SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN – GOLF AT ITS BEST.
When Raymond Hearn set out to design Yarrow in 2002, he was determined to carefully preserve the natural surroundings, which through the years have made the area such an appealing place to visit. Working from a well-planned design that required very little earth moving, Hearn created 18 beautiful holes that challenge the best golfers, yet still leave plenty of room for errant shots.
Yarrow has a links-style feel, with wide fairways and large, distinctively rolling greens guarded by strategically located sand bunkers and high fescue. Every aspect of Yarrow contributes to the characteristics of a course that is an enjoyable experience for golfers of all abilities.
Hearn’s design respects all the natural beauty of the area, sending the track through groves of Scotch pine, hardwoods, native bushes and grasses, a private lake, numerous marshy areas and the meandering Augusta Creek.
“The way Ray Hearn designed Yarrow and the way Doug O’Rourke built it, the course is as close to a natural piece of property as you can get,” says Steve Helner, Yarrow’s Head Professional. “They had to move very little dirt, so it is very well tied into the natural topography.”
At Yarrow, you’ll experience dramatic views from the tee boxes, extremely generous landing areas, enormous green complexes, subtle changes of elevation and only two forced carries over hazards on the entire course.
“Having golfed at many of the top courses across the country. I enjoy Yarrow more than any course I have played,” says Helner. “Not only do we have five tee boxes to accommodate every level golfer, the course plays very fair. You will be rewarded with a good shot and can get into some trouble from a mis-hit. You will also, need to be attentive to the hole location chart as our greens are very large with nearly forty percent of the greens being tiered.”
From the first tee shot through a chute of pine trees on No. 1, you’ll get a generous dose of what makes Yarrow one of the most beautiful and playable courses in Michigan. You’ll hit driver onto a beautifully shaped fairway some 45 feet below the tee box. There’s no chance to relax because your second shot takes you back uphill once again, and you’ll have to avoid two large bunkers, one of them an enormous greenside trap on the right that will gobble up errant approaches.
Once you reach No. 1 green, take in the golf course’s most expansive and panoramic view that includes Hamilton Lake to the Northwest, a large red barn on the adjacent property, along with plenty of tall scotch pines and the ever-present Yarrow Lodge in the background. The green itself is a triple-tiered affair, with the lowest area in front and all three levels relatively flat.
“No. 5,” says Helner, “is the most talked about hole at Yarrow. A 407-yard, par 4 referred to as “The Cape Hole,” it has shoreline all along the left side. What makes it such a great hole is that you can play aggressive and try to leave yourself a wedge shot in; or you can play a conservative shot tee shot and have as much as 200 yards to the green. It is also one of the most eye appealing hole on the course.”
Yarrow’s most memorable par 5 is No. 16, a 508-yard test that forces you to hit driver onto a bottlenecked landing area that drops off on the left. If you are long enough and can take it over the bunker on the right, you’ll have a middle or short iron into the green. But for the average golfer, this is truly a three-shot hole. Lay up to the bunker on the right, take your second shot out to 100 yards or so from the hole, and follow with a short iron into a severely tiered, very shallow green.
“It’s our shallowest green, but extremely wide,” Helner pointed out. “On this hole, if you hit the fairway you will be in good position, but miss it and you will make it a lot more difficult on yourself. If you miss it left, it’s all fescue and falls off the face of the earth. Miss it right and you could end up in the bunker, which has fescue above it.”
No. 17 is Yarrow’s best par 3, where you hit from an elevated tee within a cathedral of trees to an extremely large green that sits back in the corner of the property. From the tips it’s 186 yards and requires a careful, accurate shot. “I find that this hole plays a half club shorter than the yardage because of the elevation change,” offers Helner.”
The finishing hole,” Helner says, “is Yarrow’s best par 4. From the tee box you can take in a gorgeous view of the Lodge as it rises majestically behind the 18th green. It is here that you must deal with one of the course’s two forced carries – a 180-yard gap over marshland to a narrow landing area with a small pot bunker in the middle of the fairway.”
“Over the bunker, there is a small bottleneck, and then you are looking at a short to mid-iron shot into an extremely large green, one of the biggest on the course, that runs right up to the Golf Shop,” Helner said. Once you make it on the putting surface you will find it a tough green to read with the subtle breaks. Be aware of the shelf on the back of the green when there is a rear pin placement.
Yarrow is memorable course that golfers will want to play over and over again. The course offers a test for all levels of golfers, has a lot of variety with different hole styles and is very scenic. If you have not yet played Yarrow, you will want to put it on your list as you will truely be impressed.