Golf Course Review: The Club at Strawberry Creek

Host of the 2012 Wisconsin State Amateur tournament, The Club at Strawberry Creek has quickly become one of Wisconsin’s premier private golf clubs.

Co-owned by former Chicago Bears lineman, Jay Hilgenberg, and developer Barry Shiffman, The Club at Strawberry Creek is a comfortable distance from the Illinois border, and the Illini presence is certainly felt onsite. During our visit, for example, there were cars next to mine that had bumper stickers for the Blackhawks, White Sox and Bears.

This proximity, about seven miles from the Wisconsin/Illinois border, should certainly help with membership in being able to draw from both northeastern Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin.

Rick Jacobson’s award-winning course opened in 2006, was available for public play until 2010, and has been fully private ever since.

Over the past four years, I had tried calling and emailing Strawberry Creek a number of times to check it out, and was told each time that non-members are not allowed without being invited by a member. Fortunately for me, my good friend Mandy’s dad happens to be a member and her husband/my friend, Jim, got him to invite me for a round this past June. To say I was excited to finally play Strawberry Creek would be a huge understatement!

Strawberry Creek’s beautiful physical property, including two swimming pools and a 38,000 square foot clubhouse with numerous amenities (fitness center, tennis, basketball, spa, dining, awesome locker rooms, etc.) is the newest and one of the most upscale in Wisconsin.

Located 30 miles south of Milwaukee, Strawberry Creek’s reputation built slowly at first, but the buzz over this gem picked up quickly when it was chosen to host the 2012 Wisconsin State Amateur, probably each season’s premier non-PGA event.

A new-age links-style layout, Strawberry Creek was originally part of the next door Thompson’s Strawberry Farm, and features its native grasses, streams and hills. The result is a gorgeous and playable course that features a terrific variety of par threes, fours and fives.

At 7,113 yards from the tips, it is ideally designed for tournament action, but also plays comfortably from the gold and blue tees for non-scratch golfers.

The first of their par fours is a longer one, at 411 yards from the gold tees. The fairway is narrow but runs hard, and the best drive here is to the right side of the fairway to set up an easier approach to a two-tiered green.

Hole 1: Par 4 (446/411/377/343/319)

The shortest par five on the course, the second hole is a great birdie opportunity. The fairway bends to the right, with sand traps littering that side of the driving area.
The flight zone in, if going for two, requires a lot of carry to especially keep out of the traps on the left side.

Hole 2: Par 5 (518/492/466/445/429)
Hole 2: Par 5 (518/492/466/445/429)

A mid-range par four at 375 yards from the gold tees, the third hole features an intimidating tee shot with sand traps to both the left and right sides of the driving zone. The green is highly elevated, requiring an extra club or all flight to reach it.

Hole 3: Par 4 (405/375/341/309/278)

For a par three, the fourth hole does not look overly wicked from the tees, but this is one of the most extreme greens I have seen in a while. The right side drops off severely, and sharp ridges on the putting surface keep this from being your run-of-the-mill 131-yard par three.

Hole 4: Par 3 (147/131/115/100/90)

With tall berms left of the fairway, the tendency on five would be to favor the right side of the fairway, toward the hidden fairway bunkers on that shoulder. The fairway leans gently left on this long, 436-yard par four, setting up a long approach to a green that is protected on the right by a deep green-side bunker.

Hole 5: Par 4 (467/436/404/371/321)

The sixth is a fun, drivable par four with a false front and several traps to keep drives from running on. The left side of the fairway is heavily sanded, and a central fairway bunker requires the tee shot to carry a significant distance.

Hole 6: Par 4 (299/277/252/232/218)

A large pond guards the left side of the fairway on seven, which runs downhill and left off the tee. At 513 yards from the gold tees, this is not an overly long par five, but the green complex is small and tricky, with a deep chasm front-left and a heavy slope running from the front-left to the back-right.

Hole 7: Par 5 (546/513/476/441/409)

From elevated tees, the par three eighth is an intimidating one-shotter with water left and beyond the flight zone. The green is large and receptive, but risen to make hitting the green on the fly a necessity.
Hole 8: Par 3 (189/176/155/131/111)

My favorite of the par fours at Strawberry Creek, the ninth is a great strategic hole to end the front nine. The driving area is wide, and the right side of the fairway is definitely preferable to set up an approach that will not directly take on the trees that separate the initial fairway from the approach one.
With a heavily elevated green complex, this is another hole that requires a high approach to hold the green – anything short will likely stay short given its false front.

Hole 9: Par 4 (468/428/398/367/318)
Hole 9: Par 4 (468/428/398/367/318)

Hole 9: Par 4 (468/428/398/367/318)

The back nine at The Club at Strawberry Creek is a very fun nine holes! Beginning with a long par four at 443 yards from the golds, a pond defends the left side of the fairway from just in front of the tees to just in front of the green. The sand trap on the right side of the fairway is about 280 yards from the gold tees, so the water is really the hazard to avoid most.
The fairway runs hard toward the green, which approaches can be run on to.

Hole 10: Par 4 (466/443/407/348/325)

With a creek running laterally through the middle of the fairway on eleven, the second shot is probably the most important one on this par five. The right side is mounded, and the ideal tee shot will hug that side of the fairway.
Water is found right of the green, and a tricky little green-side bunker is found just short of the putting complex. Like with many holes at Strawberry Creek, runoff areas are found all around this green (as seen in the third picture, below):

Hole 11: Par 5 (545/514/473/436/386)
Hole 11: Par 5 (545/514/473/436/386)
Hole 11: Par 5 (545/514/473/436/386)

Twelve is an awesome par three, with an elevated green fronted by traps and a massive false front that falls off right and toward the central pond.

Hole 12: Par 3 (221/207/191/175/160)
A 410-yard par four, the tee shot on thirteen drives over water and climbs slightly uphill and hard to the right.
Hole 13: Par 4 (426/410/384/351/312)

Fourteen is a truly spectacular par five, with a heavily sloped fairway that will propel tee shots either bounding forward, or falling off sharply to the right.
Heading green-ward, tall grasses and a marshland encroach on the right side of the fairway, and the green is  protected to the right by sand.
All in all, this is my favorite hole on the entire course.

Hole 14: Par 5 (544/518/481/449/422)

Hole 14: Par 5 (544/518/481/449/422)

A deceptively difficult par three, fifteen plays longer than its distance implies. With tee boxes that line up from sideways to the fairway and green complex, the front-right of the green falls off to a collection area, while the front-left is protected by a green-side bunker.

Hole 15: Par 3 (229/207/203/198/108)

Hole 15: Par 3 (229/207/203/198/108)

Sixteen requires two careful shots, as the driving area is blind and runs downhill and to the right toward a large pond. The pond then runs the length of the right side of the fairway to the green, making the left side of the green the best target.

Hole 16: Par 4 (422/399/365/331/306)
Hole 16: Par 4 (422/399/365/331/306)

The second of Strawberry Creek’s drivable par fours, seventeen is a really well designed short hole. The responsible play is, of course, to lay up before the sand traps and hit a controlled wedge in, but what fun is that? A central pot bunker guards the front of the green, and the putting surface slopes heavily from the back to the front.
As a side note, I loved the outfield-like mowing patterns on this hole, nine and fourteen.

Hole 17: Par 4 (315/290/265/246/231)

At 431 yards from the gold tee box, eighteen is a very challenging par four to finish the back nine. With the elegant clubhouse providing a backdrop to the hole, the right side of the fairway will provide the most open and shortest approach, which is destined to be long on this brute of a finishing hole.
A large waste bunker resides along the right side of the green, which is heavily sloped and has runoff areas both left and long.

Hole 18: Par 4 (460/431/404/375/355)

The Club at Strawberry Creek has an absolutely first-rate golf course with premium conditions: The greens are fast and true, and the fairways and squared-off tee boxes are meticulously cared for. Strawberry Creek’s reputation for providing one of the finest private club golf experiences in Wisconsin is well deserved.

Course Wrap-Up:
Location; Kenosha, WI
Yardage: Black-7113, Gold-6658, Blue-6157, White-5648, Green-5098
Slope/Rating: Black-136/74.8, Gold-131/72.8, Blue-126/70.5, White-122/68.2, Green-121/70.1
Par: 72
Weekend Rates: N/A (private club)

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5 thoughts on “Golf Course Review: The Club at Strawberry Creek

  1. This post has been getting a ton of hits day (6/18/15) – members from Strawberry Creek are sending it around, I’m assuming? What’s the membership/experience like there?

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