Former seminary has three nines, named after disciples
PLYMOUTH, Michigan – The Inn at St. John’s Golf Resort in the western suburbs of Detroit has a rich history that dates back to the late 1940s when it was the St. John’s Provincial Seminary. Although the St. John’s golf course doesn’t have the storied history that the St. John’s Seminary has, it’s still a story worth telling.
The seminary served the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit until June 7, 1988, when it was closed, and the property remained dormant until 1994. That year it reopened as the St. John’s Center for Youth & Family.
The St. John’s Center for Youth and Family hosted a variety of summer camps and youth groups, as well as renewal groups for couples. Parishes from all over metro Detroit used their facilities and the wedding chapel, built in 1955, still hosts Catholic weddings to this day.
In 1998 a major repurposing of the property took place, and the golf course went on a two-year hiatus. Work started on redeveloping St John’s main buildings into a comprehensive center for corporate and social conferences, Catholic weddings, and celebrations.
When all of the restoration and renovation work was done in 2000, the property reopened as the St. John’s Golf & Conference Center. The hotel was the final piece of the puzzle and in January 2006, The Inn at St. Johns opened its doors.
There are 3 nine-hole layouts – 27 holes in all. The first nine holes were built in the property’s earliest years and grew to 18 when the golf facilities were opened up to the public in the 1970s. Then, during the property’s redevelopment in the 1990s, nine more holes were added. And can you think of more appropriate names for each nine: Matthew (Holes 19-27), Mark (1-9), and Luke (10-18)?
While each nine-hole loop has its own personality, they all share the same topography and several water features. Water comes into play on seven holes on Mark alone. Mark and Luke are more wide open compared to Matthew, which has several tight fairways. Trees play a predominant role on all three courses.
One of the more memorable trios of holes is Matthew 20 through 22. No. 20 is a legitimate par 4, 387 yards from the gold tees. It’s a slight dogleg-right with a wide-open landing area off the tee. You’ll need to approach the green in the air as the shot is over a valley into an elevated green with considerable undulation. You’ll also need to contend with two sand traps that guard the front.
No. 21 is slightly shorter at 352 yards but plays across a couple of valleys that slope left to right and can leave some interesting lies. The green is even more elevated than the previous hole. The par 3 22nd hole is perhaps The Inn at St. John’s signature hole. From the back tees, the hole plays 194 yards, downhill, over water to a large, well-protected green. Play this stretch in par or better and you’ll probably have a good round.
The one thing all three courses have in common is the halfway house – an area that’s very peaceful and beautifully landscaped. Depending on how you’re playing, you may just want to hang out here.
The Inn has 118 luxurious guestrooms and 24 specialty suites. It also has 25 meeting rooms and a Grande Ballroom that can accommodate up to 450 guests. There is a fine-dining steakhouse on-site – 5ive – with a well-stocked bar and lounge, and all of the recreational amenities you’d expect from a luxury boutique hotel.
With land in that area at a premium, there is no driving range on-site per se. What they do have is something better – Carl’s Golfland right next door. In addition to everything you’d expect to find at Carl’s – which is just about anything to do with golf – there’s a 32-bay heated TrackMan range. You can play games with friends and make a day of it, fine-tune your game with eight key points of data on each swing of the club, or simply hit a quick bucket to warm up before you play.
If you’re looking for a nearby course to host your league play or next outing, The Inn at St, John’s is the perfect venue. All three golf courses are not overly difficult, not too long, and close to the city. Most par 4s play less than 350 yards and no par 4 plays longer than 400, Leagues can rotate each week and have a variety of experiences all at one location. If you play the courses on a regular basis, it’s like having 3 18-hole layouts to choose from.
After your round – or for lunch or dinner if you’re staying at the hotel – check out The Inn’s on-site steakhouse, 5ive. For starters, their 5ive Onion Soup is incredible; caramelized Bermuda and Vidalia onions, shallots, leeks, garlic, Madeira broth, and a baked gruyère crouton. Sharable appetizers include the Brussels Sprouts served with pancetta, hazelnuts, pickled grapes, and onions, infused with a chili-garlic vinaigrette and the Modern Mac & Cheese, smoked white cheddar, Amish butter cheese, bacon lardons, and a herb crumb topping.
Entrees I recommend include the Smoked Bone-In Vaca Beef Short Rib which has a bourbon mustard demi-glace and is served with a white bean purée and pickled vegetables or the 16-oz Prime Ribeye with seasonal vegetables and potatoes and an Armagnac demi-glace. Desserts are incredible, too.
You won’t find a better venue in the metro Detroit area to host a special event or wedding. Their exquisite chapel is available for Roman Catholic weddings. The Inn at St. John’s features four distinctive ballrooms, each with its own unique experience, and meticulously maintained outdoor courtyard areas that provide a refreshing atmosphere for mingling, cocktails, and photos. The Inn at St. John’s hosts many special events on an annual basis, such as the Concours d’Elegance of America car classic.
Last Word: Although none of the courses have overwhelming length, you’ll find several blind shots as well as meandering brooks and several other water hazards to contend with as you make your way around the layout. These courses have been delighting bible scholars and golfers since the 1940s and will continue to delight golfers for many decades to come. The Inn at St. John’s is managed by Michigan-based Boutique Hotel Professionals.