in regards course conditioning - we present a well manicured course with the customer in mind when it comes to green speed, playability and aesthetics.
Customer Service when it comes to course layout - We have a very playable course that is "customer friendly" with no 200 yard carries over a marsh or blind shots to blind greens. It is open enough to give the golfer a chance, but has a bite if you go astray too far.
Lastly "Customer Service" when it comes to the golfers experience here. Our staff recognizes that it is the way we treat the golfer, the way we help them enjoy their “escape into nature” that will bring them back time and again. Our golfers, as well as our residents are our top priority. The Golf Digest award is a HUGE achievement, but the true reward comes from the pride and happiness of the residents of Ann Arbor who are proud of their hometown course and all the SE Michigan golfers who call Leslie Park their home course.