As part of our temporary relocation to Ann Arbor, we will be doing investigative research on golf courses in the area. Not because we want to, but because our readers need to know. Over the next week, we’ll visit Radrick Farms Golf Club, the Blue Course at University of Michigan and get a wee taste of Scotland in Mid-Michigan at the famed Eagle Glen, site of the annual Littlefield Darby. And, you know, just for kicks we may throw in a couple others if we have time (and if the Grandparent Day Care opens).
Today, let’s dive into Radrick Farms Golf Club. One of two courses owned by the University of Michigan, Radrick Farms operates as a private club for University faculty, staff, and alumni. Fortunately, they heard the Hangover was in town and extended an invitation, knowing that the tens of people who read this could really elevate their profile. First stop, Work Hangover. Next stop, Golf Digest Top 100 Courses in the World list.
The course was designed by Pete Dye and built on land donated to the university, with strict instructions to preserve the natural landscape. Dye won the bid early in his career and rumor has it, he’s said it’s the best course he ever designed. And yes, we just made up that rumor. It’s possible it’s not the best course he ever designed, but it was one of the first. That’s gotta count for something, right?
Either way, let’s see how the round played out.
#1 – Opted to play from the Blue tees instead of the Maize tees. And yes, we only included that to annoy all the non-Michigan fans on the blog who find the use of the term Maize instead of its more common name – Yellow – completely insufferable. Which, ironically, is also how many of those people would describe Michigan fans. Regardless, the par 5 to start your day is a welcome sight until you airmail the green on your approach, blade the chip back down the hill and two-putt for your bogey.
#2 – One of the reasons Radrick can play so tough is the intimidating tee shots. On several holes, it just appears that there is nowhere to actually land the ball, and the tee shot on 2 is one of those. Pete Dye likes to mess with your head, but it didn’t work this time. Fairway, green, two putts.
#3 – A long par 4, with a dog leg left, this is a brute of a hole. This will be a common theme throughout the day, along with pin locations tucked in impossible to reach places. We hit a good drive, but our approach is in the bunker. Salvaged bogey and ran to the next tee.
#4 – A short par three, slightly uphill, plays as one of the easiest holes on the course. When we made contact with the ball, we already started thinking about how big our bar tab would be after making a hole in one. Naturally, the ball was 15-feet short.
#5 – A par 5 that actually doesn’t appear too tricky from the tee box, but for some reason the trees on the right side of the landing area have magnets in them that pull every tee shot to them. When a par 5 is rated the toughest hole on the course, you know it’s hard. Shows effective our “eye test” is when rating golf holes.
#6 – Dogleg par 4 that messes with your mind on the tee box. If you, you know, hit it in the middle of the fairway that you can see, it feels like you’ll still be 250 yards from the green. That tempts you to try to cut the corner. Only problem is you can’t cut the corner. And by you, we mean we. But don’t worry, we’re just going to tuck this pin on the side of a hill, behind a bunker on the edge of the green for you, just because we can. We had to convert one the best two putts of our lives just to save bogey.
#7 – A long par 3, and from the tee, it appears they did us a favor by putting the pin up front. Except if you land the ball short of the pin, it rolls back off the front and if you go long, you have a downhill putt that will roll off the front of the green. Fortunately, we avoided both by hitting into a bunker.
#8 – Shorter par 4 with a landing area that appears to not exist from the tee box. Of the four people in our group, we hit four different clubs and only one person found the fairway. Hint: not us. Fortunately, you’re hitting to an elevated, multi-tier green surrounded by bunkers.
#9 – We reached the 9th tee feeling surprisingly good about our front nine. Despite having not played the course in over 3 years, we were scratching together a pretty decent score. 9 is a short par four which requires something less than driver off the tee through a small window with trees overhanging, and then a wedge into the green. We hit a beautifully struck 3-wood which drilled the tiniest branch in the history of trees and dropped the ball straight down about 100 yards away from the tee box. So, what the heck, let’s hit the 3-wood again. Into a pot bunker for a nice 30-yard bunker shot that travels 15 yards and is in another bunker. Sand wedge on to the green, two putt and all of a sudden, we don’t feel so great about our front nine.
#10 – Time to regroup. Par 4 which runs parallel to #1, so it feels familiar except you’re supposed to do it in one less shot. We’re telling you this because we were not aware and enjoyed a nice bogey that we thought was a par. Always feels good.
#11 – A long par 3. We hate this hole. Our tee shot finds a bunker short and left of the green. Catch the bunker shot a little thin, but it somehow manages to drill the flag stick and come to a rest about 6 feet from the hole. Drain the par putt. We LOVE this hole. (Ed. Note – had the ball not hit the flag stick, someone might have died)
#12 – A par 5 where, again, there is not an actual fairway visible from the tee. And apparently, if you hit a monster slice that is not where the fairway is located either. After punching out from a behind a tree, we hit a three wood into a bunker which was described to us as “the one place you don’t want to go.” Salvaged a bogey thanks to some solid short game work after that point.
#13 – Another intimidating tee shot, unless you can hit a ball that travels 200 yards in the air straight, and then takes a left turn and goes another 50 yards. Which, you might be surprised to learn that we cannot do. What we can do is yank our drive left into the woods, punch out sideways, hit an approach into the green and two-putt for one of the best bogeys of the day. And there were plenty to choose from.
#14 – With 5 holes to go, if we scratch out two pars and three bogeys, we will hit our target score for the round. And 14 is the second hardest hole on the course, and features, shockingly, and intimidating tee shot followed by a long approach into a tricky green. Somehow, we scratch out a par. That’s gaining one on the field.
#15 – A par three from an elevated tee box to a green 50 yards below. And we made up that number, we really have no idea, but it’s definitely a big drop off. None of that compares to the sign beside the tee box warning you of rattlesnakes. Listen, Pete. If you want to set up this course to mess with our heads, that’s your choice and it is completely fair. But you really didn’t need to put up a sign about rattlesnakes, right? That’s going a little too far. We all know there aren’t really rattlesnakes, but now all we can think of is being killed by a rattlesnake during a casual Sunday stroll. Missed the green short, but chipped up and made a nice 12-footer for par. We are in business, with the easiest hole on the course coming up next.
#16 – Double bogey. $#@+!
#17 – Gotta regroup and scrape out a par on one of the last two holes. One shot at a time. And our first shot is good drive down the center of the fairway. Unfortunately, we somehow still had 200 yards into the green. And we didn’t get it there, but chipped up to about 5 feet for par. And missed.
#18 – So we head to the finishing hole needing a par to finish with our target score of 85 (we aren’t winning any Championship trophies around here. Unless, of course, you count winning the 4th flight (of 4) of the Black Creek member-member.). Back to Radrick, and this tee shot has a fairway that’s about 3 and a half yards wide. Fortunately, we avoid the fairway and our tee shot ends up nestled next to one of the beautiful trees that Pete Dye did such a wonderful job of preserving when he built the course. We thought about attempting a Sergio, with a monster slice, closing our eyes in fear we would break our wrists and then bounding up the fairway like a Spanish leprechaun after hitting the greatest shot of our lives. Ultimately, we just punched out and tried to take our chances of getting up and down from 125 yards out. Well, we should have just tried the Sergio because it couldn’t have gone much worse. After missing the green, we duff one chip and then hit another decent chip that leaves us an 8-foot downhill putt will at least a foot of break to salvage double bogey. Not exactly how we drew it up. Managed to make the putt but tough way to finish.
Overall, Radrick Farms is a terrific course that challenges every shot in the bag. It’s a fun, relatively leisurely walk, unless, of course, you’re spending much of the walk in the woods. One of the biggest challenges is just finding the fairways. Not with a golf shot, but with your actual eyes. We still haven’t seen the fairway on 12 and frankly, we’re fairly sure it doesn’t exist.
Final Rating: 5 beers out of a six-pack. Which might also correlate to what we consumed following the round.