2012 Wrap-Up: The Wisconsin Golf Season in Review

2012 was, by all means, a fantastic year for golfing in Wisconsin. A mild winter allowed the season to start early, including golf-able days in January and February, followed by a very playable March.

My season started with 10 holes at the Bull at Pinehurst Farms with my friend, Adam, who needed a warm-up round to prepare for his Pro/Am experience at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. The day was cold, and I got my season’s first fairway hit on the second hole when my tee shot bounced several times over the icy pond to the fairway. Hey, I’ll take it.

I then discovered the heated range at Missing Links par three in Mequon on February 19, and though there were no flags in, the staff allowed me to play the course in the bitter cold. I shot five-over, which I was very happy with on their challenging Nicklaus-designed executive course.

A first annual (I hope) golf trip to Myrtle Beach found us on four fantastic golf courses in early March, followed by nine rounds in Wisconsin played between March 18 and the end of the month. The season was in full swing from there.

Myrtle Beach was not the only annual trip that started this year. In September, 16 of us found our way “up nort” to the U.P. of Michigan for some of the most spectacular golf of the entire season at Greywalls, TimberStone and Sweetgrass. Not only do I hope this becomes an annual trip, but I would like to make it there in the beginning and end of each season! If you are looking to set up one economical trip this year to play some absolutely world-class courses, this should be it.

Last year’s season in review turned out to be my most popular post of the year. 461 unique visitors have read this article since December 7, 2011, prompting me to make it an annual almanac of sorts for the previous year.

Like last year’s review, my goal for this post is to serve as an annual recap of the season, and to provide a comprehensive recap of what was the 2012 Wisconsin golf season, including best- and worst-of awards.

With no further adieu, let’s get to the awards:

Best Public Course:

1. Blackwolf Run, River Course (Kohler, WI)

September 30 provided the most picturesque setting possible for a round of golf at the natural beauty that is the River course at Blackwolf Run. The fourteenth rated public course in the country (Golf Digest, 2013), the River played host to the 2012 US Women’s Open, and to one of the most memorable rounds of my life with my friend, Mitch.

Hole 5: Par 4 (427/400/388/376/275)


Runners-Up:

2. Erin Hills (Erin, WI)

3. SentryWorld(Stevens Point, WI)

4. Wild Rock(Wisconsin Dells, WI)

5. Geneva National, Arnold Palmer Course (Lake Geneva, WI)

Best Private Course:

1. Horseshoe Bay (Egg Harbor, WI)

Even though it was the only private course I played this past season, Horseshoe Bay would probably still be my favorite if I’d played ten more. The par fives here rival those of any course I have found in the state, and its perfect conditions and wonderful facilities make this trip up north worth the drive.

Playing a variety of private courses is a big priority of mine for 2013, and I am already hard at work trying to find a way on to such courses at Milwaukee Country Club, Blue Mound, North Hills, Merrill Hills, Pine Hills, West Bend, Hidden Glen, and others. If you, yes you, are able to help me with this venture, please(if there was a way to stress this more, I would) reach out to me at wiscosportsaddict@gmail.com!

Hole 18: Par 5

Most Difficult Course:

1. Wild Rock (Wisconsin Dells, WI)

Wild Rock is a beautiful, yet unrelenting golf course. Bring your A-game here if you’re hoping to score low, or else find yourself in all kinds of hazards. The course is long, and features the most breathtaking elevation of any golfing facility in the state of Wisconsin.

Adding to the difficulty is what I consider to be “Sunday hole locations.” In all four times I have played Wild Rock, there have been pin locations on crowns, surrounded by slippery undulations that make the quick greens considerably more difficult.

Hole 15: Par 3 (179/166/134/130/118)

Runners-Up:

2. Erin Hills (Erin, WI)

3. The Bull at Pinehurst Farms (Sheboygan, WI)

4. Blackwolf Run, River Course (Kohler, WI)

5. Grand Geneva, The Brute (Lake Geneva, WI)


Best Spot for 36 Holes:

1. Green Lake, WI: Lawsonia, Links and Woodlands Courses

Taking the top spot for the second consecutive year is Lawsonia. Owned and operated by the local American Baptist Church, Lawsonia features two of the most individually different, but well thought out, courses you will find on a single golf property anywhere.

The perfect links-style layout and playability of the Links course provides fantastic contrast to the classic woodlands-style layout of the Woodlands. Fittingly named, right? Both tracks feature lightning-fast greens. The Links’ putting surfaces, in fact, were sped up to stimp at fourteen and a half toward the end of the season. I was told that a ball dropped toward the middle of the eighth green literally had no chance of staying on the putting surface. Is that fair? Is that cool? I have no idea, because I’ve never experienced anything close to it.

The Links course has been perennially rated as one of the top 100 classic tracks in the country, while both have consistently found their way in to most of the state’s top courses rankings. The Links is almost always the third rated course in Wisconsin, only behind the River course at Blackwolf Run and the Straits course at Whistling Straits. While this is an often-debated ranking amongst my golf friends, the authenticity of Lawsonia’s layouts, and its pure charm, are not debatable.

Hole 17: Par 4 (376/345/323/323)

Runners-Up:

2. Lake Geneva, WI: Geneva National, Hawk’s View, Grand Geneva

3. Wisconsin Dells: Wild Rock, Castle at the Bay, Trapper’s Turn, Baraboo Country Club

4. Madison, WI: University Ridge, The Oaks, Hawk’s Landing

5. Sheboygan, WI: Blackwolf Run, Whistling Straits, The Bull at Pinehurst Farms


Most Memorable Round:

1. SentryWorld (Stevens Point, WI)

Earlier in the season, several of my friends had told me that SentryWorld has been going downhill, and that its parent company (Sentry Insurance, whose Corporate campus the course is located on) has not been putting the money and love in to the course recently.

Thank God I did not listen to those people. On my way home from a trip up north, I found myself just minutes from SentryWorld, and was compelled to finally find out about it for myself. The course conditions were unbelievable. The staff was extraordinarily helpful and friendly. The hole layouts were awesome. The flower hole was even better than I expected. And, amazingly, it was not even the best par three on the course –SentryWorld has the best collection of par threes I have played in Wisconsin, hands down.

Hole 13: Par 4 (395/379/359/339/305)

Runners-Up:

2. Blackwolf Run, River Course (Kohler, WI)

3. Hawk’s View, Como Crossings (Lake Geneva, WI)

4. Erin Hills (Erin, WI)

5. Castle at the Bay (Arkdale, WI)


Best Value:

1. Whispering Springs (Fond du Lac, WI)

I had heard of Whispering Springs for a couple of years, and seen it named Wisconsin’s Best Value by such sources as Hacker’s Central. I finally made it up to Fond du Lac to check out the course this season, and was not disappointed.

The course itself is wonderful, and the value of the round cannot be undersold. With prime time weekend rates of $53, including cart, the quality of the golfing experience at Whispering Springs is worth every penny.

Hole 5: Par 4 (371/343/315/297/266)

Runners-Up:

2. Washington County (Hartford, WI)

3. The National at Fox Hills (Mishicot, WI)

4. The Oaks (Cottage Grove, WI)

5. Baraboo Country Club (Wisconsin Dells, WI)


Biggest Surprise (Positive)

1. SentryWorld (Stevens Point, WI)

I honestly cannot say enough about the quality of the golfing experience at SentryWorld. As a side note, I think Robert Trent Jones, Jr.’s work is amazing. While I am sad that SentryWorld will not be open for the 2013 season, I cannot wait to see what kind of magic RTJ and his staff perform during this year’s renovation of SentryWorld to somehow make this legendary Wisconsin track even better.

Hole 12: Par 3 (223/195/179/147/106)

Runners-Up:

2. The Oaks (Cottage Grove, WI)

3. Baraboo Country Club (Wisconsin Dells, WI)

4. Hawk’s View, Como Crossings (Lake Geneva, WI)

5. Whispering Springs (Fond du Lac, WI)


Most Difficult Hole:

1. Blackwolf Run, River Course #13 (Kohler, WI; Par 3: 231/205/192/150/101)

The most challenging par three I have ever played, the thirteenth on the River course is long and intimidating. At 192 yards from the green tee boxes, the Sheboygan River winds along the right side of the playing zone, while tall trees in the flight zone require a highly lofted club to clear. A well-played draw is the right play here, which happens to not be a major strength of mine.

Hole 13: Par 3 (231/205/192/150/101)

Runners-Up:

2. The Bull at Pinehurst Farms #16 (Sheboygan Falls, WI; Par 4: 425/368/345/335/275)

With an uphill tee shot to a heavily slanted fairway, the approach shot on sixteen is always long, and plays between tree lines and over a deep gorge to the smallest green on the course.
My friend, John, played the Bull his first time toward the end of the season. I kept telling him how I think this might be the toughest hole in the state, which he rebuked quickly with a chip-in birdie, 
leading me to eat crow.

Hole 16: Par 4 (425/368/345/335/275)

3. Erin Hills #18 (Erin, WI; Par 5: 660/637/620/539/506)

With the “Village” and Holy Hill on the horizon, the finishing hole at Erin Hills is one of the most aesthetically beautiful golf holes I have ever seen. It is bearishly long, though, and requires precise strategy and shot-making. While the tee shot is bombs-away, the second must be played well right to set up a mid-iron to the raised green complex. Finishing with par here is a wonderful feat.

Hole 18: Par 5 (660/637/620/539/506)

4. Muskego Lakes #1 (Muskego, WI; Par 4: 445/418/402/402)

A par five for women, the opening hole at Muskego Lakes is a doozy. The tee shot is slightly less than driver, as a river runs through the fairway about 230 yards out. Anything short of the river will leave the remainder plus ten yards to a green that is short from front to back, and is perched about 20 yards above the rest of the playing surface. Second shots here are long, with a sand trap fronting the green and dead area and trees beyond it. Anything hit past the green will be very delicate going back downhill.


Course I Scored the Best At:

1. Washington County (Hartford, WI)

One of the top municipal golf courses in the country, Washington County is a wonderful links-style county course designed by Arthur Hills. Whether because of familiarity, the unblemished course conditions, or simply because the course “Fits my eye,” I always seem to play well at Washington County, with most of my scores posted in the mid-80’s.

Hole 14: Par 3 (197/175/147/92)


Runners-Up:

2. Fire Ridge (Grafton, WI)

3. Fairways of Woodside (Sussex, WI)

4. Morningstar (Waukesha, WI)

5. The Bog (Saukville, WI)


Course I Scored the Worst At:

1. Brown Deer (Milwaukee, WI)

I love the course at Brown Deer Park (although I highly dislike dealing with their staff), but something about the way the course sets up results in way too high of a percentage of my tee shots finding the tree lines. It seems I am always hitting low draws out of the trees to re-find the fairway. 

“Play Brown Deer if you want your game to go to hell,” my friend, Greg, says. For me, this was unfortunately the case this year, including a round the day before playing Erin Hills that allowed all kinds of doubts to enter my head.

Hole 18: Par 5

Runners-Up:

2. Erin Hills (Erin, WI)

3. The Bull at Pinehurst Farms (Sheboygan, WI)

4. Grand Geneva, The Brute (Lake Geneva, WI)

5. Muskego Lakes (Muskego, WI)


Best Greens:

1. Hawk’s Landing (Verona, WI)

Hawk’s Landing is a very classy course, with the toughest greens I have found thus far in Wisconsin. Talk to anyone at the course, and they will tell you they have the absolute best greens keeper around. With the perfection of these greens, I have to agree.

Hole 1: Par 4 (409/374/336/336/291)

Runners-Up:

2. The Oaks (Cottage Grove, WI)

I have heard from a number of people that The Oaks is a favorite of Steve Stricker’s because it has the closest greens conditions to those on the PGA Tour. I had the pleasure of playing The Oaks for three total rounds this season, and these putting surfaces are fantastic.

Hole 7: Par 3 (192/175/170/157/150)
3. Lawsonia, Links (Green Lake, WI)

The greens on the Links course at Lawsonia are some of the fastest, largest and most heavily undulating putting surfaces in the state.

Hole 12: Par 3 (183/171/165/141)



Best Practice Facilities:

1. Washington County Golf Course (Hartford, WI)

With two practice greens for chipping and sand shots, and a massive driving range with an array of practice targets, plus three practice holes (literally, three practice holes), Washington County has the finest practice facilities I have seen in the state.

Runners-Up: 

2. Erin Hills (Erin, WI)

Driving range at Erin Hills

3. The Bull at Pinehurst Farms (Sheboygan Falls, WI)

4. Horseshoe Bay (Egg Harbor, WI)


Best Par 3 Hole:

1. Wild Rock #15 (Wisconsin Dells, WI; 179/166/134/130/118)

I simply love this golf hole, which remains my favorite par three in the state of Wisconsin. Playing over a quarry, the fifteenth at Wild Rock has five distinct tee box areas that are separated by the tree line. Take enough club, but don’t over-hit.

Hole 15: Par 3 (179/166/134/130/118)

Runners-Up:

2. Blackwolf Run, River Course #4 (Kohler WI; 219/195/185/146/117)

Lined on the right by Swan Lake, the fourth at the River course was one of the most popular holes televised during the US Women’s Open. Two stoic swans normally live in this pond, but were relocated to the Meadow Valleys course this season because of the tournament.

At 185 yards from the green tee boxes, everything right is dead. There is little room for error left, either, and the green is incredibly long from front to back. This is a tough, but beautiful, par three hole.

Hole 4: Par 3 (219/195/185/146/117)

3. Erin Hills #9 (Erin, WI; 165/150/143/138/135)

Previously played as the course’s bye, or nineteenth, hole, to settle up bets, the ninth at Erin Hills features highly elevated tee boxes that aim toward a slight target of a green that is raised and surrounded on all sides by deep, craggy sand traps. Take the wind in to consideration on the tee shot, and… Good luck.

Hole 9: Par 3 (165/150/143/138/135)

4. SentryWorld #16 (Stevens Point, WI; 173/155/127/116/106)

Like any Wisconsin golfer, I had heard of the famous “Flower Hole” at SentryWorld. It could not possibly live up to its expectations, I always figured. It did, though, and then some. With more than 45,000 flowers in and around the green and fairway area, the greatness of this hole is not only in the flowers. It is a fine par three, too. With a slightly risen and sloped putting surface, and strategically placed greenside bunkers, par here is far from a given. That being said, I was elated to sink a 15-footer to post three.

Hole 16: Par 3 (173/155/127/116/106)

5. Castle at the Bay #10 (Arkdale, WI; 146/132/127/95/81)

A perfect replica of the world’s most famous golf hole – the seventeenth at TPC Sawgrass – the tenth at Castle at the Bay sets up from the regulation 132-yard distance. In my life, I am one for six on hitting this green in regulation, but to be fair I have probably hit seven or eight other balls in to the drink on ill-fated retries. This hole owns me.

Hole 10: Par 3 (146/132/127/95/81)

6. Hawk’s View, Como Crossings #17 (Lake Geneva, WI; 169/153/136/120/91)

One of the most highly elevated tee shots in the state, the seventeenth at Como Crossings plays from the top of the former Mt. Fuji Ski Hill. The back tee boxes afford a view of the surrounding Lake Geneva and Delavan area, and 87 feet below, the green. This is a breathtaking tee shot.

Hole 17: Par 3 (169/153/136/120/91)

Best Par 4 Hole:

1. Geneva National, Gary Player Course #5 (Lake Geneva, WI; 354/310/283/257/255)

The fifth on the Player course was an instant classic for me. I have always loved drivable par fours, and this one is wonderful. A true risk/reward hole, the fairway in front of the green is drivable, but requires a carry of 225-plus to hit, and is fronted by a waste area and fingered bunkers.

The green’s right-side bunker is deep, and woods left must also be considered if going for this green off the tee. At 310 yards from the gold tee boxes, this is one of the most fun short par fours I have ever played.

As an epitaph, I did hit this green pin-high during my last round, but left the eagle putt just below the hole for a tap-in birdie. Maybe next year!

Hole 5: Par 4 (354/310/283/257/255)

Runners-Up:

2. Lawsonia, Woodlands Course #2 (Green Lake, WI; 341/329/315/315)

This is one of the most calming and serene golf courses in the state of Wisconsin. Playing on an early Sunday morning, as this course is truly meant to be played, the comforting music and chimes of the church property that overlooks this hole puts my heart at ease. Do not be lulled to sleep on this hole, though, as danger lurks everywhere.

Jutson Tower, a large stone observation tower, provides a good line for a mid-iron tee shot to avoid the large quarry that bisects the right (leading to a long approach) and left (leading to a shorter approach that is stymied by a massive oak tree) fairways.

Hole 2: Par 4 (341/329/315/315)

3. Blackwolf Run, River Course #9 (Kohler, WI; 361/337/316/302/238)

The ninth on the River course is the quintessential risk/reward hole in all of Wisconsin golf. The smart play is right of the tree line that splits the air space toward the green. Over the trees is a tough play, as it requires a tee shot that is still 50 feet high over 200 yards from the green tee boxes, and is still kept short of the central fairway bunkers.

If a solid draw is in your bag, risk flying over the Sheboygan River to bring the ball in right to left to the right-side fairway or even toward the green, which is just 316 yards from the green tees. Beware the front-side sand traps, though, en route to this postage stamp of a green that slopes from front to back toward the water.

Hole 9: Par 4 (361/337/316/302/238)

4. Erin Hills #8 (Erin, WI; 490/439/411/359/250)

With a blind tee shot over a huge hill, a high draw would be preferable. Anything right off the tee, though, is dead. The approach is to a green that climbs about 40 yards upwards, and is faced by three sand traps that will require at least an extra club or two to carry.

Hole 8: Par 4 (490/439/411/359/250)

5. The Oaks #14 (Cottage Grove, WI; 435/403/352/347/307)

Teeing up over a vast marshland, the driving area on fourteen is probably not long enough to be played with the old one-metal. A five-wood works well for me here. Hug the left tree line as much as possible to leave a shorter approach, but veering too far left will be lost. The approach here plays over another marshland, to a green area that looks like it is directly on the other side of the wetlands but actually has a good 20 or 30 yards before it to lay up. This is an awesome par four, and a strategic masterpiece.

Hole 14: Par 4 (435/403/352/347/307)

Best Par 5 Hole:

1. Geneva National, Arnold Palmer Course #17 (Lake Geneva, WI; 573/530/485/421/406)

Walking off the green of the gorgeous par three sixteenth hole on the Palmer course, you will walk alongside the shore of Lake Como to tee boxes that when looked over cannot help but conjure up thoughts of the famous finishing hole at Pebble Beach.

One of Arnold Palmer’s “Dream 18” holes from his course designing career, the seventeenth presents a formidable challenge: Getting off the tee. The lake borders the entire left side of the hole layout, while out of bounds lines the right side of the driving area.

The hole flows down the shoreline and finishes with a flurry of sand traps. This is the signature hole on the Palmer course, and one of the most beautiful holes in the state of Wisconsin.

Hole 17: Par 5 (573/530/485/421/406)

Runners-Up:

 2. University Ridge #16 (Verona, WI; 554/533/514/434)

The sixteenth at U-Ridge is one of the most fun holes in the state. A colossal oak tree provides the first choose-your-own-adventure experience on this hole: Aim to the right of it to hit the lower fairway, and risk finding the woods or fescue if the drive cuts? Or, aim to the left side of the tree for a slightly safer play, but in doing so add substantial yardage to the second shot?

If you found one of the three initial fairways off the tee, the second shot will present another great challenge: Do you aim over the thirteen pre-green sand traps en route to the green? Or, do you play to the left or right of the green to their subsequent fairway approach areas to stay safe and leave a short pitch in?

Hole 16: Par 5 (554/533/514/434)

3. Wild Rock #6 (Wisconsin Dells, WI; 588/551/525/504/457)

The most awe-inspiring tee shot on one of the state’s most majestic golf courses is Wild Rock’s par five sixth hole. The view from the quartzite tee boxes overlooks Baraboo and over 30 miles of the surrounding Wisconsin Dells area.

Being in or around the fairway is essential, as anything right is dead, and there is little room to work with left. The fairway narrows as the sixth plays uphill, and a blind approach shot requires guess-work to hit a green that seemingly falls off the face of the earth both right and long. The pin location has been on the crown of a severe slope every time I have played this hole, making a two-putt a lot to ask for.

Hole 6: Par 5 (588/551/525/504/457)

4. Big Fish #13 (Hayward, WI; 525/487/475/440/401)

The back nine at Big Fish is absolutely beautiful, and is highlighted by this phenomenal par five. Following a straight tee shot, the setup is played over a gigantic crest in the fairway that drops significantly toward a lower fairway area before playing back uphill to a small green guarded by several pot bunkers left, and a line of trees right. This is one of my new favorite holes in the state of Wisconsin.

Hole 13: Par 5 (525/487/475/440/401)

5. Erin Hills #18 (Erin, WI; 660/637/620/539/506)

See summary above, under “Most Difficult Hole” category.

Hole 18: Par 5 (660/637/620/539/506)


Best Drivable Par 4:

1. Blackwolf Run, River Course #9 (Kohler, WI; 361/337/316/302/238)

See summary above, under “Best Par 4 Hole” category.

Hole 9: Par 4 (361/337/316/302/238)

Runners-Up:

2. Geneva National, Gary Player Course #5 (Lake Geneva, WI; 354/310/283/257/255)

See summary above, under “Best Par 4 Hole” category.

3. Broadlands #17 (North Prairie, WI; 330/304/268/194)

I, personally, really enjoy a final two holes that seem manageable. Imagine your round is going okay, and after 16 holes you look at your scorecard and see you’re at an 80. If there was a par five and four left, you could be looking at a potentially high round.

At Broadlands, this is not the case. Broadlands finishes with a really nice drivable par four and a great par three. At just over 300 yards downhill and a gentle lean to the right, the seventeenth begs for low scores. The green is narrow, though, and slopes heavily from back to front.

Hole 17: Par 4 (330/304/268/194)

4. Fairways of Woodside #1 (Sussex, WI; 295/269/223)

Fairways of Woodside has probably the kindest opening hole around. At 269 yards from the white tee boxes, the green is very reachable. The main hazard is the large greenside trap to the left, while anything hit right can be pitched on fairly easily. The green on one rises from front to back, making for some tricky putts, though.

This is the hole I have had my two closest ever shots to a hole-in-one. Both were tap-in eagles under two feet – one I lost behind the pin and thought it dropped. That was my only ever “Disappointing eagle.”

Best Opening Hole:

1. Brown Deer #1 (Milwaukee, WI; Par 4: 461/447)

The first at Brown Deer is one of the most challenging par fours anywhere. At 447 yards from the white tees, this is a long par four that requires two solid shots to hit the green in regulation. The putting surface is protected by deep traps on all sides, adding extra difficulty to a hole that will test golfers as much as any other on the course.

Hole 1: Par 4 (461/447)

Runners-Up:

2. Blackwolf Run, River Course #1 (Kohler, WI; Par 5: 610/564/526/501/411)

The first hole on the River course runs adjacent to the Sheboygan River on the left, and is heavily mounded on the right. The tall fescue that lines the rough areas envelops anything errant, making search missions next to impossible.

This opening hole is a mid-length par five from the green tees at 526 yards, but plays considerably longer for lower handicappers. The green area is bunkered on the left and slopes toward the river.

Hole 1: Par 5 (610/564/526/501/411)

3. Morningstar #1 (Waukesha, WI; Par 5: 554/528/510/480/419)

The first hole at Morningstar is highly elevated from the tee boxes, with downward slanting hills on the left and the driving range right. The only good play is down the middle. As the initial fairway ends, the first falls to the remaining playing area at about 240 yards, leaving a long iron to a green nestled against a corner of the woods.

Hole 1: Par 5 (554/528/510/480/419)

4. Lawsonia, Woodlands #1 (Green Lake, WI; Par 5: 510/492/395/395)

This one is more along the lines of the toughest opening hole. At 492 yards from the blue tees, the first hole on the Woodlands course does not sound intimidating on the scorecard. In actuality, though, the tree line that lines the tee boxes to the left side makes this one of the toughest opening tee shots around for me. The tree line runs straight down the left side of the hole layout, and the only opening outside of the fairway on this first hole leads to bunkers in the right-side rough that when neared will have a completely impeded shot down the fairway by the tree line that then enters the right side of the hole. The first then cuts to the right toward the green area, probably too long for anyone to go for this green in two. For 492 yards, this hole presents a formidable challenge.

Hole 1: Par 5 (510/492/395/395)

 

Best Finishing Hole:

1. Erin Hills #18 (Erin, WI; Par 5: 660/637/620/539/506)

See summary above, under “Most Difficult Hole” category.


Runners-Up:

2. Blackwolf Run, River Course #18 (Kohler, WI; Par 4: 510/470/440/415/351)

A classic Pete Dye serpentine sand trap lines the entire left side of the hole, making for a hellish time if found off the tee. With a shared green with the also-marvelous eighteenth hole on the Meadow Valleys course, the green on eighteen here is massive and can lead to putts well over 100 feet if flown well long.

Perhaps the greatest part of this hole, even though it is a fantastic golf hole, is the view of the nostalgic looking clubhouse that towers above it built into the hillside.

Hole 18: Par 4 (510/470/440/415/351)

3. Horseshoe Bay #18 (Egg Harbor, WI; Par 5: 604/549/515/461)

This is one of the greatest par fives I have ever seen, let alone for a finishing hole. The fairway bends right, with a towering American flag to aim at in the distance. From there, the fairway runs downhill with an old-fashioned rock wall lining the right side. Green Bay looms in the distance, providing a picturesque finish to a wonderful round of golf.

Hole 18: Par 5 (604/549/515/461)

4. The Oaks #18 (Cottage Grove, WI; Par 5: 547/510/483/479/460)

The finishing hole at The Oaks is a challenging par five that finishes uphill over a large wasteland. The initial driving area is wide and forgiving, but going for this green in two requires an approach that is long and must carry a significant dead zone. The trees that front the left side of the approach area hide a forgiving bailout zone to the left that will leave you much better off than the trees to the right.

Hole 18: Par 5 (547/510/483/479/460)

5. Hawk’s Landing #18 (Verona, WI; Par 5: 520/496/434/410)

The “new” eighteenth hole at Hawk’s Landing is pretty simple off the tee, but finishes in an awfully challenging way. A huge pond fronts the green, which is sloped harshly toward the water and is almost impossible to read enough. Overlooked by “The Roost” clubhouse bar and restaurant, this is a wonderful finishing hole at a fantastic Madison-area facility.

Hole 18: Par 5 (520/496/434/410)

Honorable Mentions:

6. Castle at the Bay #18 (Arkdale, WI; Par 4: 462/441/430/417/305)

Hole 18: Par 4 (462/441/430/417/305)

7. The National at Fox Hills #18 (Mishicot, WI; Par 5: 570/539/525/521/479)

Hole 18: Par 5 (570/539/525/521/479)

8. Fire Ridge #18 (Grafton, WI; Par 4: 412/405/356/291)

Hole 18: Par 4 (412/405/356/291)

9. Grand Geneva, The Brute #18 (Lake Geneva, WI; Par 4: 464/437/335)

Hole 18: Par 4 (464/437/335)

Toughest Green:

1. Lawsonia, Woodlands #18 (Green Lake, WI; Par 5: 524/504/504/416)
The green on the eighteenth hole of the Woodlands course is not only challenging, it’s damn near impossible. It is so impossible, in fact, that the last time we played the Woodlands my friend, Mike, instituted a rule that nobody could more than two-putt. I was happy for this rule when my first putt, from under ten feet away, was tapped downhill and rolled twenty-five feet off the front side of the green.

Runners-Up:

2. Grand Geneva, The Brute #18 (Lake Geneva, WI; Par 4: 464/437/335)

A long par four bordered on the right side by a gigantic pond, the Brute finishes with a very challenging par four. The green is massive, and is crowned in the middle, making a central hole location almost impossible to hold.

Hole 18: Par 4 (464/437/335)

3. Currie Park #6 (Milwaukee, WI; Par 4: 391/368/350)

On a course with relatively level putting surfaces, the sixth is crowned highly in the back, with the slope falling quickly on all sides. With a middle-back hole location, holing out in one putt is next to impossible.

Hole 6: Par 4 (391/368/350)

4. Wild Rock #6 (Wisconsin Dells, WI; Par 5: 588/551/525/504/457)

See summary above, for “Best Par 5 Hole” category.

Favorite Driving Hole:
1. Naga-Waukee #14 (Pewaukee, WI; Par 5: 542/525/504)
The tee shot on the fourteenth at Naga-Waukee is risen highly above the receding fairway, and looks out over Pewaukee Lake. This is a beautiful golf hole that can be driven long.

Hole 14: Par 5 (542/525/504)
Runners-Up:2. Geneva National, Gary Player Course #16 (Lake Geneva, WI; Par 5: 556/534/514/462/429)

The view from the tee boxes on the sixteenth hole of the Player course is awesome, overlooking Lake Como with a wide open driving zone. Grip it and rip it!

Hole 16: Par 5 (556/534/514/462/429)
3. Hawk’s View, Como Crossings #10 (Lake Geneva, WI; Par 5 (600/550/539/515/507)
With a laterally running fairway over a huge wasteland, the tenth hole at Hawk’s View is an awesome par five, and the fairway is an almost given to hit – how much are you willing to risk to shave off some yardage on this hole? The more yardage you’re looking to take off, the further left you should aim.

Hole 10: Par 5 (600/550/539/515/507)
4. Fire Ridge #1 (Grafton, WI; Par 4: 444/410/390/354)
With a blind tee shot, the first hole at Fire Ridge crests at around 200 yards then drops downhill sharply and gently left towards the green. The drive on one presents a great opportunity to swing hard, especially with a helping wind.

Hole 1: Par 4 (444/410/390/354)

Toughest Sand Trap:

1. All of the sand traps at Erin Hills.
Hole 16: Par 3 (200/184/163/143/126)

Runners-Up:

2. The rest of the sand traps at Erin Hills.

Most Frequently Read Course Review:

1. The National at Fox Hills (Mishicot, WI)

Hole 17: Par 3 (169/137/122/116/61)

Runners-Up:

2. The Oaks (Cottage Grove, WI)

Hole 11: Par 4 (431/415/409/319/295)

3. Hawk’s Landing (Verona, WI)

Hole 9: Par 5 (587/550/533/469)

Most Significant Personal Milestone:

1. Stone Creek Golf Club (Oregon City, OR)

Hours after injuring my back (what I believe is the original reason for the three herniated discs in my neck), I went out to Stone Creek and shot even par on the front nine. I had never been able to break 39 all my life, and somehow went out and shot 36 on a challenging course. Was this day worth my two recent epidurals, and loads of neural and pain medication? As any true golfer would admit: Yes… As long as my back and neck heal soon, of course.

Hole 4: Par 5 (498/478/443/397)

Most Anticipated Wisconsin Golf Course for 2013:

1. Whistling Straits, Straits Course (Kohler, WI)
Well, another year went by without the opportunity to play the legendary Straits course. It was certainly not for a lack of effort, but dropping $360 plus caddy just is not currently in my pocket book’s vernacular. 

Whistling Straits, Straits Course for the PGA Championship

Runners-Up:

2. Troy Burne (Hudson, WI)

With nearly 100 massive sand traps on the course, one friend told me that Troy Burne is like Morningstar on crack. He obviously meant that as a compliment, which is how I took it.

Troy Burne

Best Out-of-State Course of the Year:

1. Chambers Bay (University Place, WA)

Hole 15: Par 3 (172/139/127/116/103)

Runners-Up:

2. Greywalls (Marquette, MI)

Hole 6: Par 3 (188/178/151/137/85)

3. TimberStone (Iron Mountain, MI)

Hole 9: Par 4 (471/448/405/359)

4. True Blue (Pawley’s Island, SC)

Hole 3: Par 3 (190/160/141/116/103)

5. Cog Hill No. 4 Dubsdread (Lemont, IL)

Hole 5: Par 5 (507/495/463/433/414)

Most Anticipated Golf Trip for 2013:

These are the ones I am currently working on – hopefully at least one or two of these will work out:
1. Bandon, Oregon for Bandon Dunes, Bandon Trail, Old MacDonald and Pacific Dunes

Pacific Dunes
I have a partner for the trip, now it’s just a matter of saving up the money!
Runners-Up:2. Michigan for Arcadia Bluffs, Treetops and Bay Harbor.

Arcadia Bluffs

3. Oregon for Pumpkin Ridge and Pronghorn.

Pronghorn Golf Club

4. Myrtle Beach for TPC Myrtle Beach, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, True Blue, etc.

Caledonia Golf & Fish Club

2012 Courses Played and Frequency:

* Denotes some league play
I am pretty sure that I am missing some rounds in here, but according to this list I played 52 different courses this season, for a total of 126 rounds of golf in 2012.
Fairways of Woodside* (18 rounds)
Kettle Hills* (15 rounds)
Brown Deer (10 rounds)
Silver Spring, Island (6 rounds)
Muskego Lakes (5 rounds)
Fire Ridge (4 rounds)
The Bull at Pinehurst Farms (4 rounds)
Washington County (4 rounds)
The Bog (3 rounds)
The Oaks (4 rounds)
Broadlands (2 rounds)
Castle at the Bay (2 rounds)
Geneva National, Palmer (2 rounds)
Hawk’s View, Como Crossings (2 rounds)
Ironwood (2 rounds)
Lawsonia, Woodlands (2 rounds)
Morningstar (2 rounds)
Shepherd’s Crook (IL, 2 rounds)
Sweetgrass (MI, 2 rounds)
ThunderHawk (IL, 2 rounds)
True Blue (SC, 2 rounds)
Big Fish (1 round)
Blackwolf Run, River Course (1 round)
Chambers Bay (WA, 1 round)
Cog Hill, No. 4 Dubsdread (IL, 1 round)
Coldwater Canyon (1 round)
Currie Park (1 round)
Edgewood, Oaks (1 round)
Erin Hills (1 round)
Fox Hills, The National (1 round)
Geneva National, Player Course (1 round)
Grand Geneva, The Brute (1 round)
Greywalls (MI, 1 round)
Harborside, Port (IL, 1 round)
Hawk’s Landing (1 round)
Hawk’s View, Barn Hollow (1 round)
Heritage Club (SC, 1 round)
Horseshoe Bay (1 round)
Lawsonia, Links (1 round)
Missing Links (1 round)
Naga-Waukee (1 round)
New Berlin Hills (1 round)
River Club (SC, 1 round)
SentryWorld (1 round)
Stone Creek (OR, 1 round)
Timberstone (MI, 1 round)
Tradition Club (SC, 1 round)
University Ridge (1 round)
Wanaki (1 round)
Whispering Springs (1 round)
Wild Rock (1 round)
Woods Family Executive Course (1 round)

It is with tremendous optimism that I look forward to the 2013 Wisconsin golf season. With the addition of several heated driving ranges in the area (notably, New Berlin Golf Center and Missing Links, in Mequon), it has become much easier these days to keep working on my swing, regardless of the Wisconsin winter. I finished last season with a handicap of 11.1, and am hoping to see that starting to drop by April or May.

Despite all of the work I have put in so far on some off-season golf trips, nothing has worked out yet, so this is a plea to my friends to actually commit to a trip and let’s make it happen – it’s January 14 already!
In other news, I am also hoping to join a tour this year – so far I have considered the GC Am Tour and Net Partners. If you have played in either of these, please email me at wiscosportsaddict@gmail.com, or post a comment on here, and let me know what you think of them.
I hope you are all having a safe and enjoyable off-season, and look forward to hopefully seeing you on the links come Spring-time. I thank you all for your readership of my blog, and hope that you will continue coming back for my course reviews and [attempted] creative writing year-round.
Your friend,
Paul

7 comments on “2012 Wrap-Up: The Wisconsin Golf Season in Review

  1. I got some TP3s at Golf Galaxy's Christmas event back in December. They were 2 for $45. I work within 3 miles of Nevada Bob's/Golf Galaxy and Dicks on the west side of Madison. Live in Beaver Dam. Member at BDCC. Play Old Hickory a couple times per year and play Rock River Hills in Horicon a couple times per year. I see that Srixon is coming out with a new ball on Feb 15. My ball of choice is the Z Star XV with Pro V1x right there if the price is ever right.
    I am going to get Medium size Winn Dri Tac grips I think.

    Like

  2. I am the same way, Erich.

    I have been swinging 6I and less in my living room, and this weekend had all my clubs re-gripped with Lamkin Crosslines, picked up a couple dozen TaylorMade Pentas (GolfSmith has a deal going for 2 dozen/$50 for the TP3's), and then found the first heated range that was too cold for me to hit on – it was seven degrees out, though, which I probably should have considered beforehand.

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  3. Not sure how I posted as anonymous, but I was thrilled to find this blog and figured based on the courses you played, you would appreciate Hunter's Glen. Our tastes in courses appear to be similar as Wild Rock and TimberStone are two of my favorite. I'm so ready for spring so I can hit on an actual course again.

    Cheers,
    Erich

    Like

  4. Thanks for the post! I hadn't heard of Hunter's Glen (I've never been to Crivitz before), but looked it up in Google Imagine Search and found some really good looking photos. I'm always up for checking out a new golf course, and love fast greens, so thanks for the recommendation!

    Like

  5. Thanks, Kris! I checked out your post on Stillwater and definitely want to play it. That's the one right off the highway after passing through Hudson / on the way to the Cities, right?

    My little sister and her husband live in Minneapolis, so I'm hoping to play Troy Byrne on the way, followed by Stillwater and whatever other highly recommended course(s) I can get on. I will make sure to let you know ahead of time, and yeah it would be great if you could join for a round or two!

    Likewise, if you're ever looking to head our way for some golf, let me know ahead of time, too. I'll be happy to do my best to set up some good tee times and join for what I can.

    Unfortunately, Bandon is starting to look pretty unlikely, but I am still hopeful for it happening in 2013. Somehow.

    Like

  6. Wow Paul, that is a crazy great post recapping your year. Holy cow too on 126 rounds for the year!!!

    Your post makes me want to take a few road trips to Wisconsin. I really want to check out Erin Hills, and of course the Kohler courses. The UP of Michigan looks like a great trip also. Maybe I could find a way to convince the wife for a long road trip?

    I can't say how jealous I am about your trip to Chambers Bay and the planned trip to Bandon Dunes. 2 places at the top of the bucket list.

    Finally, Troy Burne is on my to-do list this year too. If you make it out that way I would recommend you also come just a little further west to Stoneridge in Stillwater (http://kristaziogolf.blogspot.com/2012/09/playing-stoneridge-golf-club.html). I played it this year and it is now my favorite course in the Minneapolis metro area. If you do get out this way let me know, maybe I could pair up with you and get a round in.

    Again, excellent review.

    Like

  7. Very nice blog post. I golfed 2 rounds at TimberStone this year. Unfortunately the weather was not great. If you get up that direction again, stop and play 18 at Hunter's Glen in Crivitz. You will be pleasantly surprised. I work near Hawk's Landing and the greens this summer at Hunter's Glen were like lightning. It is lightly played so usually is in great shape.

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