Twin Lakes Golf Club in Rochester Hills is a four star (Golf Digest Places to Play) Jerry Matthews designed golf course featuring wide sweeping fairways and huge contoured putting surfaces. This links influenced layout traverses mildly undulating terrain with numerous wetlands and water hazards along the way. Those who have not visited in the past couple of years will be surprised at the growth that has taken place in this upscale residential community, as beautiful homes line many fairways and form a significant backdrop behind many of the green complexes in this 1,000 acre countryside development.
Golf properties do not usually warrant a 4-star rating without providing a nice package of amenities, and the list at Twin Lakes is an impressive one. First of all, two huge practice greens rest between the clubhouse and first tee, with a massive grass range nearby. The short game area includes a chipping area and sand bunker, perfect for a warm up or for a morning or afternoon of practice. The clubhouse features an upscale pro shop, plus lockers and showers for men and women. The restaurant and lounge is wonderfully appointed, and the landscaped outdoor patio is a great place for parties and receptions, and presents views of a natural area that rests immediately behind the clubhouse.
The service here is outstanding - worthy of private club experiences. Crain's Detroit has awarded Twin Lakes with the honor of recognition as the # 1 Women Friendly Course in SE Michigan. There are twenty seven holes on property - the new Woods nine opened for public play in 2006, and provides golfers with a Northern Michigan experience featuring elevation changes, rolling fairways bound by mature trees, and spectacular marshlands populated with herons and indiginous wildlife. Photos 2 throuh 9 in this pictorial review are of the Woods Course. This layout plays to distance measuring 3414, 3172 , 3029, 2831 and 2322 yards, and is located in a serene environment, with no residential properties situated alongside. There are quite a few forced carries over marsh, though like the original eighteen, the carries are reasonable from the white and forward tees. We highly recommend that you inlcude the Woods in any Twin Lakes golf experience. The Estates nine also has 5 sets of tees that play to 3502, 3301, 3160, 2856 and 2507 yards, while the Links nine measures 3243, 3015, 2849, 2548 and 2113 yards. The slope ratings of the 27 holes vary ebtween 109 and 133. A written review of the original 18 holes is featured below.
It is a good idea to pay attention to the daily pin placement information that is provided for on sheets that come with each cart, as these contoured putting surfaces will leave you with some marathon lags if you land on the wrong portion. In fact, dogleg putts or chips may be in order, depending upon the hole location - with the 18th green (clubhouse in the background) as a good example. Golfers will also encounter high quality sand bunkers strategically located near landing areas on the sides of fairways and greenside. Grass bunkers, swales and collections areas are another unique feature. As with most player friendly layouts, there is usually abundant room near the greens, to recover from slightly offline approaches, although tall native grasses await shots hit unconsciously. The yardages measured to the center of the green are very visible on the cart paths - a very much appreciated feature which we wish more courses would adopt. There also is a 150-yards stake on the par fours and fives, and the Kirby marking system is in place (yardages posted every 25 yard from 200 to 75 yards - from 250 out on par fives). Each tee box also has a yardage block.
The opening hole is a fair one - a ninth handicapped par four with a wide fairway that is well bunkered. You will get your first taste of the huge putting surfaces - so make sure you aim for the flag. The green on number two is one of the largest on the course, and is a challenge if the pin location is back right, as a bunker fronts the green on that side. The slope is right to left here. Number three presents plenty of room off the tee, although it is wise to avoid the grass bunker that rests right of center in the 155-140 yard area. The undulating fairway on four requires a tee shot placed prior to the 150 stake , as grass swales left and bunkers right will create a difficult approach for shots not resting in the level landing area. The green complex here includes a huge bunker on the left. The par five 5th features an expansive fairway situated between sand traps on either side, but greenside swales and a two-tiered putting surface present challenges to par on the course's number one handicap. On the par three sixth golfers will find some tough up and downs on shots missing the green, from the depression on the right and sand bunkers to the left. Again - the putting surface is huge, thus the ranking as the 15th handicapped hole. The first forced carry off the tee awaits on seven, as this hole plays over a pond to a generous fairway situated between rows of bunkers on either side. Be aware that a small marsh area rests just to the left of the green from 70 yards in, making the right side the preferred area for the approach. The fairway on eight turns to the left, inviting a long tee shot aimed over the edge of the left fairway bunker. You must carry to the 160 area for a safe landing, so if that type of distance is not in your repertoire, a lay up to the right side of the fairway is a better play. A natural area rests along the left side off the tee on nine - making the right center the place to be. Tall grasses await shots hit far left on the approach. A halfway house, with sandwiches, snacks and beverages is conveniently located in this area.
The back side opens with a score-able par four that turns to the left, along an ample fairway with bunkers waiting for shots pushed to the right and a marsh situated far left. The putting surface here is sloped back to front and left to right. The eleventh is a par three that plays long, and necessitates a tee shot over a natural area. There is plenty of room, although bunkers and mounding can make up and downs a tough proposition. Number twelve has begins with a forced carry over marshland, to an ample fairway that will leave a slightly uphill approach. Thirteen swings back past the halfway house and plays to a generous fairway that invites a tee shot placed to the right of the left fairway traps. The demanding approach on this tough par five is to a shallow green fronted by a deep bunker front right and grass collection area short left. Long is trouble here. Players hitting from the forward tees witness the player friendly environment here to the fullest, as the carry over the wetlands on the par three 14th is quite simple, when compared to the challenges from the back tees. There is room long and to the left, although sand bunkers may get in the way. From an elevated tee golfers can view the generous landing on the 15th fairway (see initial photo in this review) , and may recognize that shots pushed too far right can reach the water hazard. This lake comes into play again near the green, as it squeezes the area in front of the putting surface from about 60 yards in. Sixteen is challenging three par, as shots hit short will find grassy swales and collection areas greenside. From a slightly elevated tee area golfers will have to navigate the fairway bunkers on the dogleg right par four 17th. Aim just right of the traps to leave the most advantageous approach to a green that is well bunkered in front. The 150 to 100 yard area is a good place to be. The finishing hole is a long par five that plays to a sweeping fairway with numerous sand and grass bunkers along the way. The terrain is extremely undulating from 100 yards in, creating some tricky lies from that area. Pay special attention to the hole location here, as this is one of the largest and most contoured putting surfaces on the course.
Twin Lakes is located about 5 miles north of the town of Rochester in north metro Detroit - and is well worth the drive. We recommend you arrive early to take advantage of the great short game area, and stay for lunch or an after round beverage - nice atmosphere and very friendly people.
Review by Two Guys Who Golf