Lyon Oaks is the best muni
Editor’s Note: This is the fourth entry on Free Press’s Top 10 Public Golf Courses in Metro Detroit for 2022. Check back every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the latest courses in our countdown .
Oaks golf course in Lyon is owned and operated by Oakland County, making it the only municipal course on Free Press’s list of the Top 10 Public Golf Courses in Metro Detroit for 2022.
The words “muni golf” usually connote cheap play on an unchallenged course with poor conditions that appeal to locals due to the location and low residency rates.
But nothing could be further from the truth at Lyon Oaks, the crown jewel of the county’s five public courses and Metro Detroit’s finest. The course itself and the facilities that support it – the practice area and the large clubhouse and banquet center that can accommodate 450 people – are top of the line.
This is one of the main reasons why Lyon Oaks lands 7th place in our ranking.
The star of the show will always be Arthur’s Hills‘ design that spans 230 acres of hardwood forests and wetlands. The course website suggests it has an Up North feel, but other than the park-like isolation you get during a round, there’s not much of that northern feel to the course.
What really makes Lyon Oaks a gem is the condition, its upscale vibe, and the cohesive Hills layout that ties all the holes together. The consistent design cues of the fairways that are carefully cut into the terrain and the clean lines formed by the beveled edges of the ponds provide a sense of familiarity without the feeling of redundancy.
For this reason, each hole presents its own unique challenge. With fairway and green bunkers on almost every hole, strategy comes into play on most shots. Lyons Oaks isn’t too long, with five sets of tees ranging from 4,525 to 6,837 yards, but the course seems to play longer, especially when the wind picks up.
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The closing holes on each nine are doozies. There is the eighth hole of 208 yards and the ninth of 556 yards with a green guarded by a water. The 16th is a 575-yard straight dogleg, followed by the 17th of 204 yards and the 18th of 510 yards with a split fairway and a green guarded by the same pond that guards the ninth green.
But the hole that haunts me is one of the shortest par-4s. The 348-yard 14th hole has a narrow fairway that ends abruptly in a marsh in front of a bean-shaped green guarded by two bunkers. The hole requires an accurate long iron off the tee and a precise approach that will easily roll off the green and into the woods if off target. It’s a great little hole-in-the-wall with tons of character that Hills fits into a cramped space masterfully.
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More than anything, Lyon Oaks is an adult course that offers a serious test and requires golfers to use every club in their bag. Score well here and there’s no doubt your game is on. But even if you don’t go low, the only question you’ll have after playing Lyon Oaks is why every muni can’t be so good.
Contact Carlos Monarrez at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.