Washington County: Revisiting the State’s Premier Municipal Gem

You know a place is special if you love it more every time you return.

This past spring, I visited Washington County Golf Course for the first time in decades, and was floored to find the course in optimal late April condition, with lightning fast greens amping up the challenge of Arthur Hills’ sporty, scenic layout. While this produced a fantastic early season experience, I longed to return to photograph the property in its peak form.

With summer winding down and the season’s end coming into view, I fortunately had the opportunity to re-visit the property on a clear early September morning with my friend, John (note, he captured the header photo of this post). The resulting photos turned out great, highlighting the peak golden fescue contrasted against Washington County’s beautifully-sculpted green turf. After this outstanding morning shoot, I have updated my course review to showcase the course in its prime form and to provide some interesting contrasting views of the landscape across Wisconsin’s distinct seasons.

Brian’s 2023 course review of Washington County, updated with photos from early September

Washington County is often tabbed as “Erin Hills’ little brother” or a “poor man’s Erin Hills,” in reference to its similarities and proximity to the legendary former U.S. Open host 10 miles to the south. Fresh off a round at Erin Hills just a few weeks ago, I’ve had an intimate look at both properties in a short timeframe and have pondered if this characterization is indeed accurate.

What I’ve found is that the comparison is apt in some ways – the topography, style, geographic location and aesthetics are very similar between the two venues, with Washington County featuring more subtlety and a lighter touch than the mind-boggling grandeur of Erin Hills.

The 15th at Washington County plays uphill to an elevated green, just like many approach shots at Erin Hills

One area where the “big brother/little brother” comparison fails, though, is conditioning, where Washington County is Erin Hills’ equal. Both properties are perfectly conditioned, with immaculate surfaces that play firm and fast over the windswept foothills of the Kettle Moraine. If anything, Washington County’s greens are faster than Erin’s, running at blazing speeds I’ve only seen at a select few other state venues – SentryWorld, Milwaukee Country Club and Nakoma come to mind (and I hear Blue Mound‘s greens are lightning fast, too).

Our recently-dropped video on WiscoGolfAddict’s YouTube channel provides an immersive look at Washington County’s late-summer beauty:

As I left Washington County after another memorable experience, I couldn’t help but wonder how on Earth this facility only charges a double-digit peak greens fee. In addition to the incredible course, the practice facility is one of the state’s best, as described in detail in my full course review. The fact that such a top-notch experience can be had at such a reasonable price is just another reminder of how deep the golf scene goes in Wisconsin.

Washington County Website

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