Beware of the 'Coyote Trap' at Coyote Preserve Golf Club in Fenton

By Jason Scott Deegan, Senior Staff Writer

FENTON, Mich. – They call it the "Coyote Trap."

Coyote Preserve Golf Club - hole 16
Hitting the 16th green at Coyote Preserve is a chore.
Coyote Preserve Golf Club - hole 16Coyote Preserve Golf Club - hole 17Coyote Preserve Golf Club - hole 18
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Coyote Preserve Golf Club

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Coyote Preserve Golf Club in Fenton is one of the only courses in the area designed by Arnold Palmer. The course has a hilly terrain that provides plenty of elevation changes a well as stunning views.

18 Holes | Public golf course | Par: 71 | 6912 yards | Book online | ... details »

The par-5, par-3, par-5 finish at Coyote Preserve Golf Club can rip your heart out.

General Manager Nicolas Thompson said course workers came up with the nickname after the "Bear Trap" made famous during the PGA Tour's Honda Classic at PGA National in south Florida.

"No lead is safe going into those last three holes," Thompson said. "Collectively, those three finishing holes are some of the toughest I've seen."

The par-5 16th hole and monster 200-yard carry on the par-3 17th play especially tough from the blue tees, where most men play. The narrow, winding fairway at No. 16 is bordered by marsh on the right and woods on the left. A long second shot must be perfectly placed for a look at a sunken, topsy-turvy green on the far side of the marsh. Any third shot longer than 170 yards will be blind and all carry -- two of the least favorite words in the language of amateur golfers.

"I love both holes," said Walter Koch of Pinckney. "They are fun to play. A bad shot and you will suck wind. I play this course just for those two holes."

The 18th is all risk-reward with a stream crossing in front of the green. It's not uncommon to have three- and four-shot swings on that hole.

The 6,921-yard, par-71 Coyote Preserve enjoys a certain status as one of five Arnold Palmer designs in Michigan. The debate about which is best can go on for hours, but the Preserve can take pride in being in the conversation.

That wasn't the case soon after it opened in 2001 when its original developer went bankrupt, but the current owner has brought stability since 2004. Thompson said bunkers have been upgraded and conditioning improved. Its natural environment appears as wild as any golf course in metro Detroit. There are virtually no homes in sight, just thousands of trees and pools of ball-sucking wetlands. It's a slice of northern Michigan within an hour's drive of metro Detroit.

"I love it, the rollingness of it. Every hole is like a picture," Koch said.

The five par 3s are another signature of Coyote Preserve. They range from a seemingly easy gimme at the 156-yard fifth to a pair of 200-yard-plus monsters, the uphill eighth and the water-laden 17th. The uphill 173-yard 12th and the deceiving 174-yard 14th are no slouches, either.

"Having five par 3s is unique to start with," Thompson said. "Each one is nothing like the previous one."

Coyote Preserve Golf Club: The verdict

Minor complaints, a blind first tee shot on the tough opening par 5 and rare blips in conditioning, can easily be forgiven for such a great design on natural topography. During the weekday, Coyote Preserve Golf Club's green fees are easily the best value in southeast Michigan.

Jason Scott DeeganJason Scott Deegan, Senior Staff Writer

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.

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