Dunham Hills in Hartland, Michigan is a 3-1/2 star golf course (Golf Digest Places to Play) featuring 18 holes of challenging play set amidst rolling topography with mature conditioning. Undulating tree-lined fairways demand accuracy off the tee and on approaches to well groomed green complexes. A round here will benefit from knowledge of how to play the ball above and below your feet, and from side hill lies. You will need your “A” game to negotiate the tight shots presented off the tee on many holes of this layout, which features 3 sets of tee boxes ranging in slope from 128 to 118.
The clubhouse at Dunham Hills is an upscale, Country Club style building, with a full service pro shop, Banquet/outing facilities for up top 300 people and a dining area open for lunch and dinner. On property practice facilities include full service women and mens lockerrooms, open to the public, bag drop, two putting greens, a grass (and mat) range and a practice sand bunker. Amenities also include ball and club washers on each cart.
The course itself is well appointed with markers at 100/150/200 on all the par fours and fives, and small indicators on the flag sticks for front, middle and back pin placement. With distances ranging from 6715 to 5310, Dunham Hills can be a tough but pleasant challenge for golfers of all levels of abilities. We found the white tees offered all we wanted at 6291 yards. Many of the fairways are tree-lined and quite undulating. Accurate tee shots will be rewarded with level lies, but those slightly off line may be “playing on an angle” for much of the day.The key here is to keep it in the fairway, avoiding unpleasant lies under mature hardwoods and pines. Golfers adept in hitting long irons with low trajectories, and high arcing wedges will save strokes while playing from behind tree lines and bush. You will most likely need every club in your bag, as you will be confronted with a great variety of shot options.
The opening hole is representative of the layout – a tree-lined par four with a lone front bunker and a green sloped left to right. Length is not as important as accuracy here. The second is a long par five that doglegs left. There is a hidden pond about 40 yards from the green on the left side, making this a tight approach. The long par four 3rd also presents a narrow, undulating fairway that slopes right to left . At 451 from the blue tees, this is one of the toughest holes of the layout. By the time you reach the 427 yard par four 4th (388 from the whites), you will be quite used to the scene from the tee – as pictured here. Mature hardwoods and pines line this fairway, though there is more room than it appears past the tree line left. A raised green calls for a high, soft approach. After an uphill par three, we find the number 1 handicap on the course. The sixth is a par four that plays 465 from the blues, 447 from the whites, and 415 from the forward tees. By comparison, this fairway is quite open, though the approach does narrow. The eighth plays into the prevailing wind, requiring many to use a fairway wood or even driver off the tee. This is followed by a beautiful closing hole. There is a pond on the left side about 70 yards from the green. The best move is to lay up to the center on this short par four. An easy approach and possible birdie opportunity may be your reward.
The back side plays a couple hundred yards longer than the front. The par fours are particularly long from the blue tees, which play at 3466 yards. Number 10 starts with a rolling fairway along this dogleg left par four. There is room right, but you will be playing uphill and will not be able to clearly see that flag from that side. Eleven is an extremely tight and long par three (233 blues; 215 whites) and is followed by two par fives. The 12th provides ample room off the tee, with an approach to an elevated green that is nestled between tall strands of trees. Thirteen also has a generous fairway, as it doglegs left and plays downhill. These back to back par fives present good scoring opportunities, and are situated prior to the toughest hole on the course. The 447 yard par four 14th features a water hazard on the left about 190 yards out – that is not visible from the blue and white tees. The best approach is from just right of the 150-yard stake in the center of the fairway. A blind tee shot confronts you on the 15th, which is one of the shortest and most score-able holes of the layout. The approach is downhill to a putting surface guarded by a huge tree on the right, and the most dramatic bunker complex on the course to the left. The par three 16th demands a carry over water, but is relatively easy once you fly the hazard. On the tee of number 17 you will find a dogleg right with the fairway sloping noticeably towards the left side. The approach is tight, to a long and narrow putting surface. Number 18 finishes the round with a score-able par four that plays uphill all the way to the green The fairway opens up considerably past the 150-yard marker.
The last four holes at Dunham Hills are listed as the 16th, 18th, 12th and 14th handicaps – allowing the average golfer to finish with a flourish. Surviving the initial holes on the front and back is paramount to scoring well here. Arrive in plenty of time to warm up – as your accuracy will be put to test right off the bat.