Times were when November came to Wisconsin, the golf season was over and every golfer in the state’s swing that they worked so hard on during the season went dormant to be re-discovered the following April.
Times were golf clubs were put in the garage, or storage, and went entirely unused for the exception of some light chipping and putting on living room carpets.
Times were the only way to hit a full shot during the winter was to take an expensive golf trip down south, or out west.
These days, Wisconsin golfers have all kinds of options to keep their swings warm during the frigid Midwest winter. It took me until last February to discover it, but since I did my off-season has been effectively reduced significantly, now feeding my golf addiction all twelve months out of the year.
Last February, I discovered outdoor heated driving ranges, and specifically the state’s first and premiere year-round, all-weather practice facility at Missing Links, in Mequon.
Missing Links, featuring radiant heaters at each driving bay, features a full-length range with target greens for hitting every club in your bag. It also has one of the state’s best, and only Jack Nicklaus signature designed par three course, and is home to one of Wisconsin’s most well-respected and heavily awarded PGA training professionals, Tim Grogan.
Tim is a two time Wisconsin Teacher of the Year (named by the Golf Course Owners of Wisconsin), was the 2009 Wisconsin PGA Professional Teacher of the Year, coached the Marquette University golf team for 19 years (including a Big East conference championship and several Coach of the Year honors), has been named to Golf Digest’s Best Instructor list, and is now available for instruction year-round at either the Missing Links location or at his new Third Ward training center, Fore Milwaukee.
Fore Milwaukee is “Fore” learning, “Fore” leisure, “Fore” fun, “Fore” convenience, “Fore” a beer while watching the game in its bar and lounge area, and all “Fore” Milwaukee and its golf enthusiasts, whether beginners or golf nuts like us.
The 80ft x 80ft facility at 252 East Menomonee Street has nine hitting bays with 12ft tall ceilings, allowing for full shots with all clubs. State of the art video resources allow for personal training by Tim (with recorded lessons that are sent directly to your email afterwards), and Fore Milwaukee provides a relaxing environment and bar/lounge area that is now open for happy hours from 8-11 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Any avid golfer will also enjoy chatting with local golfbartender expert, Chris Perlman, who is quite possibly as avid a player and course guru as I have found.
An in-house putting green is provided for short-game practice, and features the products and expertise of the legendary Ted Gallina, who has worked with professionals and amateurs alike on the one stroke that makes up 45 percent of all shots during a round of golf.
Most notably, Zach Johnson has used the standard $110.00 SeeMore putter (available for purchase on site) to win nine PGA events, including The Masters. RifleScope technology trains players to focus on the fundamentals of putting, leading to improved consistency in both distance control and target lines.
Interestingly, Tuesday night’s Swing Fix with Michael Breed focused on the same key putting fundamental: Keep the putter face level to the ground throughout the stroke to maintain the angle of contact and reduce opening and closing the face while rotating hands during the forward motion. This was sited as the number one thing Tiger Woods has been working on in his short game, and he’s pretty good. In fact, this new focus paid huge dividends during his run-away victory at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines this past weekend.
Fore Milwaukee is the only training facility in downtown Milwaukee, and is sure to be a popular spot for golfers of all kinds, whether to hit a bucket of balls, receive lessons from one of the state’s most well-respected teaching professionals, or just to have a beer and play a game or two of pool with friends.
The one thing missing at Fore Milwaukee at this point is golf simulators, which are on order and expected to arrive soon.
Very few people seem to know about all the options we have for keeping our golf addictions alive during the off-season, so I have taken the liberty to provide a more comprehensive list of these training centers in the Milwaukee area.
Off of Highway 16 and Brown Street is the brand new Wisconsin Indoor Golf Center. About a month in to existence, I visited the WIGC last weekend to find a bustling training center with three simulators, five hitting bays and the potential addition of an elevated practice green complete with a course-like sand trap. They also have an OptiShot system available for their hitting bays, which was a cool experience to finally check out (we’ve all seen the commercials on Golf Channel, of course).
I am told simulators these days are actually quite accurate for showing shot distance, accuracy and shaping, and indeed my attempted draws showed to draw (okay, hook), and my attempted fades did fade. But, not only do simulators allow for full shot-making, but also keep us in the habit of thinking about course management.
Missing Links was the original year-round outdoor practice facility in Wisconsin, and has been utilized for years by college and high school golf teams. During the regular season, Missing Links is a fantastic nine-hole par three course designed by Jack Nicklaus, which I played this past February and absolutely loved. Missing Links has a great pro shop with equipment and club-fitting, and of course is the home of PGA Professional Tim Grogan.
The Moorland Road Golf Center has been a popular place for me this off-season, as the most centrally located full-distance range to meet friends at in the Milwaukee area (for me, being in Menomonee Falls, and most of my friends being either in the Waukesha or downtown Milwaukee area). The MRGC has 16 covered, heated hitting bays, and eleven bent grass target greens, and also sells beer and light food. One of my favorite aspects of the MRGC are the small picnic tables situated behind the hitting bays, which provide a perfect spot to set up my camera to record my swing for later analysis.
Gone are the days of re-finding your swing after the snow finally clears in March or April. Here at last is the promise of year-long practice and improvement. So take advantage of the great golf facilities the Milwaukee area now has to offer. I know I will.