The Orchards Golf Club was an attempt, in the words of designer Robert Trent Jones II, to create a public option that lived up greater Detroit’s legacy of Golden Age architecture. The result is an eye-catching public access traveling around what was once an apple orchard (holes No. 3 and 4 offer the best views). A real estate development is core to the course’s development, however the route plays alternately through large isolated woodlands and wide, open areas.
The latter allow Jones to bring some taste of parkland links to the site, joining holes through wide, shared fairways on several occasions. Aside from the previous two holes described, Nos. 16 and 17 share both shortgrass and a series of hazards in between. It’s not unreasonable that a player on either tee end up in the bunkers in between the two holes. There’s also a tree positioned to the right side of both...but No. 17 also has a standalone tree standing in the middle of the fairway about 200 yards out from the green.
The Orchards is always looked at as one of the best public options in metro Detroit and it is that. The course suffers because of that though, having played several times with just brutal pace of play over 5 hours. The course has some really good holes but suffers aesthetically due to houses lining most of the holes. It deserves its spot as one of the top publics in metro. I always enjoy RTJII designs and this is no exception, I play the course annually and will be back this year.