Lawsonia: One of Wisconsin’s Best 36-Hole Destinations

For my money, there’s probably no better spot in the state of Wisconsin for 36 holes than Lawsonia. An hour and fifteen minutes from Milwaukee, Lawsonia offers two distinct golfing experiences: The all-world Langford/Moreau classic Links course, and the tree-lined, scenic Woodlands course.

I made this year’s first pilgrimage to Lawsonia two weeks ago, and this time brought with me a new gadget.

My friend, Troy, had been telling me how easy it is to use the DJI Spark drone, and he let me borrow his to try out for a couple of weeks.

Like any golfer, I’ve always salivated over amazing drone footage of great golf holes. No one I’ve seen recently has done that better than Andy Johnson of The Fried Egg. For a terrific example, see his video from Lawsonia here:

“The Boldest Value in Golf: Lawsonia Links” – video credit: Andy Johnson, The Fried Egg

Despite having no drone or video editing skills, I fumbled around enough to take a couple nice shots I wanted to share. The first is one of my favorite par fours: The second hole on the Woodlands course.

Lawsonia Woodlands hole 2: Par 4 from the sky

A view from the sky shows the strategic value in playing off the tee to the fairway right of the quarry: A clear shot to the green.

Another great par four on the Woodlands course is the curvy, up-and-down fourteenth (click image for video):

Lawsonia Woodlands hole 14: Par 4 from the sky

Finally, a video of Phillip’s tee shot on the famous par three seventh on the Links course (click image for video):

As an aside, I didn’t realize until after this trip that I haven’t updated my review and photos of the Links course since it was deforested in 2014. I’ll aim to re-shoot the course and update photos sometime during the 2019 season.

And, finally, to all the dads out there… Happy Father’s Day!

Wisconsin’s 18 Toughest Par 3 Holes: The Long Holes

The Beasts (> 185 yards from the first tees in):

1. Blackwolf Run, Meadow Valleys #15 (227/196/189/150/103):

Depending on the distance, this is the hardest par three maybe in the world! From the back three tees, this signature par three on the Meadow Valleys course at Blackwolf Run tees up from well over 180 yards usually straight in to the wind and over a massive prairie with one of the widest multi-sectioned greens outside of Lawsonia’s Links course!

From 227-plus yards from the tips, this is as hard of a par three as it gets.

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Hole 15: Par 3 (227/196/189/150/103)

To make the challenge of hitting 3-wood or more off the tee more palatable, the forward tees have probably the most breathtaking view of any hole in the state of Wisconsin to look back on:

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A look back from the forward tees on the 15th at the Meadow Valleys course at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, WI

2. Whistling Straits, Straits #17 (249/223/197/165/131):

This hole has decided the outcomes of PGA Championships!

At over 240 yards from the tips, and with Lake Michigan bordering the entire left side, there is nothing simple about this Alice Dye created hole – a large mound protects the right side of the green and one of the most ridiculous volcano bunkers outside of the Pete Dye Course at French Lick means absolutely anything errant is punished to the enth degree.

Dead zone lies between the tee and green, and anything other than hitting the green leads to bogey or worse.

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Hole 17: Par 3 (249/223/197/165/137)

3. Blackwolf Run, River #13 (231/205/192/150/101):

Blackwolf Run’s River course boasts one of the most demanding tee shots in the entire state of Wisconsin: From over 200 yards, it’s all carry over the Sheboygan River with a draw, or else one hell of a high fade over the tall oak trees that front the green on the thirteenth hole.

To add to the difficulty level, fly fishermen regularly fish this stretch of the river and pay little to no attention to golfers, making players hopeful that if their tightly drawn shots are miss-hit that they’ll at least not hurt anybody.

Fortunately for us during the below round, there was only one fly fisherman in the river, and none of us hit him (see below photo).

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Hole 13: Par 3 (213/205/192/150/101)

4. University Ridge #17 (250/192/164/130):

The seventeenth at University Ridge tees up from 250 yards from the tips (one of the most popular tournament courses in the state, as well as the University of Wisconsin’s home course and site of the PGA Champion’s Tour American Family Championship), and plays directly over a pond that not only includes all-carry, but also has out-of-bounds directly left and right.

There is literally nowhere to miss on this hole, and even from the first tees in is a ridiculously challenging one-shotter.

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Hole 17: Par 3 (250/192/164/130)

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Wisconsin’s 18 Toughest Par 3’s: Mid-Length Holes

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 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.

Hole 5: Par 3 (195/182/175/167/165)

Hole 5: Par 3 (195/182/175/167/165)

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.

Hole 4: Par 3 (219/195/185/146/117)

Hole 4: Par 3 (219/195/185/146/117)

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.

Hole 11: Par 3 (208/193/177/169/125)

Hole 11: Par 3 (208/193/177/169/125)

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.

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Hole 15: Par 3 (179/166/134/130/118)

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.

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Hole 6: Par 3 (193/183/173/163/153)

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.

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Hole 14: Par 3 (197/175/147/92)

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.

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Hole 7: Par 3 (183/167/152/125)

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.

Hole 17: Par 3 (217/193/171/134)

Hole 17: Par 3 (217/193/171/134)

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.

Hole 16: Par 3 (218/204/177/156/141)

Hole 16: Par 3 (218/204/177/156/141)

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.

Hole 14: Par 3 (184/167/158/153)

Hole 14: Par 3 (184/167/158/153)

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.

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Hole 8: Par 3 (197/190/169/137)

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.

Hole 3: Par 3 (194/170/164/160/158)

Hole 3: Par 3 (194/170/164/160/158)

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.

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Hole 3: Par 3 (242/174/170/135)

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.

Hole 4: Par 3 (200/177/157/137)

Hole 4: Par 3 (200/177/157/137)

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.

Hole 14: Par 3 (222/207/169/159/136)

Hole 14: Par 3 (222/207/169/159/136)

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.

Hole 11: Par 3 (173/158/148/141/114)

Hole 11: Par 3 (173/158/148/141/114)

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.

Hole 7: Par 3 (178/168/153)

Hole 7: Par 3 (178/168/153)

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.

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Hole 8: Par 3 (195/175/157/142/110)

Wisconsin’s 18 Toughest Par 3’s: The Short Holes

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 State of Wisconsin’s Toughest Short Holes (< 160 yards from the first tees in):

1. Erin Hills #9 (165/150/143/138/135):

Previously billed as the course’s “Bye hole” for settling bets, the ninth at Erin Hills is a tremendously challenging downhill par three that plays between a multitude of green-side bunkers and a false front that protects the entrance to the putting surface. Deep rough abounds, the craggy sand traps are hellish to play out of, and in case that is not enough the contours of the green make it very difficult to hold.

Hole 9: Par 3 (165/150/143/138/135)

Hole 9: Par 3 (165/150/143/138/135)

2. Lawsonia, Woodlands #3 (168/156/145/105):

With the beautiful Green Lake just right and downhill from elevated tee boxes, the third on the Woodlands course sets up well right of the green, which is fronted by sand traps and presents only one option – hitting and stopping on the putting surface.

Anything hit left of the green will stay in the woods that direction, and anything hit right will bound well down the hill out of bounds.

Hole 3: Par 3 168/156/145/105)

Hole 3: Par 3 168/156/145/105)

3. Pine Hills Country Club #9 (170/145/135/117/114):

Even when playing in the 120-yard range, this is a hellishly tough par three! The ravine between the tee boxes and green is nothing too crazy to carry, but the green itself on nine is as heavily sloped as any in Wisconsin.

The first time I played Pine Hills was a few years ago with a couple of other golf writing friends. When a member caught up to us on nine, we let him play through what we thought was a pretty simple looking par three. He hit his tee shot left of the green, then over the right side, then toward the middle of the green which fell off the front… With our group watching, he took an eight on the hole and picked up, never getting near the hole.

Hole 9: Par 3 (170/145/135/117/114)

Hole 9: Par 3 (170/145/135/117/114)

4. West Bend Country Club #8 (159/138/130/126):

The eighth at West Bend Country Club is one of the most well thought out par threes in the entire state of Wisconsin.

The mounds in the fly zone before the green hide some of the contouring of the front and the deep C-shaped sand trap that protects it. The green is sloped hard from back-to-front, and a defined ridge will usher anything right off the front-right section in to a collection area.

William Langford was an absolute genius with golf hole designs, and this is a fantastic example of how to make a short par three a tremendous challenge through forced targeting.

Hole 8: Par 3 (159/138/130/126)

Hole 8: Par 3 (159/138/130/126)

5. Ironwood, Meath #7 (149/144/129/97):

At under 150 yards uphill, the tee shot on the seventh at the Meath course is not tremendously long or difficult. The green is long from left to right, and rather simple to hit. A deep bunker protects the front, and another in the back-right, but what makes this green so challenging is the ridge that runs vertically through the middle of it.

In one tournament I played in a few years back on this hole, I somehow made a 20-foot putt for par on this hole then watched the other three in my group all take at least three putts to hole out. One guy five-putted, and another four-putted. Each time the ball would get near the hole, it would come back down twenty feet.

Hole 7: Par 3 (149/144/129/97)

Hole 7: Par 3 (149/144/129/97)

6. Whistling Straits, Irish #6 (160/149/135/123/97):

There is no water on this mid-range par three on the Irish course, but the sand might as well be! One of the smaller greens on the course is surrounded by shallow sand, and anything overly errant is likely to find one of Pete Dye’s raised traps built in to the hillsides.

There is a little more room to miss left on this deep green that it appears from the tee.

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Hole 6: Par 3 (160/149/135/123/97)

7. Lawsonia, Links #7 (161/146/140/109):

Langford’s prowess with par three holes is again on full display on the “Box Car hole,” the signature hole of Lawsonia’s Links course. I did a more formal write-up on it here, which I urge you to check out:

Great Golf Holes: Lawsonia, Links #7

Hole 7: Par 3 (161/146/140/109)

Hole 7: Par 3 (161/146/140/109)

8. Milwaukee Country Club #8 (174/158/106):

The meticulously kept Milwaukee Country Club’s front nine is highlighted by this gem of a par three – a well-risen green complex surrounded on all sides by sand. The traps are so deep around this green that players will need to make sure they have a good line on their target before entering the traps.

Hole 8: Par 3 (174/158/106)

Hole 8: Par 3 (174/158/106)

9. SentryWorld #12 (161/139/123/86/76):

One of two new par threes at SentryWorld, the twelfth plays to a peninsula and is all flight. The green runs toward the water, so the left side (from the tees) is preferred. One of the things I love about this hole is the way the tee boxes are set up – there is not a big difference in length, but instead the tee boxes are situated laterally from one another.

Hole 12: Par 3 (161/139/123/86/76)

Hole 12: Par 3 (161/139/123/86/76)

10. Hawk’s View #17 (169/153/136/120/91):

Sitting atop the former Mt. Fuji ski hill, the seventeenth at Hawk’s View plays downhill all the way. Most of the Lake Geneva area can be seen from its plateau’ed top, and club selection is tricky and highly dependent on wind direction because of the steep drop in elevation.

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Hole 17: Par 3 (169/153/136/120/91)

11. Geneva National, Player #4 (148/132/118/104/90):

When you walk up to a tee box and it looks like a straight-forward 115-yard tee shot, chances are something’s going on. That is the case with this short one-shotter on the Gary Player course at Geneva National. The small hill to the left side hides a swale and a tremendously long green, messing with the player’s depth perception in the process. The hill on the right also plays tricks, hiding a deep collection area just right of the green.

Hole 4: Par 3 (148/132/118/104/90)

Hole 4: Par 3 (148/132/118/104/90)

12. Strawberry Creek #4 (147/131/115/100/90):

Members say this is the trickiest green on the entire course, and I do not disagree. At under 150 yards and relatively level from tee to green, the putting surface has some intense contouring and sharp drop-offs, especially on the right side.  Find the correct level on this green for any chance at par.

Hole 4: Par 3 (147/131/115/100/90)

Hole 4: Par 3 (147/131/115/100/90)

13. Trapper’s Turn, Canyon #7 (176/158/126/93):

One of the most unique par threes in the state of Wisconsin, the tee shot on seven is downhill and between the bluffs that surround its green complex. Deep rough protects some areas of the approach area, but other parts of canyon’s side walls can be utilized to carom errant shots greenward.

Hole 7: Par 3 (176/158/126/93)

Hole 7: Par 3 (176/158/126/93)

14. Big Fish #9 (129/123/104/86):

Pete Dye’s design on the ninth hole of Big Fish Golf Club is for a short par three that anyone can reach off the tee – but finding the right part of the green is absolutely necessary! Some of the deepest traps on the course surround this massive green that runs hard from back to front, and anything above the hole will be tough to stop.

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Hole 9: Par 3 (129/123/104/86)

15. The Oaks #10 (174/148/144/125/108):

While the distance – 148 yards from the first tees in – is not a big challenge while making the turn at The Oaks, the precision needed on this tee shot is. Club selection is always tricky on downhill par threes, but err on the long side as anything short, even by a few feet, will be swallowed up by the wasteland that fronts the green complex.

Hole 10: Par 3 (174/148/144/125/108)

Hole 10: Par 3 (174/148/144/125/108)

16. Castle at the Bay #10 (146/132/127/95/81):

A replica of the seventeenth at TPC Sawgrass, the tenth at Northern Bay is a simple, short shot that requires a confident shot off the tee. All that water just seems to have a way of playing with golfers’ minds, though.

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Hole 10: Par 3 (146, 132, 127, 95, 81)

17. Tuckaway Country Club #5 (164/142/101):

The fifth at Tuckaway is perhaps their signature hole, and is a gorgeous par three over water, complete with a water fountain and everything. What is not seen from the tee, though, is the degree of incline on the green that slopes down toward the front and water. Anything above or to the side of the hole location on five will make for a huge challenge.

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Hole 5: Par 3 (164/142/101)

18. Whistling Straits, Straits #12 (163/138/118/99/89)

Maybe my favorite par three at the Straits is one very rarely talked about: The twelfth. This green is massive from front-left to back-right, allowing for all kinds of variations on length and pin placements. A back-right pin location brings this short par three to a mid-range or potentially even long par three length, and requires a long carry that takes on Lake Michigan to the right.

Hole 12: Par 3 (163/138/118/99/89)

Hole 12: Par 3 (163/138/118/99/89)

Great Golf Holes: Streamsong, Red Course #18 (FL)

Streamsong’s Red course, designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, was named by Golf Digest as the number one new course in the country in 2013, and Streamsong’s resort has thrived over the past two years to become the country’s hottest golf destination.

The Red course ends in fantastic fashion, with a sensational par three sixteenth over water to a 100-yard long biarritz green, a strong par four seventeenth and then one of the best finishing holes found anywhere: The par five eighteenth.

The 18th on the Red course at Streamsong from the tee

The 18th on the Red course at Streamsong from the tee

The eighteenth is framed beautifully by the sand dunes that tower above the right-hand side of the playing surface, and lead to a magnificently contoured green complex.

The hole is not overly long, especially for a modern day par five tipping out at 540 yards, but there are quite a few nuances to it that defend the eighteenth from being an easy birdie hole.

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Photo courtesy of Kris Halsrud / Kristazio on Golf (link: http://kristaziogolf.blogspot.com/2015/03/streamsong-red-hole-18.html)

First are the sand traps in and around the fairways. The sandy wasteland fronting the tees should not come in to play for most players who can carry the ball 75-150 yards, depending on tee selection, but the deep trap that runs the left side of the fairway certainly can. The sand dunes right of the fairway can also come in to play with sliced shots.

My drive on the eighteenth found the deep trap on the left side, for example, leaving this bunker shot out:

Strategy is key to scoring on the eighteenth, as the contours of the green complex make accuracy on the approach pivotal. Going at this green from the left side means having to carry sand, and approaching it from the middle to right side of the fairway means a more direct shot with a wider green, but also having to carry a major false front.

At a recent media trip to the site of Coore/Crenshaw’s current project at Sand Valley in central Wisconsin, I asked Bill Coore about this hole, and specifically about its green complex: “How do you know when a green is right? Take, for example, the 18th on the Red course at Streamsong?”

The dramatic 18th hole green complex at Streamsong's Red course in Streamsong, FL (Coore/Crenshaw)

The dramatic 18th hole green complex at Streamsong’s Red course in Streamsong, FL (Coore/Crenshaw)

Coore’s answer: “When it feels right. The difference between a great green and a terrible green is very narrow. We (Coore and Ben Crenshaw) encourage our staff to be creative and ‘go with it.’ The result is a combination of artistry, strategy and of course drainage.” Mr. Coore asked [Streamsong Superintendent Rusty Mercer], “Can you and your team mow this?” “We can mow this,” he told Bill. If he had responded any other way, the green would have been altered and this great complex would not stand as it does today, and probably yield a lot lower scoring average.

At 540 yards from the tips, or 505 from the first tees in, this is a reachable par five in two shots. The second shot would surely be a long approach, though, and would have to carry the traps front-left of the green in order to have any chance at holding it.

Anything hit near the middle to right side of the green would hit its tremendous false front in that direction, and undoubtedly roll in to the collection area that requires skillful uphill wedge play from tight lies.

Coore and Crenshaw are masters of providing golfers with shot options, and the finishing hole on Streamsong’s beautiful Red course is a terrific example of that.

Hole Wrap-Up:
Course: Streamsong, Red course
Designer: Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw (2012)
Location: Streamsong, FL
Yardages: 540/505/443/406
Par: 5
Handicap: 17

WiscoGolfAddict course review for Streamsong, Red course

WiscoGolfAddict destination overview for Streamsong Resort

Streamsong Resort, Red Course Website