Golf Course Review: Hawks Landing

Last week I had a great sales day at work on Tuesday, and got a call from a friend who wanted to take advantage of a $42 turn-back-the-clock special at University Ridge. I have plenty of vacation days left, and the weather was supposed to be perfect, so I said absolutely.
After an 8:00 tee time at the Ridge, I found myself in the mood for more golf. Strange, huh? With a high school tournament being played on both nines, I decided to check out their neighboring course, Hawk’s Landing.
Hawk’s Landing looks magnificent from the road, and that is certainly representative of the course, itself. I talked with the pro in the clubhouse, and being a Wednesday there was little traffic and plenty of room for a single player to get around without putting too much pressure on other players.
As a side note: I sometimes enjoy playing courses I am reviewing on my own. I like to play one ball one hundred percent honestly, and a second like I think someone who is a really strong golfer would play. So on the holes where I would hit 3-hybrid off the tee, I will play that, then driver or 3-wood to try cutting off more distance. I feel like this provides better credibility to my play recommendations.
If you’re curious how I hit my clubs and how it might translate to your game, I guess I would sum it up like this: My driver goes pretty long, and I can usually get 250-300 yards out of it. Depending on the day, it will either go straight, slice hard, or I will have issues with my grip and stance and pull my drives frustratingly. Fortunately, I am having many more of the straight days this year. My 3-wood can get out in the 230-250 range. My three and four hybrids are two of my more consistent clubs, and average around 200-225. The best club in my bag is my seven iron, which I hit pretty well in the 165-175 area.
I also enjoy playing solo for reviews because it allows me ample time to take plenty of pictures. My regular threesome can get a little tired of all of my photo-taking, otherwise, as it obviously can slow down play.
Midweek is fantastic for golf. Not only are rates slightly lower, but courses are typically much more open – nobody pressing you to play faster, nobody in front frustrating you by forcing you to slow down your own game.
Back to Hawk’s Landing: I fought it very interesting that the course this year flipped their two nines. In conversation with the club’s PGA Head Professional, Rich Bartley, the change was made [back to the original way it was built] as a result of members’ recommendations based on a number of factors: The sun setting in the face of last season’s finishing hole, having better visibility of players finishing their rounds, and simply allowing for a slightly less tumultuous eighteenth. That is not to say the new eighteenth, which is a par five finishing over water on a severely sloped green outside the clubhouse’s beautiful restaurant (The Roost). I always enjoy an eighteenth hole where viewers from the clubhouse and/or restaurant/bar are able to watch the approach shots, actually. There was a beautiful hole like this at True Blue in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. Several that come to mind more locally, though, include the River Course at Blackwolf Run, The Bull, Castle at the Bay, and Morningstar.
Hole 18: Par 5 (520/496/434/410)

Hole 18: Par 5 (520/496/434/410)
I was happy there weren’t too many spectators watching when I finished my round with a birdie putt from eight feet that turned into 25, then a four footer that I finally put in for bogey.
A semi-private golf club, the “new” front nine at Hawk’s Landing is definitely my favorite. The back nine is a bit more crowded with homes – huge, beautiful homes, actually – although none are too close to impede play. The front nine has more open areas, which I enjoy because it gives more of a feeling of “time away.”
The front nine also utilizes much more elevation. No holes more so than on the fantastic par five fifth hole. The tee shot is well elevated above a tight fairway that is lined on the left by woods. Out-of-bounds and a plethora of bunkers are on the right side, and the fairway funnels downhill and left to a green that is very well guarded by several large oak trees. This is an awesome par five, and one that breaks in to my all-time favorite par fives in the state of Wisconsin.
Hole 5: Par 5 (561/512/482/445)
The elevation continues on the sixth. Tee boxes are high above the downward-running fairway, which winds around a huge pond that creates a right-side border for the fairway and green. Out of bounds is dead, so an accurate tee shot here is critical. I put my 3-hybrid in the woods at the bottom of the hill on my “real” tee shot, then hit the front side of the green with my driver. At 336 yards, that made me feel pretty good. This is another beautiful golf hole.
Hole 6: Par 4 (363/336/310/272) 
Hawk’s Landing has some great par threes, too. The island hole, number eight, is probably the most popular and photogenic, but I think my favorite of their par threes is the 177-yard (black tees) fourth hole. Located on the highest point of the golf course (and one of the highest in Dane County), the wind is a huge factor on this hole, which is wrought with sand traps and a sliver of a laterally running green that is slightly above the normal level of play. A false front and sharp slope add an extra degree or two of difficulty, as well.
Hole 4: Par 3 (200/177/157/137)
The aforementioned eighth hole is the par three most readily seen from the road that passes by Hawk’s Landing (and University Ridge). Seeing this island-like hole, and how magnificently it is set up – fronted beautifully with railroad tiles – provides significant intrigue to golfers who drive by. The green is mercifully huge on this hole, but there is a lot of water to carry, even for a hole that ranges from 114 to 164 yards.
Hole 8: Par 3 (164/135/114/97)
The hardest hole on the course is the par five ninth. At 550 yards from the black tees, the hole goes uphill and is extremely tight. A large gray silo resides on the left side, which I got a great look at when my tee shot ended up behind and between it and a huge tree. This was one of my most unfortunate lies of the day, and my only option was to pitch backwards to the fairway.
Hole 9: Par 5 (587/550/533/469)
The right side of the driving area is heavily sloped right in to a creek-like area that drops six feet from the playing surface, then woods. The fairway itself continues uphill, and finishes right of a deep front-side bunker and left of a gorgeous flowing water feature, complete with a number of waterfalls. This is one of the most demanding holes I have played, and I was actually happy to get out of there with a seven.
Hole 9: Par 5 (587/550/533/469)

Hole 9: Par 5 (587/550/533/469)
While my initial lie on nine was tough, it didn’t come close to the difficulty of my lie on the split-fairway seventeenth. When my eight-iron approach came up a little short, I was horrified to find this…
Hole 17: Par 4 (429/393/357/308)
Fortunately, my recent viewing of the “Bunker Special” with Michael Breed on the Golf Fix taught me how to hit true fried eggs, and I was able to smack this out to the front of the green.
Hole 17: Par 4 (429/393/357/308)
Hawk’s Landing is one of the most well-kept courses I have played in the state of Wisconsin. The greens are probably the fastest I have ever played, and roll absolutely beautifully. The entire course is as green as green can get. I was told by a member who ended up pairing up with me for the back nine that the course’s greenskeeper is probably their biggest asset. That is not a knock on the rest of the course and staff, though, as the property as a whole is very well thought-out and maintained.
Hole 11: Par 4 (442/410/361/327)

Hole 13: Par 3 (189/175/151/104)

Hole 14: Par 4 (325/300/285/254)

Hole 16: Par 3 (239/206/175/154)
Putts that would travel four feet on most nice course’s greens literally went fifteen. It was quite humbling to finish my round here with eight three-putts, and I actually felt like I had a pretty good stroke going.
Hawk’s Landing was a wonderful experience, and I also really enjoyed my time sitting down with Rich and talking about his golf club. His passion for his golf club is evident, as well as in the quality of his course and in talking with their members. If I lived in the Madison area and they have an affordable junior membership, this is certainly a club I would consider joining.

Course Wrap-up:
Location: Madison, WI
Yardage: Maroon-7,227, Black-6,678, Member-6,330, Blue-6,066, White-5,395
Slope/Rating: Maroon-134/74.8, Black-129/72.3, Member-125/70.9 Blue-123/69.6, White-122/71.2
Par: 72
Weekend Rates: $74 (with cart)

3 comments on “Golf Course Review: Hawks Landing

  1. Pingback: Golf Course Review: Hidden Glen at Bentdale Farms | WiscoGolfAddict

  2. Pingback: The Country’s Best Golf Courses… That I’ve Played | WiscoGolfAddict

  3. Pingback: Wisconsin’s Best Public Golf Courses | WiscoSportsAddict

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