Early last fall, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to play Oneida Golf and Country Club. Oneida is a golden age parkland design with beautiful Duck Creek weaving its way through a wooded, rolling property. A recent restoration of the green complexes has yielded very interesting, old school green contours and bunkering, setting up for very strategic play. With excellent conditions, strategy, and scenery, as well as an outstanding collection of par 3’s, this was a highly memorable experience and is one of the very best private tracks in the state.
Oneida Golf and Country Club
Green Bay, WI
Architects: Dorr Packard and Stanley Pelcher
Par 72; 6686/6425/5696/5250/4794 Yards
Designed by Dorr Packard and Stanley Pelcher, Oneida was built on a 400 acre property on the southwest side of Green Bay. Originally called Oneida Golf and Riding Club, the club featured not only golf but also horseback riding facilities. Riding was eventually phased out of the club’s operations in the 1980’s. The club is known for hosting exhibition matches featuring top professionals of the times such as Walter Hagen, Ben Hogan, and Sam Snead.
In recent years, redesign projects by Roger Packard and Hills & Forrest have overhauled the greens and bunkers to restore the character of the original design. The green complexes were expanded to their original larger sizes, while the bunkers were restored to have flat floors and grass faces. The result was a very unique set of green complexes that are both challenging and fun. Despite significant undulations on most of the greens, there are flat sections where pins can be placed, allowing for scoring opportunities for better ball strikers.
Challenge/Playability – 8/10
Conditioning – 9/10
Strategy & Greens – 9/10
Routing – 6/10
Scenery/Aesthetics – 7/10
Overall Experience & Amenities – 8/10
Overall Score: 47/60
Brian’s Top Golf Courses Played: #10
The par 36 front nine plays over the river and through the woods to the southwest section of the property, before swinging back to the clubhouse with multiple encounters with Duck Creek along the way. Holes 3 through 6 are secluded in a beautiful wooded, hilly setting. The longer of the two nines, the outward loop challenges a player’s ball-striking ability heavily. Holes 1 through 6 present a big challenge with solid length coupled with well-guarded, undulating greens. Players hoping for a good round need to survive this opening stretch before the course lets up ever so slightly.
#1- Par 4 – 440/435/363/362 yards
The first hole plays downhill from the clubhouse mostly straightaway to a well-defended green. A bunker right and tall trees to the left make this hole appear more narrow than it really is. The green features dramatic slopes, and we played to a tricky front-left pin position perched on a distinct tier. Behind the green, a flower bed displaying “Oneida” sits on the hillside, which is a nice touch to open the round.
#2- Par 5, 548/530/434/300 yards
The second hole is a long, dogleg right par five. With its length, forest and OB left and trees right, this is a true three-shot hole even for many longer hitters. The green has a severe false front which discourages low running approach shots.
#3- Par 3, 193/175/151/143/117 yards
The third hole is a beautiful yet demanding downhill par 3, playing to a serene setting beside the creek. A longer iron or hybrid needs to find the narrow green site, and players may find it difficult to work draws or fades successfully to this small target that is guarded by deep bunkers left and short right.
#4- Par 4, 407/394/331/279 yards
The challenge continues at the fourth, a long straightaway par 4 that ends at the southernmost point on the property against a forested backdrop. Bunkers lurk left and right on both the drive and approach, once again demanding a straight well struck pair of shots.
#5- Par 4, 411/393/327/284/278 yards
The fifth hole is another challenging, strategic par 4. A deep fairway bunker squeezes the landing zone 200 to 220 yards off the tee, with another fairway bunker long and right. Players must decide if they want to take on the fairway bunkers or lay back and face a very long approach shot. I chose the former route and found the fairway bunker left, leading to a “routine” bogey. A large swale short left will catch any slight mishits in its direction and force an awkward chip.
#6 – Par 4, 393/373/310/302/230 yards
The sixth hole is a beautiful mid-length par 4 playing downhill off the tee to a narrow fairway. The approach shot must carry the creek to a deep green with bunkers left and right. The green is perched on a slope above the creek, making it challenging to hold the green with anything other than a short iron.
#7 – Par 4, 346/339/314/308/282 Yards
After the sixth hole, a journey through the forest brings players back to the main section of the property. The seventh hole is a short, dogleg left par 4. An iron or fairway wood off the tee will set up a short shot to a severely undulating green with a deep false front. This is a well-designed par 4 with green contours that appropriately fit the short nature of the approach shot, requiring great precision to find the green and set up a birdie look. My approach barely found the putting surface and somehow did not roll off the false front, and I took advantage by burying my birdie putt.
#8 – Par 3, 173/151/138/101/97 Yards
The eighth is a short, scenic par 3 playing over the creek to a plateau green flanked by a series of steep bunkers to the right. The green features a series of mounds and undulations, placing a premium on finding the right section of the green.
#9 – Par 5, 524/511/488/479/422 Yards
The ninth is a sweeping dogleg right par 5 playing back to a dramatic site below the clubhouse. Tee shots must avoid water left and trees right, setting up a narrow second shot guarded by tall trees. The narrow green is protected by bunkers right, encouraging players to take on the left side which is bordered by the creek. I made the mistake of missing my approach shot to the right of the bunkers, setting up an extremely difficult pitch.
The back nine plays to the north of the creek, taking another trip through the forest and emerging into a parkland setting for the final several holes. As the shorter of the two nines, birdie opportunities are more prevalent. However, challenging green complexes continue to demand a sharp short game to score well.
#10 – Par 4, 409/396/363/296/290 Yards
The tenth is a tough par 4 playing uphill with the creek to the left. The hole favors long hitters who can set up a short iron or wedge for the demanding approach. The second shot plays to a green perched on a sidehill with deep bunkers on both sides. I once again made the fatal mistake of missing my approach shot laterally, setting up an adventure of misfortune around the green that eventually yielded a double bogey.
#11 – Par 3, 147/135/97/94 Yards
Eleven is a short downhill par 3. A deep bunker guards the front of the green that should be avoided at all costs. True to Oneida form, the short length is made up for with severe bunkering and large undulations on the putting surface. After a poor tee shot and chip, I was thankfully able to save bogey with a 12 foot putt to lessen the pain of a mid-round slump.
#12 – Par 5, 486/468/449/443/375 Yards
The twelfth hole is a short but tricky par 5 bordered by water to the left and mature trees to the right. The hole cuts to the right quite a ways toward the green, requiring a long drive to the left side followed by a booming high fade on the second shot for those who wish to go for it in two. Bunkers pinch the front of the green, requiring a high degree of accuracy on the approach.
#13 – Par 3, 167/148/135/123/91 Yards
The thirteenth is a short, dramatic par 3 tucked deep in the forest. This feast-or-famine hole has an unorthodox green complex that you’d expect to find on a premier par 3 course such as the Sandbox. The green is surrounded by extreme slopes and deep bunkers, placing a a huge premium on on the tee shot. Fortunately I came through with my best iron shot of the day, setting up a short birdie putt that ultimately slid past the hole. Even after the missed opportunity, I felt relieved to make a par after watching my playing partners toil for large scores from off the green.
#14 – Par 5, 544/526/450/443 Yards
The fourteenth is a winding, downhill par 5. The tee shot must navigate fairway traps on both sides. The preferred shot is over the bunker to the right which can funnel down a slope and set up a reachable second shot. The green sits at the bottom of the hill with a large bunker to the right. This hole may offer the best scoring opportunity on the back nine.
#15 – Par 4, 372/366/317/311/305
The fifteenth hole is a hilly, short dogleg left par 4. The tee shot plays over a steep hill to a blind landing area. Players must beware hitting too much club off the tee, as anything over 230 yards will run out through the fairway into trees beyond. A good drive will set up a manageable short iron into a green situated next to the forest. Sloping front-to-back, the green rewards shots from the fairway with some spin.
#16 – Par 4, 379/369/342/311/303
The sixteenth hole is where Duck Creek comes into play most prominently. With the creek running all the way down the left side of the fairway, this hole reminded me of the River Course at Blackwolf Run. Players will want to favor the right side off the tee to avoid the water, but a fairway trap to the right awaits timid shots. The approach plays to a relatively tame green with “only” one bunker guarding the green. If the trouble can be avoided, this is a manageable par 4. Fortunately I did just that, and was rewarded with a birdie.
#17 – Par 3, 215/198/173/137/129 Yards
Seventeen is the least visually appealing but most challenging par 3 on the property. After a few very manageable holes, the course packs one final punch here. A long iron or hybrid is required to navigate the flat terrain, and a green surrounded by bunkers demands a highly skilled shot. Par is an excellent score here.
#18 – Par 5, 532/506/476/426/420 Yards
The closing hole is a terrific one, a dogleg right par five that bends toward the clubhouse. Bunkers pinch the landing area off the tee, and only drives pounded down the left side will have any look at the green in two. The hole turns sharply to the right only about 150 yards from the green, and tall trees force either a layup or a severe power fade towards the green in two. The massive green is easy to hit but the undulations make it difficult to two-putt.
Amenities and Overall Experience
Oneida has a wonderful practice area, including a large representative practice green and a fantastic chipping and pitching area. The driving range is slightly limited in length (drivers may not be hittable) but it is very nice. The modern, massive clubhouse is elegant and seems like the perfect venue for a wedding. The bar opens to a small patio with a fantastic view of the opening and closing holes on each nine. Service was top-notch and we really felt welcomed to the club as unaccompanied guests.
Overall, what really stood out about Oneida were the fabulous green complexes. The recent redesign and restoration work was truly marvelous, giving the course an old-school yet upscale feel. If you get the chance to play Oneida, do not pass it up!