The Grande Golf Club
The GRANDE GOLF CLUB (866-Grande 3) in Jackson, Michigan, is the newest upscale golf property to open in the area between Ann Arbor and Battle Creek. In their first year of operation, they have been able to offer wonderful conditioning with their bent grass tee boxes, fairways and greens. On the day we visited, I encountered many golfers who were playing The Grande for the first time, and all expressed positive initial impressions. Located 6 miles south of I-94 off I27, The Grande Golf Club features a practical and unpretentious clubhouse and a comprehensive golf facility. There is an ample grass driving range with target greens, a short game practice green with a large sand trap for bunker play, and two large putting greens. The golf course is characterized by a display of intricate, soft, white sand bunkering - both in the fairways and near the greens, and incredibly large undulating greens. Quite a few holes feature carries over expansive marsh land, though the fairways are generally wide with considerable room for less than perfect shots.
Most holes are tree-lined, although the fairway bunkers and marsh areas will have more of an effect on your tee shot. Our round on a Saturday afternoon took 4 ½ hours to play.
Considerable time is spent driving your cart from green to tee, as the design provides for a secluded layout that is spread out over a large piece of beautiful property. The cart path ends a considerable distance from many of the greens. We did not mind the occasional extra walk, as this method of planning will guarantee even better conditions as the course matures. It is a great feeling to step up to the first tee and find that the opening hole has no hidden demons, and is not designed to put you in a hole early. Number 1 on the South course will give you a chance to warm up and get off to a good start. It is very parable and a possible birdie.
Be ready to score well on this opener, as the next hole will demand your best. It is the #3 handicap - but we thought it should be #1. A reasonably distanced par 5 on the scorecard - but in reality one of the toughest holes I have played this year. If you play from the Blues (or further) you will have about 215 yards to carry the marsh, with little chance of cutting corners. (In retrospect, I would have played the whites on this hole). If you make the fairway, your next shot is nearly a 90 degree turn to the left, and requires you to carry the large bunker system in the middle of the fairway, while laying up short of the marsh. I hit a good tee shot, a good 5 wood on the second, and nailed the ball cleanly out of the bunker to within 80 yards of the green on my third. Three good shots - and still 80 yards short.
The entire South layout plays longer than the North (3300 from the blues, compared to about 3000 on the North nine). There are many fairway bunkers to avoid - and an even greater number of sand traps near the putting surfaces.
While challenging, The Grande layout is very fair. You may encounter bunkers long left and short right - or vice versa. There is always an option, however - and a safe avenue to approach the green. A yardage card provided complimentarily with your green fees (which also includes cart) is of great help - and is extremely accurate. There also is a very visable 150 yard pole on both sides of the fairways on all par fours and fives. You will find enough marked sprinkler heads, and there is also a pin placement diagram for each hole on the scorecard. The Grande features 8 different pin placements - and believe me, there is room for even more on these expansive greens - which are shaped quite uniquely. What's more - all tee boxes (five sets) have yardage markers to the center of the green - so you will be able to calculate the exact distance from tee to green before each tee shot. We give the Grande one of the highest grades possible for providing players with information necessary to navigate the course. This is especially appreciated when one is playing a course for the first time.
We found the North nine, though shorter in length, to be almost as challenging as the South. There are some awesome doglegs, that play to both the left and right. The scenery changes with each hole, and some elevation changes are evident.
There is even a "up north feel' on some of the middle holes. It is safe to hit driver on many of your tee shots, with the most challenge presented on the approaches. Land on the wrong part of the green, and you may find yourself considering chipping rather than putting. All the par threes on The Grande are of reasonable length. However, the bunkers and green undulations will demand that you are precise. There are so many sand traps that you are bound to reach some. Take comfort in knowing that they are filled with quality sand and are very consistent. It is almost fun to hit out of them. The aesthetic beauty they add to the course will make you appreciate that they are there.
The Grande, as some of the locals expressed - is filling a void in the area. There now is an upscale course in the Jackson area, that does not charge overly upscale prices ($50 or less). Take advantage if you are in the area! It will definitely be worth your while.
January 1, 2003