The Anticipation of a Great Golf Weekend: Northern Bay Preview

Have you ever had a weekend planned that you were so psyched for, you could barely contain your excitement? This is one of those weekends for me. Ask the guys on my sales team, and they will probably tell you that I have not contained my excitement well at all.
Tomorrow, a couple of friends and I will be heading to the Wisconsin Dells to play two of my top six courses of all time: Castle at the Bay (aka Northern Bay), and Wild Rock.
I don’t want to give too much away for my friends who have yet to play Wild Rock [and writing doesn’t do it justice, anyhow], so my writing on that course will be left for the post-round review. 
For Northern Bay, I thought it would be fun to compare – at the lowest possible level since I have not played any of Augusta, TPC Sawgrass, Oak Hill, Oakmont, Bay Hill or Firestone – their replica holes versus the ones that make them worth replicating.
We will go in order of the holes as they are played at Northern Bay (all pictures of the course were taken this past spring, which explains the lack of foliage)…

3. Augusta National, Hole 16:

The real thing: 170 yards
NB blue tees: 170 yards
Difference in  yardage from recommended tee box: 0
Hole 16 at Augusta National (170, 145)
 Hole 3 at Northern Bay (194, 170, 164, 160)
This is a very difficult par three! A friend of mine was the assistant pro at Northern Bay and was telling me they actually had to keep a ranger on the third to keep players from taking too many tee shots. Go short, and you’re in the water. Go long, and face an almost impossible task of holding the green. It is not uncommon to putt the ball from the top into the pond at the bottom. The front-left sand trip almost seems like a treat.
Proposed hole contest: Closest to the pin from the rough above the green
4. Oakland Hills Country Club, South Course, Hole 5:
The real thing: 490 yards
NB blue tees: 465 yards
Difference in  yardage from recommended tee box: -25 yards

A very long par four, this is the number one handicapped hole at Northern Bay. The fourth is played from slightly elevated tee boxes with the road on the left and two large bunkers on the right side of the fairway. It feels like a par five from the tee box to the green, which is huge but sloped.

Proposed hole contest: closest to the pin in two
6. Firestone Country Club, South Course, Hole 16:
The real thing: 667 yards
NB black tees: 625 yards

Difference in  yardage from recommended tee box: -42 yards

Fortunately, this hole plays mostly downhill, but it is still tremendously long. A calming stream runs alongside the end of the hole and builds into a pond guarding a small green. With trees engulfing the length of the fairway, the course’s recommended tee shot is long iron or wood.

Proposed hole contest: Closest to the pin from the fairway 200-yard marker
10. TPC at Sawgrass, Stadium Course, Hole 17:
The real thing: 132 yards
NB blue tees: 132 yards

Difference in  yardage from recommended tee box: 0

Hole 17 at TPC Sawgrass (132, 128, 115)
Hole 10 at Northern Bay (146, 132, 127, 95)

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Hole 10 at Northern Bay (146, 132, 127, 95)
Probably the most famous par three in all of golf, the 17th at TPC Sawgrass is known simply as “The Island Hole.” The pond on this single hole collects over 8,000 balls every season.
Proposed hole contest: Closest to the pin (tee shot)
11. Augusta National, Hole 13:
The real thing: 510 yards
NB black tees: 510 yards
Difference in  yardage from recommended tee box: 0
Hole 13 at Augusta National (510, 455) 
Hole 11 at Northern Bay (510, 465, 455, 431)
A picture-perfect tee shot. There is plenty of room to play with in the fairway, but getting out far enough and left enough for an iron approach over the stream to the green is not an easy task – nor is finding a spot in the fairway that is not on an up-, down-, or side-slope. Take a minute to enjoy the scenery around the green on the 11th.
Proposed hole contest: Longest drive in the fairway
12. Oakmont Country Club, Hole 3:
The real thing: 428 yards
NB blue tees: 426 yards
Difference in  yardage from recommended tee box: -2 yards
Hole 3 at Oakmont (428, 390, 378)
Hole 12 at Northern Bay (433, 426, 392, 329)
The famous “Church pew” sand traps on the left side are for the most part out of the picture except for in the case of a quite errant tee shot. What makes this hole tougher is the deep sand traps on the right, and the considerable uphill approach.
Proposed hole contest: Closest approach to the pin from the last of the church pew bunkers
18. Bay Hill, Hole 18:
The real thing: 440 yards
NB blue tees: 441 yards
Difference in  yardage from recommended tee box: +1 yard
Hole 18 at Bay Hill (440, 414, 391)
Hole 18 at Northern Bay (462, 441, 430, 417)
The 18th is a fantastic finishing hole. Keep dry off the tee and do your best to hit the green between a substantial pond short and right, and deep green-side bunkers left and long. This green has one of the most drastic changes in slope at Northern Bay, which does not bode well for players “trying to break 90” – or 80, 100, or whatever the final score they have in mind happens to be.

Proposed hole contest: Lowest number of putts

Northern Bay website:
http://www.castleatthebay.com/

Wild Rock website:
http://www.wildrockgolf.com/

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