In a very discussion-intended way (imagine being on GolfWRX’s course forums pages), I think it’s fun to rank courses and holes in a way that lays out my reasons, and asks users to respond in the way of both agreement and disagreement.
For my list of the state of Wisconsin’s toughest par threes, I decided to lay them out as follows, each in their own post:
- The Short Holes: < 160 yards from the first tees in
- The Mid-Range Par 3’s: 160-205 yards from the first tees in
- The Beast Par 3’s: 205+ yards from the first tees in
The Mid-Range Holes (160-205 yards from the first tees in):
1. Pine Hills Country Club #5 (195/182/175/167/165):
It is not enough that the fifth at Pine Hills is a visually intimidating tee shot, but it also features one of the largest, most undulating green complexes on the entire course. A massive ridge runs laterally through the green’s surface, and a swale is created toward the middle/back-left.
The fifth is on the border of mid-range and long par threes – the uphill tee shot adds at least one to club selection.
2. Blackwolf Run, River #4 (219/195/185/146/117):
Like most holes on the River course, this par three at Blackwolf Run takes guts. From the tee, it appears you have a 200-yard tee shot with about five yards of room to miss from left-to-right. In actuality, it’s more like fifteen.
Just don’t miss right in to Swan Lake, or left in to the fescue. Other than that, nothing to worry about.
3. Whistling Straits, Irish #11 (208/193/177/169/125):
The eleventh on the Irish course is a great golf hole. With a tremendously long green, there is very little room to miss from left to right without being in sand or some other precarious situation. The wind typically howls on this hole and the others that abut the Straits course and Lake Michigan, playing havoc with club selection.
4. Wild Rock #15 (179/166/134/130/118):
One of my favorite golf holes in the entire state of Wisconsin, the fifteenth at Wild Rock can play as easily or challenging as you want it to. The tee box shown here has more of a direct line toward the green, while the others are set to the right of it with longer carries directly over the quarry.
5. The Bull #6 (193/183/173/163/153):
Part of a great and challenging stretch of holes on The Bull at Pinehurst Farms, the sixth plays over a ravine that protects the green from the front and left side.
6. Washington County #14 (197/175/147/92):
A perpetual tournament course for the Wisconsin State Golf Association (and one of the top 40 county courses in the country), chances are that anyone who plays competitive golf in Wisconsin has gotten to this golf hole and stood over the ball thinking: “Don’t miss left.”
The small pond left pushes tee shots right, which is the right miss, but this long green from front to back provides little relief as it slopes left toward water.
7. North Hills Country Club #7 (183/167/152/125):
With a new, deeper tee box added in 2015, the seventh at North Hills is no pushover from start to finish. About a one-club difference from the back tee boxes, and two from from the lower ones, the seventh requires a climb up the steep hill beyond the Menomonee River, and then a prayer to be on the right portion of the green.
Legend has it that Ben Hogan was tied for the lead in a 1940’s tournament at North Hills when he got to the seventh. His putt for bogey broke opposite of his read, leading to a three-putt and losing the tournament by one stroke. At the dinner and party that night, he guaranteed people that putt would never break that way again. A crowd ventured out to the [then sixteenth] green with drinks and lanterns, and putt after putt broke the same way. For probably the largest green on the course, it’s also very tricky.
8. Bishop’s Bay Country Club #17 (217/193/171/134):
This hole destroyed me in last year’s WSGA Mid-Amateur event, scoring a seven during one round and an eight on the other.
Wind plays a factor at all times at Bishop’s Bay, and the main miss is left to stay as far away from the pond as possible.
9. Geneva National, Palmer #16 (218/204/177/156/141):
With Lake Como on the horizon, this 200-yard par three asks for a long iron or hybrid, and penalizes anything left or right with sand while anything long is likely to find the lake.
10. Westmoor Country Club #14 (184/167/158/153):
The fourteenth at Westmoor seems to always play dead in to the wind. While it shows 184 or 167 from the tees, it seems to always play 200-plus with water in front (which can be completely ignored) as well as right to the shared green on ten.
The safest play here is toward the sand traps left of the green.
11. Fire Ridge #8 (197/190/169/137):
The eighth at Fire Ridge seems to always play straight in to the wind. From the highest point of the course’s property, the small trap front-left begs golfers to club up while anything long is gone in to the woods beyond the green complex.
12. Castle at the Bay #3 (194/170/164/160/158):
A replica of the sixteenth hole at Augusta, the third at Northern Bay plays over a long pond to a heavily canted green from back to front. While flying the water is mission A, still staying below has got to be mission B.
Especially finding the traps above the hole will make for an almost impossible par on this mid-length one-shotter.
13. University Ridge #3 (242/174/170/135):
Playing at 242 yards from the tips, the third at U-Ridge has one of the widest greens in the state of Wisconsin. The tee shot has to carry a vast wasteland and bunkers front-left.
14. Hawks Landing #17 (200/177/157/137)
One of the best designed mid-range par threes in the area, the fourth at Hawk’s Landing requires a perfectly struck tee shot to carry the front traps and stay on the right portion of the green.
15. Morningstar #14 (222/207/169/159/136):
Downhill all the way, the pond right and sand traps long make the fourteenth at Morningstar a par three that requires perfect club selection for any chance at par.
16. Fox Hills, National #11 (173/158/148/141/114):
All carry over water, the eleventh on the National course at Fox Hills in Mishicot has Pete Dye-like railroad ties protecting the front of the green area, followed by sand and a well-contoured green.
17. Kettle Moraine #7 (178/168/153):
A tremendous false front and trees right work in harmony with this mid-range par three at Kettle Moraine Golf Course to create an incredibly challenging par three hole.
18. The Bog #13 (195/175/157/142/110):
Carrying a wasteland, this par three on one of the most popular tournament courses in the state of Wisconsin plays slightly uphill and has traps front, left and long. On one of the highest points on the property, wind can play a key factor on the thirteenth.