Michigan’s varsity golf teams compete and practice at one of the finest university-owned courses in the country, the University of Michigan Golf Course. The challenging fairways and greens lie among stately trees, plush rough and hills that offer a breathtaking view of the university’s main campus. In addition to Michigan’s golfers, the U-M Golf Course is also the home course for the Michigan cross country teams.
The University of Michigan Golf Course was designed in the late 1920s by Alister MacKenzie, one of golf’s all-time great architects. The regents unofficially opened the course in the fall of 1930 as the first golfers to play the new U-M Golf Course. The course officially opened in the spring of 1931 and immediately drew praise as one of the finest in America. At the time of its opening, the University Golf Course became just the fourth course to be located on a college campus. The U-M Golf Course is one of a select few MacKenzie-designed golf courses in the United States. The famed Augusta National is another.
MacKenzie, Golf magazine’s “Golf Architect of the Century” for the first 100 years of golf in America, brought his passion for the sport and of old St. Andrews, Scotland, to Ann Arbor. The U-M Golf Course is another enduring addition to the “Athletics for All” program of U-M athletic director Fielding H. Yost, a program he created to touch students for generations to come.
A multi-million dollar renovation completed in the spring of 1994 restored the grandeur of the University Golf Course to the ranks of MacKenzie’s other classics. Orchestrating the restoration was Arthur Hills, a Michigan graduate and one of the foremost golf course architects in America. As an admirer of MacKenzie, Hills understood his focus was not a new course in Ann Arbor but a return to MacKenzie’s intent.
The renovation included the return of original bunkers, improved tree planting and placement, construction of stately tee areas and an improved irrigation system. A new practice range was added to assist Michigan’s golf squads as well as a number of practice greens and sand traps. The popularity of golf carts necessitated large stretches of cart paths that partition landscaped medians around the course.
In addition to renovations on the course, the clubhouse also underwent a facelift. Team rooms, coaching offices and varsity locker facilities for both Wolverine women’s and men’s teams were added. The pro shop, lobby and refreshment areas were also reconfigured and decorated.
The U-M Golf Course has also hosted postseason tournaments, most recently hosting the NCAA Men’s Golf Regional in 2012. Overall, U-M has hosted three NCAA Regionals and one NCAA Final (1947) as well as 12 total Big Ten Championships — nine men and three women.
The cross country trail follows the golf course’s rolling terrain, traversing almost all of the 18 holes at some point. The races begin on the fairway of the first hole and are highlighted by a climb up the 10th fairway midway through the race. The women’s 5,000-meter and men’s 8,000-meter races conclude between the first and ninth holes.