The Jackal at Mt. Brighton
About 20 years ago, I was writing a story for the Michigan Skier publication about Mt. Brighton and the firepower it had with its snow guns. The temperature dropped below freezing late in the day and I watched the snow guns fire up. It was a visual wonder. This man-made blizzard blanketed the hill with snow so quickly, that by morning they were ready to open for the onslaught of area skiers.
In June, however, white will give way to green as The Jackal opens at Mt. Brighton. The Jackal is a course out of the stable of the East Lansing based Matthews and Nelhiebel. These are the folks who have brought us Moss Ridge, Emerald Vale and Hidden River Golf and Casting Club. Howard Nauboris, a golf architect who is earning his stripes working for Matthews & Nelhiebel, is nearing his five course prerequisite for entrance into the American Society of Golf Course Architects. Howard is the primary architect for The Jackal. Previously, he worked on Moss Ridge and Emerald Vale, both West Michigan courses.
The Jackal provided some real challenges for Nauboris, as he needed to work the twin peaks of Mt. Brighton into the course design. One major problem was the design of a tee box, and the resultant retaining wall high up on the hill. Other innovations included a tunnel through one of the ski hills and a series of boardwalks through the course wetlands. All in all, he is very proud of his work and solving the challenges that the site provided Among The Jackal's features are a large waterfall, a tunnel near the top of Mt. Brighton and four tee areas with a hang time of 100 feet. I previewed the course with Bruce Matthews III and owner Joe Bruhn.
The first tee really nails the experience as it begins at the top of Mt. Brighton. You can see for miles around from that spot. The view also gives you the opportunity to look at the work of Nauboris as you can view the entire course, with its towering oaks, ponds, boardwalks and streams. The Jackal, which plays 6,700-yards and is a par-71, is a course built on the ski hill and also features an eight-acre pond, six dozen bunkers and a peninsula green. Of special note is the ninth hole, where you will need to keep your tee shot between the lift towers on each side of the fairway.
For Bruhn it is a dream come true. Mt. Brighton has now become a year-round facility. You will find a driving range and putting green as well as a new pro shop.
Livingston County has assembled a nice collection of courses with the recent addition of The Jackal. Others include Hunter's Ridge, Marion Oaks, Timber Trace, Golf Club of Michigan and Whispering Pines. They join the powerhouse line up of The Majestic, Dunham Hills and Oak Point.
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