Preamble: I have been sitting at my computer for roughly 15 minutes now trying to figure out how to start this review.  I feel like this used to be easier, or maybe I just used to be better at this…  Also, I apologize in advance for the lack of photos in this review.  The photos I took do not do the course justice, so I decided not to use them.

Let’s just rip the bandage off and start writing.  For the last several months, I have been living in the Detroit, MI area and attempting to keep my hands warm enough to hit a few balls.  See LG on golf in the tundra.  One great takeaway I’ve had from my time here is to learn just how excellent Michigan golf can be.  Don’t quote me on this, but I’m pretty sure Michigan has 3.2 golf courses for every golfer that lives in this state.  Northern Michigan also has some of the most breathtaking courses I’ve ever had a chance to play.  Later, I’ll post a review of my 9 hole round at Arcadia Bluffs.  The pictures cannot begin to show the elevation change and character of that amazing property.  More to come there.  Another added benefit of having so many amazing courses – tons of selection, quicker rounds than I’m used to in California, and excellent courses are highly affordable!

Now for the good stuff.  Today, I review Blackheath Golf Club located in Rochester, MI.  So, I was sitting on the couch last night trying to decide where to play.  Not having a set of golf buddies in Michigan, any sense of which courses are worth playing, and no last minute access to the Red Wings game, I decide to tool around on golfnow.com and golfadvisor.com to book a tee time for Saturday morning.  Blackheath catches my eye for a few reasons: 1) bent grass greens 2) links style course 3) $37.  That might be enough to sell me alone, but the reviews on golfadvisor confirm that the course is generally kept in very good shape.  Anyone that knows JK and me knows that this is a no brainer.  I book the 10:18 am spot through the course’s website because it’s cheaper than golfnow.com.  (Sorry to out you, golfnow, but hey, you weren’t the cheapest).

Upon arrival, I know I’m coming to a place that is purely about golf.  The only visible structure on the course is the pro shop/maintenance shed.  To the right is the practice facility where you can take your mish-mash bucket of balls and warm up, or just head straight to the first tee.  Don’t expect a large menu in the grill, mainly because there isn’t a grill.  The staff will happily make change for you for the vending machine, however.  No bells, no frills, just golf.  I love it.

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While the course had not grown in entirely from the winter, I can confirm that the bent grass greens were in immaculate shape.  These could be the best greens I’ve had a chance to play in Michigan, and they definitely rival the condition of many I’ve played in California.  My deepest thanks to the greenkeeping staff!

As far as the layout is concerned, my immediate impression was that this Par 71 is a true links style course.  Don’t let the yardage fool you.  6700-6800 yards here will play much longer than the scorecard yardage when the wind is blowing its normal pace.  That 73/137 is no joke.  The gentleman in the pro shop told me it is more of a “heathland” style course (see definition found via the Google), which was a fascinating new term for me to learn.  In either case, this is truly one of the courses any golf trip to the area should include, and residents of the area should play regularly.  For a course located in an area that is generally flat, there was a surprising amount of elevation change built into the course.  While most of this must have been manufactured by the architects, it did not have the “cookie cutter” quality that is generally off-putting about those types of courses.  Moreover, the architect took care to fabricate run up and collection areas with these elevation changes that play the way these features are meant to be played – fast and firm, but penal if shots are not executed well.

As I tend to do in my reviews, I focus on the par 3s and par 5 holes because I tend to enjoy those the most.  Blackheath has five par 3s and four par 5s, and they contain my favorite and least favorite holes on the course.  My favorite hole was the par 3 12th.  I wish the picture had turned out better, but today, it played 214 yards with a steady left to right wind.  The pin was cut in the front and framed between two massive heather-faced bunkers.  I drew 4 iron with the holes of holding up a draw into the breeze and softly landing 3 feet left of the flag.  4 additional shots later, I’m walking off the green with a spoiled round and a giant smile on my face.  Golf does that some times.  If there’s a criticism of this course, it must be the design of the par 5 11th.  The 600 yard hole bends sharply around the outside of the course’s par 5 8th.  Without any real penalty for missing the drive, the prudent way to play this hole is up the 8th fairway to take a large bite out of the yardage.  While I believe that courses should always allow for some creativity off the tee, the play should always be to the fairway that the hole is designed around.

All in all, for a true links (heathland) style experience, I would highly recommend Blackheath golf club.  Towards the summer when the course firms up and the run up areas play as they are designed to play, this will be a true test of a complete set of golf skills.  The course is kept in immaculate shape, and the lack of trees on the course will keep the greens and fairways firm, fast, and playable throughout the season.  If played from the appropriate tees, this would be an excellent course for players who may not carry the ball very far or who may be newer to the game.  This style course lends itself to “ground play” and can help build confidence of players who may have trouble getting the ball into the air.  Moreover, only 3 or 4 holes have water or hazards that may come into play, so if you’re trying to figure out where your driver is going, this could be a good test round.

That’s all for now, folks.  If I get a chance to play again, I’ll update this post with pictures.

This err.. week’s… play of the week goes to…. the PowerFade!

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Golf Top 18 recently named The PowerFade as one of the top 100 course reviewers online!  Here’s what they had to say about the PowerFade specifically:

“The Power Fade Golf Blog by JK and LG.  Fun golf blog written by friends LG, a California lawyer and JK, who just loves golf.  The purpose of the blog is to share some new opinions with the golfing world– though we love the golf course reviews, some conversations they record on their main blog are highly entertaining as well.”

Honestly, JK and weren’t even sure anyone else read the blog.  I was pretty sure people were just being misdirected here when they were trying to find a new putting tip.  All kidding aside, we’re very humbled to receive this honor and hope that our blogging has been entertaining and useful for those of you who take the time to read our thoughts.  If nothing else, this award has shamed JK and me into thinking of new items to post and into digging through old scorecards and iPhone pictures for courses to review.

Thank you, Golf Top 18, and to all of our readers.

Full article here: http://www.golftop18.com/golf-course-review-awards.html.  Check out the other honorees, but don’t read their stuff instead of ours.

-LG and JK

True to form, the season is rounding out nicely. Many tournaments this year have gone to playoffs. We have had a host of big names playing their best golf at the right time. Wins from guys like Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, and Jimmy Walker have headlined a great start to the year. But now, it’s time for the best week of golf.

Every year, that week is The Masters. It’s a our reminder that Spring is upon us and that our days of golf with friends and family are nearing. I think I speak for LG here in saying that our favorite post of anything we do is the one you’re about to read.

In commemoration, here is our 5th year of Predictions: I give you our Masters Predictions 2015:

updates 4/12/2015 :
Top 10 Leaderboard:
1 Jordan Spieth -18
T2 Phil Mickelson -14
T2 Justin Rose -14
4 Rory McIlroy -12
5 Hideki Matsuyama -11
T6 Ian Poulter -9
T6 Paul Casey -9
T6 Dustin Johnson -9
T9 Hunter Mahan -8
T9 Zach Johnson -8
T9 Charley Hoffman -8
T12 Rickie Fowler -6
T12 Ryan Moore -6
T12 Bill Haas -6

JK:
Winner: Jason Day T28 at -1. Correct is Jordan Spieth
Winning Score: -12 -18
Runner Up: Rory McIlroy Solo 4 at -12. Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose were T2 at -14
Low Amateur: Byron Meth Corey Conners shot 80-69 to MC best at 149. Meth shot 74-76 for a 150, 1 shot off
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Brian Harman MC with 76-72. There really wasn’t a true “unknown” in the top10. Maybe Matsuyama, but he’s big in Japan. Hoffman has been known for awhile. The nearest thing to a true “unknown” near the top10 was Kevin Streelman, but even he has some cache to his name.
Most difficult hole vs. par? 4 (i usually pick 11, but let’s mix it up) 11 at +.326, but 4 was +.296 for second most difficult
Easiest hole vs. par? 13 yeah, always is
Last Year’s Winner (Bubba Watson) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut)? Make the cut correct
How many prior Masters winners will be in the Top 10? 4 2, Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson
US Open Champion (Martin Kaymer) will …? Make the cut MC
British Open Champion (Rory McIlroy) will …? Top10 Correct, solo 4 at -12
PGA Champion will … oh yeah, we don’t need to ask what Rory’s going to do again…
When will Sergio Garcia implode? the day he steps off the plane Friday, shooting 74, but otherwise played great and finished T17 at -5
Dustin Johnson will…? close to the Top10 T6 at -9
Rickie Fowler will…? make the cut Correct, but just barely–he was two shots from T9. Instead, he finished T12 at -6.
Jordan Spieth will…? make the cut yea…sort of….he killed it!
Jimmy Walker will…? make the cut Correct. T38 at +1
Tiger will? Top10…specifically T-4 close. T17 at -5.
Phil Mickelson will? Top10 Correct
Ben Crenshaw, Larry Mize, and Sandy Lyle. Who wins? Crenshaw, in his last year of playing, shoots the low round of the triad, and misses the cut by 4 shots. crenshaw shot the worst scores in the field–91-85. Yikes.
What will be the major storyline of the tournament? TIGA TIGA TIGA WOODS, Y’ALL That was big, but bigger was how Spieth demolished the field
What is your Bold prediction? Tiger Woods plays tremendous golf but misses easy putts all day. Rory makes a push for the title but can’t get over his duck hook from a few years ago and puts two in the water on 15. Jason Day does just enough to keep it in play and putt to hold on by 1, finally getting his major. would have been fun if this had happened, but it was still awesome watching Spieth annihilate the record books.

LG:
Winner: Sergio Garcia T17.
Winning Score: -9 Try double that
Runner Up: Rickie Fowler T12
Low Amateur: Gunn Yang This would be the correct answer to the question “who shot the third worst round in the entire field?
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Anirban Lahiri T49
Most difficult hole vs. par? 11 yeah
Easiest hole vs. par? 13 yeah
Last Year’s Winner (Bubba Watson) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut)? Top 10 nope. T38 at +1
How many prior Masters winners will be in the Top 10? 2 correct
US Open Champion (Martin Kaymer) will …? Miss Cut correct
British Open Champion (Rory McIlroy) will …? Top 10 correct
When will Sergio Garcia implode? In the press room after he wins 🙂uhm…
Dustin Johnson will…? Top 10 Correct. T6
Rickie Fowler will…? Runner Upnot exactly
Jordan Spieth will…? Make Cut lol. yeah.
Jimmy Walker will…? Make Cut correct
Tiger will? Play. he did a lot more than that
Phil Mickelson will? Make Cut so did he
Ben Crenshaw, Larry Mize, and Sandy Lyle. Who wins? Crenshaw – he already called it his last one. by crenshaw not returning, i think we all win
What will be the major storyline of the tournament? Sergio’s putting holds up to win him his first Major uhm
What is your Bold prediction? Sergio wins isn’t a bold enough prediction?  Fine, Sergio’s redeeming win is overshadowed by Golf Channel following Tiger to the port-a-john when he has gas.OH NO! HE BREATHED WRONG! IS HE INJURED?!?!?!?!?!
LG will…? Be attending the Masters on Wednesday and Thursday 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 you suck

JK, I think we need to mix up the questions next year.

Also, see our history of prior years’ predictions:
2014: https://thepowerfade.com/2014/04/07/predictions-masters-2014/
2013: https://thepowerfade.com/2013/04/08/masters-predictions-2013/
2012: https://thepowerfade.com/2012/04/10/predictions-masters-2012/
2011: https://thepowerfade.com/2011/04/11/conversation-masters-predictions/