A wonderful old Donald Ross golf course that has remained largely intact since it first opened in 1926, Franklin Hills Country Club is laid out on a tight tract of land to the north west of Detroit. Indeed, the fact that Ross was able to route 18 holes over such a compact site is testament to the master architect’s design talent.
While other Donald Ross courses (like nearby Oakland Hills) have received plenty of attention down the years, the strictly private profile of Franklin Hills has allowed very few visiting golfers the opportunity to play here. Such exclusivity has had the benefit of preserving the course because the club has had no changes to the layout forced upon it by outside tournament committees.
On the front nine, the 397-yard 2nd hole is a fine par four where three cross bunkers compel golfers to consider their path from tee to green with great care. On the back nine, the 410-yard 17th is another strong two-shotter that sees the fairway dogleg acutely right around water before reaching the green.
“Everything breaks towards 13th Mile Road” is a comment you’ll hear all day at this magnificent Donald Ross classic gem. Golfers quickly become orientated with where they stand relative to 13th Mile Road as the land moves towards it.
This course has a very tough start. A downhill opener is followed by a blind tee-shot over a hill leaving you an approach shot from an uneven lie into a tiered green that slopes from right to left. To rub salt into your early wounds, the 3rd hole is a long par three to a perched elevated green. Mr. Ross brings your heart rate up right from the start!
The greens at Franklin Hills were so well thought out, each of them being very unique and among the best Ross ever created. I can vividly remember the shaping on each of them and how the bunkers fit so well. There’s plenty of change in elevation to keep you interested and enough doglegs to make you think about club selection off the tee. I was tremendously impressed with this old classic.