Stonebridge Golf Club is the best public course around Ann Arbor.
Stonebridge Golf Club
By Joe Passov
Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Wolverines hit their stride last weekend against overmatched Delaware St., piling up 727 yards in a 63-6 rout. Don't think they'll do the same, however, to JoePa's Nittany Lions, who blanked Minnesota in an impressive defensive display. Either way, the Big House will be rocking. If you're along for the ride, here's where to play, eat and drink in the town the locals call A2.

Play
The University of Michigan's home course bears the design imprint of Alister MacKenzie, but it's strictly private. Fortunately, a fistful of solid public tracks ring the campus. Start with Stonebridge Golf Club (734-429-8383, stonebridgegolfclub.net]; $20-$39), a 1991 Arthur Hills design. It's a woodsy, watery, worthy test south of campus that stretches 6,932 yards. It's also dotted with houses and early '90s mounding (kind of like Big Hair was to the 1980s), but it's still the best public course around.

A second option is Leslie Park Golf Course (734-794-6245, a2gov.org] ; $17-$38), a fairly hilly, city-owned layout in northern Ann Arbor. This 32-year-old E.L. Packard design was updated by Arthur Hills in 1995 and is graced with mature trees and a pair of watery par-3s, 12 and 17, that will linger long in memory. Play it from the 6,591-yard tips, where the slope is a manageable 129.

A popular third choice is Lake Forest Golf Club (734-994-8580, lakeforestgc.com] ; $15-$35), a 10-year-old track that practically abuts Stonebridge. It's a tale of two nines here, with an open, linksy front and a densely wooded back. Don't let the 6,660-yard length fool you. The water and wetlands never let up, notably at the 351-yard, par-4 12th and at the 588-yard, par-5 18th, a hole that features a creek, a pond and staggered bunkers to spice the play.\n

\nEat
If you've got a craving for salted, cured meats piled high on tasty sandwich bread, Zingerman's Delicatessen (734-663-DELI, zingermansdeli.com) on Detroit Street is the place to indulge. Sure, it's crowded and folks bark out orders while in line, but there's a reason people line up for the New York-style pastrami and corned beef.

If you head to Angelo's (734-761-8996, angelosa2.com) on Catherine Street for their homemade French toast (plain or raisin bread), you likely won't need lunch — or perhaps even dinner.

Fine dining in Ann Arbor is a mixed bag, but the Earle Restaurant (734-994-0211, theearle.com/home) on West Washington serves up an amazing wine list and live music on certain nights in a brick-lined basement setting. Its uptown location on S. Thayer (734-994-0222) is equally strong and is situated at the Bell Tower Hotel in the heart of campus.

Casey's Tavern (734-665-6775, caseys-tavern.com) on Depot Street is conveniently close to the Amtrak Station, but however you arrive, the burgers, onion rings, pea soup from scratch and maize-and-blue hush puppies are must-haves.

Drink
Sports Illustrated once picked Scorekeepers Sportsgrill & Pub (734-995-0100) on Maynard as the best place in town to raise your glass and sing "Hail to the Victors." Dartboards and pool tables are worthy distractions.

\nThe Arena (734-222-9999, theArena-A2.com) on East Washington isn't the most atmospheric sports bar, nor is it Wolverine-crazy, but it delivers in every other respect, from solid burgers and wings to a fine selection of regional beers.

Have suggestions of your own? Share your local knowledge in the comments field below.

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