Pine Hills Country Club: Big Things on the Horizon

GolfCourseArchitecture.net’s Richard Humphreys posted an article last month about upcoming renovations at one of my favorite golf courses, Pine Hills Country Club in Sheboygan.

Link to article:
Drew Rogers Begins Work at ‘Extraordinary’ Pine Hills in Wisconsin

USGCA Architect Drew Rogers, also on the back end of a terrific restoration project at the Donald Ross designed Kenosha Country Club, is partnering with Pine Hills to help enact a series of small projects they anticipate will have long-lasting positive impacts.

Tree removal, bunker placements, tee boxes, drainage and green surrounds are all on the docket to be addressed.

Some lighter aspects of the renovation work have begun, and deforestation is set to begin this Fall on the course’s closing hole. Rogers’ plans for the 18th should take it from being Pine Hills’ weakest hole to potentially being one of its best (a bold statement on a property like PHCC!).

The 18th already has an excellent green complex, but its current layout doesn’t fit the rest of the course – especially to end the round. As it is, the 18th features a tight, restrictive right-to-left tee shot between trees that leaves a mid-iron approach to a really tough, elevated green.

It’s a very penal hole on a course that’s much better characterized as fun and imaginative.

By removing the woods inside the dogleg, repositioning the tees and making other small adjustments, the new 18th will open up views of a deep hillside ridge that lines the hole’s entire left border and in effect creates a thrilling right-to-left risk/reward opportunity.

This new Cape Hole (a CB Macdonald template design that originated at the National Golf Links of America) will urge players to bite off as much as they can of the ridge to leave a shorter approach shot to the green.

Like the rest of the course, it will be beautiful and dramatic – adjectives more befitting a great finishing hole than penal and restrictive.

Pine Hills’ / Drew Rogers’ plans for the renovated 18th at Pine Hills:

Plans for renovating the 18th hole at Pine Hills, to be started this Fall
(Graphic by Drew Rogers and courtesy of Pine Hills Country Club)

The new Cape will become the second half of a unique and dynamic back-to-back risk/reward left-to-right then right-to-left combination of holes.

While the 17th requires a risky faded tee shot to leave wedge in, the 18th will set up for a draw. Both will demand execution and will put golf balls, and high scores, in jeopardy.

Pine Hills is already a really special golf course, and I’ve flip-flopped on it and Milwaukee being my number one private course in the state for years, to the point that I basically consider them 1-A and 1-B.

So what will high-impact renovations mean to a course that’s already as ‘extraordinary’ as Pine Hills?

For one thing, I think we’ll finally start hearing about this exceptional 92-year-old Sheboygan golf course outside of post-round discussions at the bar or fire pit. I think it should also get a shot in the arm from golfers traveling to Sheboygan for next year’s 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.

But will these changes and more attention be the catalyst that elevates the club toward the state and national notoriety a course of its caliber deserves?

I’ll examine that in an upcoming post, including where I think Pine Hills can and should fit in to state and national rankings as well as how I think it compares to and against Wisconsin’s perennially top ranked private club, Milwaukee CC.

3 comments on “Pine Hills Country Club: Big Things on the Horizon

  1. I got to play this course in the 2018 State Mid-Am. I really enjoyed the course and couldn’t believe I didn’t know more about it before that. I started creating it for the JNPG game last year and one of the big reasons besides that it’s a great course was actually to see the potential of hole 18 without those trees on the inside of the dogleg. It seems like there are a lot of courses where just taking some trees down turns the worst hole into one of the best holes. Glad to see Pine Hills recognizes that here.

    Here’s a couple renders of what 18 might look like without the trees inside the dogleg. The tees and fairway lines are the same as the original as I didn’t think of messing around with that.


    I don’t know if I’ll finish this as a course for the game but it is on a fun piece of land play around with. I see the potential for some other interesting tweaks on 11 and 15.

    Liked by 1 person

    • These renderings are awesome, Brian, and great thinking on your part about the tree removal on 18. You weren’t alone there.

      JNPG is the course creator for SkyTrak simulators, right?

      I’m guessing the finished product will look a bit more rugged – anything below the fairway in the dogleg will probably (?) be grown out / wild to keep players from looking for balls… I’m envisioning it almost like a short version of the 5th hole at The Bull.

      Thank you for sharing!

      Like

      • No problem, happy to share since I had it sitting here on my computer already.

        SkyTrak actually has a bunch of different options and JNPG was one of them but I think as of Aug. 1 JNPG is no longer available unfortunately. Trackman bought out the company that made JNPG, further developed it for their simulator product, and now made it exclusive to their hardware. A PC game still exists using the software though.

        I’m sure it will not look like cut rough, that is just my default texture where I don’t have any shapes drawn. Besides keeping players from looking for balls, it’s awfully hard to mow on the side of that hill all the time. 🙂 I’d have that play as a lateral hazard. If this was a professional project I would put all of those visual details in including long grass and hazard stakes but this was just something I threw together to play around with for fun last year. I love looking at the possibilities of a piece of land for interesting golf holes and then playing those possibilities out on a computer.

        On 15 I made a second fairway right of the hazard that runs along the right of the current fairway. That sort of turns it into a lay up right or go for it left off the tee decision. A little bit like a mirror image of 17 actually except a little longer and without the elevated tee and green. Some trees would have to come down on the right for this to work. Pushing the tee back and to the right a little more makes the lay up option make more sense as well. It’s not quite as easy or obvious of a change as on 18.

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