I cannot believe it has taken me more than five years to post about the Island course at Silver Spring Country Club! There are few courses I have played more throughout the years than the Island, and none that I have played more events at.
My friend, Nick, holds an annual 2-man scramble on the Island course, and for this year’s event my friend, Jeff, and I teamed up to play for the championship. We did well, taking second place but finishing a few shots back of the perennial winners.
The Island is a fun course with a few quirks. The signature island hole is really pretty and nicely done, for example, but the tees are always set up in the 90-110 yard range, which can be a pretty awkward distance (the island is probably a bit too small and undulating to set up between the 174- and 129-yard distances shown on the scorecard).
I enjoy that hole, though, and I enjoy playing the Island course, in general.
Aptly considered “The public’s country club,” Silver Spring gets a lot of play. I used to play it on a weekly basis after work, in fact, before I joined North Hills Country Club. I like the course, but the 5:00 and after time frame on weekdays is dominated by leagues and I remember being bogged down by three-hour death marches to get in nine holes before the sun went down.
The Island course starts out with a highly elevated tee shot on a downhill par four with water left and a fairway that bends slightly toward the right. The green is elevated, and the tree area right of the fairway is sloped heavily from right to left, which tends to be a popular spot for errant tee balls.
The second hole is a solid test of golf. The green is a small target, and the hole has good length at 389/377 sharply uphill. This is a really tough green to hit, elevated I would think thirty feet or more above the rest of the fairway.
The third hole is a short dogleg left par four. Hit whatever club will get you over the left-side fairway trap, whether that’s driver or less. The approach from there should be pretty stress-free, with less than 100 yards in to a small green fronted on the right side by a sand trap.
The fourth hole on the Island course is a mid-to-long-range par three, fronted by sand and with fall-offs left, long and right of the putting surface. This green is sloped hard from back to front, so finding a way to have an uphill putt is huge.
The fifth is a long par five, over 550 yards with a dogleg left off the tee. I have always found this to be a tough driving hole – it’s very easy to go too far left and be faced with an awful recovery shot, or right and be lost in the woods.
With a decent drive, the second shot is bombs away to a wide open fairway in order to set up a shorter and more manageable approach.
With a wide open fairway and nothing to worry about off the tee, the sixth is a 406/395-yard par four with a tough green. Sand traps are on the left and right sides of this massive green complex, and the massive slopes make two-putting a major challenge.
The back tees on seven are highly elevated and can make for a semi-stressful tee shot, given out-of-bounds right and a tree line left. The fairway runs from right to left, and the second shot on this 600-yard beast is best framed by a bunker on the right side of the fairway that will set up around a 100-yard approach.
I apologize that I missed the front end of this hole – it hit me after our tee shots on the eighth hole and so I snapped this one of the backside of the seventh hole’s green:
The eighth is the signature island hole at Silver Spring Country Club. As I mentioned earlier, the distances on eight tend to be awkward, and the island green is very small from front-to-back and falls off on all sides to the water.
As an interesting aside, I’ve heard that the bass fishing in this pond is phenomenal.
The ninth is a tough finishing hole for the front nine. The tee shot carries a river and jets straight uphill. The green is mostly blind from the fairway, and has to be approached with a highly lofted shot.
Like the eighth green, the putting surface on nine is really short and very easy to fly over. Anything past the pin will require great touch to get anywhere near the hole.
The tenth is a really fun par three. The tee boxes are so highly elevated that even seeing the entire green can be a challenge from the back tees and leads to a two- or three-club difference.
Chances are wherever a well-hit tee shot lands is where it will stay – I have had my ball bury completely on this green before, in fact, and having it run out on the green is unlikely considering the long fall it will face dropping out of the sky.
To me, the par four eleventh is the hardest hole on the Island course. A river and trees line the left side of the fairway, and the river then cuts through the fairway at around 230-240 yards. I have hit driver over this river a number of times, but hitting less than driver here is obviously the smart play.
While hitting less than driver is the smart way to go, it leaves a long and uphill approach shot to a well risen green.
The twelfth plays a lot like the third hole, with a fairway bunker on the left side of the fairway making for a great target off the tee to a dogleg left par four.
Do not overcook the tee drive on this hole, as a pond creeps up almost to the treeline past the left side of the fairway.
The thirteenth is another brutally long par five, and features all kinds of awkward distances. Along the outskirts of the course’s property line, the right side of this hole is out of bounds while a grove of trees frames the left side of the driving zone.
The second shot plays toward a massive pond that is mostly blind from the fairway. Check it out before hitting your setup shot, though, as carrying it might mean a 250-300-yard shot!
Laying up to the pond will leave about 150 yards in over water to a small green that is sloped hard from left to right.
I apparently left my camera on the thirteenth hole tee box, so I unfortunately did not get any pictures of the par four fourteenth (long, challenging par three) or the teeing area on fifteen (long, extremely challenging dogleg left par four).
Fortunately, my friends in the group behind us found my camera and snapped this photo of Jeff and me on the fifteenth fairway. You’re welcome for not showing the other pictures they took with it.
The long approach on the dogleg left par four fifteenth hole on the Island course – here a good drive left us 205 yards in:
The sixteenth is a tricky par four hole. The fairway bends hard from left to right, which makes you think a high fade over the corner will leave a great approach shot. Hitting that shot tends to go too far over the fairway, though, and results in an uphill shot through a ton of trees.
Unless looking to cut off a ton of the fairway bend, hitting hybrid or long iron up the fairway to the bend is probably the smart move here.
Seventeen is one of the hardest driving holes on the course. The tee shot looks a lot like the one on five, but is much more demanding as anything left of center will find the river that surrounds the driving zone of the eleventh hole.
I think all four of us hit the water on seventeen during our round. The fun doesn’t end there, though, as water then fronts this postage stamp green and makes laying up on the second shot a must.
The eighteenth is kind of a strange hole, and tremendously challenging for a finishing hole. The tee shot here is straight uphill through trees to a dogleg right fairway that is not long enough to keep drives in the short grass.
A high and really long fade would be a great play here, while anything else will lead to a 200-plus yard approach shot to one of the most canted greens on the course that runs fast from back to front.
In the Waukesha County area, only Ironwood Golf Course hosts more charity and corporate events than Silver Spring Country Club, and it’s probably a really close competition.
I always enjoy the Island course at Silver Spring as long as I have a full foursome and plenty of time to spend on the course.
Location: Menomonee Falls, WI
Yardage: Black-6912, Silver-6481, Gold-5567
Slope/Rating: Black-128/73.1, Silver-126/71.8, Gold-119/67.7
Weekend Rates: $47.50 (including cart)