Following a day of world-beating at Northern Bay, we figured to ourselves: The granite tees at Wild Rock play to the same length as our last round, so we should have no problems playing back tees. Bad idea. While Wild Rock may be 6,953 from the granite tees, do not compare this to any other 6,950-yard courses you have played. In fact, do not compare it to any of the courses you have ever played!

Wild Rock is long, challenging, and absolutely majestic. Although the 7,414-yard quartzite tees were never entertained, we realized on the third hole how much of a mistake we’d made in our tee selection. For an example of one of the 200-plus yard forced carries at Wild Rock, check out the video of hole three, below:

The par five first hole tells you a lot about this course: It’s long and the greens are lightning fast and difficult. The fairways tend to be wide and fair, but the tee shots themselves remain intimidating. Play the first hole for two shots short of the fairway stream, then keep your approach short of the pond long, left of the stream right, and out of the sand trap left, and you will be off to an excellent start. This game is easy, right?
Hole 1: Par 5 (559/530/497/428/416)
Hole 1: Par 5 (559/530/497/428/416)

Wild Rock has the most dramatic changes in elevation that I have seen on a course in Wisconsin. The first example of this is the par four second hole. Aiming at the narrow fairway uphill, a cut (fortunate slice, as I like to call it) hybrid or fairway wood should put you in the fairway and leave a decent chance for scoring.

Anything hit into the ravine before the fairway, or hill above the fairway, will be difficult to recover from. Trust me, I’ve found this out on my own.

Hole 2: Par 4 (421/399/374/341/309)
Hole 2: Par 4 (421/399/374/341/309)

The third is a tough par four! At 464 yards from the back tees, the drive requires more than 200 of a carry and is sure to leave a long shot in.

Hole 3: Par 4 (464/446/414/306/287)
Hole 3: Par 4 (464/446/414/306/287)

The fourth hole at Wild Rock introduces you to some fantastic par threes. The fourth carries a large pond, and requires precision – essential to all of the course’s par threes.

Hole 4: Par 3 (223/186/164/140/112)
Hole 4: Par 3 (223/186/164/140/112)

Following the par three fourth is a long cart ride (not a walking course!) across the road to where Wild Rock really gets special. The fifth hole tee shot is uphill with a slight bend to the right. The green, hidden from the approach, is narrow and tough to hit, as anything long will fall off the backside.

Hole 5: Par 4 (349/325/300/259/234)
Hole 5: Par 4 (349/325/300/259/234)

The most breathtaking tee shot on the course, and maybe that I have ever seen is on the par five sixth hole. The view from the longest tee boxes here overlooks Baraboo and more than 30 miles of the Wisconsin Dells surrounding area. Being in or around the fairway is essential, as anything right is dead, and there is little room to work with to the left. The fairway narrows as you continue playing uphill, and the blind shot to the green is tumultuous as the approach drops downhill, then into oblivion both long and right. The pin location on this hole has been in the middle of a severe slope both times I have played it, making a two-putt a lot to ask for.

Hole 6: Par 5 (588/551/525/504/457)
Hole 6: Par 5 (588/551/525/504/457)

The elevated tee boxes and gorgeous vistas continue on the seventh hole, which is a long par four ending on a hugely elevated green. Aim for the middle fairway bunker and hope you draw or fade (that’s how my game works, anyhow!), and get it out there a long way to have any chance at par. The false front should certainly be taken in to consideration, as well.

Hole 7: Par 4 (493/460/397/360/338)
Hole 7: Par 4 (493/460/397/360/338)

The eighth is short by Wild Rock standards, but requires two exacting shots. With woods right and a massive drop-off on the left side, accuracy off the tee is rewarded with an incredibly less stressful shot than from either other side.

The eighth has one of the smallest greens on the course, which plays over a deep front-side trap. Any time the pin is located on the left side of the green, the smart play is to the right side of the green to keep from the fall-off on the back-left.

Hole 8: Par 4 (433/412/362/313/260)
Hole 8: Par 4 (433/412/362/313/260)

The front nine at Wild Rock ends with an outstanding par three over water and uphill. The green on the ninth hole is so drastically sloped that three-putting becomes acceptable. Make sure to club up if the pin is placed back. I went short and had two long putts go up the hill, then roll back down to leave me longer than I’d started.

A couple of years back, at my friend Nick’s bachelor party, our other friend Nick had a hole-in-one on this hole. To rub it in to all of us avid players, it was the first round he’d played in years and did not buy drinks in the clubhouse. Just sayin’.

Hole 9: Par 3 (211/179/146/127/109)
Hole 9: Par 3 (211/179/146/127/109)
Hole 9: Par 3 (211/179/146/127/109)
Hole 9: Par 3 (211/179/146/127/109)
The tenth features another elevated tee box to another long par five. After taking a beating on the front nine, we decided to take the PGA’s advice and “tee it forward” to the shale tees for a more managable round with better scoring. No matter what tee boxes you utilize, this course will remain challenging. The tenth is no exception. The second shot uphill over sand traps is intimidating and requires a long fairway wood or hybrid.
Hole 10: Par 5 (567/547/533/510/399)
Hole 10: Par 5 (567/547/533/510/399)
If you are looking to feel good about your score, Wild Rock may not be the right afternoon for you. It is one of the most demanding tracks in the state, and is yet another example of the tremendous, and underrated, courses that can be found in the Madison/Wisconsin Dells area. This course was cultivated to provide a tournament environment, and from what I hear should be hosting the state amateur outing and other state events in the near future. In only its fourth year of play, Wild Rock should continue maturing for years to come.

The pin locations can be borderline unfair (“It’s like the head greenskeeper got in a fight with his wife last night,” my cousin told me), but it is truly a fantastic layout that combines prairie, woodlands and quarry/bluff environments into one of the most picturesque golf settings in the state.

The eleventh is the longest of the par threes at Wild Rock, teeing up from 241 yards from the back tees. It is otherwise relatively straight forward: The green is right in front of you without any crazy changes in elevation or false fronts, traps to carry, etc.

Hole 11: Par 3 (241/223/182/156/128)
Hole 11: Par 3 (241/223/182/156/128)

On a course that parades beautiful elevated tee shots out one after another, the tee shot on twelve is one of the most interesting. Driver can be played here, ideally over the traps on the left side, but it is important to keep the tee shot far enough left where the green is in view. This putting surface, which is masked well by the fairway leading up to it, is found along the rock wall beyond the bend in the fairway and is bordered by several small sand traps.

Hole 12: Par 4 (450/424/403/381/364)
Hole 12: Par 4 (450/424/403/381/364)
Hole 12: Par 4 (450/424/403/381/364)
Hole 12: Par 4 (450/424/403/381/364)

Coming out of the woodlands portion of the course, the thirteenth enters in to the quarry section, which has several of Wild Rock’s most memorable holes including thirteen.

The tee shot is most intelligently played to the bend in the fairway with less than driver. From there, a long shot in to the green is best played with right as the bailout. To the left is a gigantic quarry that falls off the faith of the earth some forty-plus feet. Anything in that area is more than likely gone. The hole finishes right of the tall oak tree behind the green complex, which is divided in half by a substantial ridge.

Hole 13: Par 4 (453/430/403/364/304)
Hole 13: Par 4 (453/430/403/364/304)
Hole 13: Par 4 (453/430/403/364/304)
Hole 13: Par 4 (453/430/403/364/304)

The fourteenth is the shortest of the par fives on the course, at just 535 yards from the back tees. The fairway is wider than it looks, but trouble does lurk on both the right and left sides of the fairway.

The approach is the shot that will require all of your attention, with a quarry residing on the right side of the approach area and green. Anything near this area is sure to be gone. The green slopes heavily from back to front, though, which allows for long approaches to bite.

Hole 14: Par 5 (535/514/487/458/407)
Hole 14: Par 5 (535/514/487/458/407)
Hole 14: Par 5 (535/514/487/458/407)
Hole 14: Par 5 (535/514/487/458/407)

My favorite of the par threes at Wild Rock, and one of my favorite one-shotters in the entire state, is the 15th hole, which tees off from isolated tee boxes over a large quarry to a green which appears almost as an island set above an enormous dead zone. Play the quartzite tees here for the most exceptional vista. The green seems too far to reach, but is deceptively closer than expected. A low-to-mid iron is actually the right club. Long can result in a lot of trouble, and the green is as difficult as they come.

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

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

The sixteenth is another long par four, driving out to the right before coming back left with a slight dogleg.

Hole 16: Par 4 (456/415/381/352/329)
Hole 16: Par 4 (456/415/381/352/329)

The seventeenth is a great risk/reward par four hole. Very short for Wild Rock, the green is reachable to long hitters, but anything short will be well below the putting surface or potentially in the woods. The smart play is less than driver to the right, finding the fairway and leaving a wedge in.

I was unfortunately not able to find any pictures of the seventeenth on my computer, so will have to make sure I take some new ones this season!

The course ends with a long par four that plays much shorter, given the tremendous downhill run that can be utilized if hit straight. The bailout on eighteen is to the right, as anything left is likely lost in the woods.

The most important shot on eighteen is the approach. Featuring one of the shortest greens on the course from front-to-back, a very tricky sand area is found just beyond the putting surface. Anything that goes in there can give even the best golfers fits.

Hole 18: Par 4 (436/412/371/337/302)
Hole 18: Par 4 (436/412/371/337/302)
Hole 18: Par 4 (436/412/371/337/302)
Hole 18: Par 4 (436/412/371/337/302)

 I personally think Wild Rock is one of the absolute best golf courses in the state of Wisconsin, and in fact think it deserves to be put ahead of a lot of the perennial top tens that have been listed by GolfWeek and Golf Digest.

For a pure golfing experience, for the beauty of the course and its layout, and for the variety of golf shots that have to be made in order to play this course well, there is not much in the state that compares.

For your next bachelor party or Wisconsin Dells weekend trip, if you are looking for a side-trip to a golfing experience you will not soon forget, check out Wild Rock at the Wilderness Resort.

Course Wrap-up:

Location: Wisconsin Dells, WI
Yardage: Quartzite-7,414, Granite-6,953, Shale-6,393, Limestone-5,746, Sandstone-5,132
Slope/Rating: Quartzite-141/76.5, Granite-135/74.5, Shale-134/70.8, Limestone-124/67.5, Sandstone-124/69.6
Par: 72
Weekend Rates (riding): $89

A 40-minute drive from the Wisconsin Dells, Arkdale is home to the most fun golf course I have ever played. Widely known as the “Replica Course,” Northern Bay features six replica holes and 12 others that should be replicated by lesser tracks.

View from the clubhouse of hole 10
The replica holes at the Castle Course are a lot of fun to play, but some of their non-replica ones are probably my favorites. Holes two, eight and 13 are fantastic holes. Interestingly, the fairways at Northern Bay are not bentgrass, like most notable courses in the state, but rather bluegrass. While I really enjoy the way they play, I have been told it catches the club more than bentgrass, and can be tougher to play from.
Thirteen is highly elevated with a dogleg left that can be cut with a driver. The smart play is a hybrid or low iron to the fairway, which can set up a managable approach to the green. Straight tee shots over 220 yards will probably find the deep, slanted bunkers that are on the far side of the fairway.
Hole 13: Par 4 (401, 373, 360, 350, 323)
Hole two is a long par three that starts testing your length. Slightly uphill, the green is 200-plus yards away and I found is best reached by hitting a well-struck 4-hybrid.
Hole 2: Par 3 (223, 206, 154, 136, 116)
Hole eight is a 500-plus yard par five that features a wide open tee shot. Put it out there far enough and you can try to cut the corner over a large pine tree that narrows to the green. The scorecard says it is reachable in two, but I don’t buy it. Lay it up into the approach alley and assure yourself the green in regulation.
The hole that makes this course most marketable is the “Island Hole.” Hole ten is a gorgeous replica of the 17th at TPC Sawgrass – the most famous hole in golf. From the replica length of 132 yards, the wind seems to always play into the tee boxes, which should change your club selection from the normal PW/9-iron you might expect. 150 yards will land you in the water on the opposite side of the island, and 130 will splash before it. The drop area (shown below) forces a difficult 25-yard flop shot and provides little in terms of relief.
Hole 10: Par 3 (146, 132, 127, 95, 81)
Hole 10: Par 3 (146, 132, 127, 95, 81)
My favorite replica hole is the par three third, which is modeled after the 16th at Augusta National. This hole requires a mid-iron off of high tee boxes over a long and narrow pond to a hugely undulating green. There are three large sand traps around it, and going in either of the two above the pin will result in a next to impossible shot out. The green slopes severely from the top to the bottom, and anything overhit from there will likely find the pond.
Hole 3: Par 3 (194, 170, 164, 160, 158)
Hole 3: Par 3 (194, 170, 164, 160, 158)
The two hardest holes on the course are brutally long. The Firestone replica sixth hole tees up from 625 yards of tree-lined fairway, and the 641-yard 15th is a blow-up waiting to happen. Both demand straight and long drives, and well-placed second shots to set up long approaches. The 15th narrows to about 40 yards with 175 to go, and the green proves elusive as it is mostly blind on the opposite side of a hill. This par five is unbelievably difficult.
Hole 6: Par 5 (625, 586, 565, 546, 361)
The 11th hole is a lot of fun. Nicknamed “Azalea,” the 11th finds you teeing off to a wide fairway that gives a tremendous advantage if you can drive to the left side. The final hole of Augusta National’s “Amen Corner,” this is an excellent risk/reward layout that challenges your courage. I found myself with 210 yards to clear the pre-green stream, and thought to myself, “What would Tiger do?” My 3-hybrid to the left-side fringe set me up for my only birdie of the day.
Hole 11: Par 5 (510, 465, 455, 431, 362)
 Hole 11: Par 5 (510, 465, 455, 431, 362)
The 18th is a par four replica of the finishing hole at Bay Hill. Trouble is far enough that you can drive off the tee, but the second shot is going to be a nail-biter regardless of your drive. The green is surrounded by water and three deep bunkers that all aim you back towards the pond in order to hold a long, bending putting surface.
Hole 18: Par 4 (462, 441, 430, 417, 305)
What surprised me most about Northern Bay is the greens. They have slowed them down slightly to make the course more playable for the layman, but they are by no means easy. In fact, several are downright mean.
If you have the opportunity to play Northern Bay, play it. You will not be disappointed. We had so much fun on Friday, in fact, that we got off the 18th green and went straight back to the clubhouse to pay $30 to play 18 more. Get started early enough in the morning and you will probably find yourself doing the same.
Hole 12: Par 4 (433, 426, 392, 329, 321)
Hole 17: Par 3 (167, 150, 131, 109, 98)
Course Wrap-up:
Location: Arkdale, WI
Yardage: Black-7,223, Blue-6,769, White-6,419, Green-5,995, Red-5,197
Slope/Rating: Black-131/74.4, Blue-129/72.9, White-125/72.7, Green-124/70.2, Red-123/69.7
Par: 72
Weekend Rates (riding): $90

Best Way to Play: On, you can usually find rounds at $55 or $40 after 2:00 pm

The Anticipation of a Great Golf Weekend: Northern Bay Preview

Have you ever had a weekend planned that you were so psyched for, you could barely contain your excitement? This is one of those weekends for me. Ask the guys on my sales team, and they will probably tell you that I have not contained my excitement well at all.
Tomorrow, a couple of friends and I will be heading to the Wisconsin Dells to play two of my top six courses of all time: Castle at the Bay (aka Northern Bay), and Wild Rock.
I don’t want to give too much away for my friends who have yet to play Wild Rock [and writing doesn’t do it justice, anyhow], so my writing on that course will be left for the post-round review. 
For Northern Bay, I thought it would be fun to compare – at the lowest possible level since I have not played any of Augusta, TPC Sawgrass, Oak Hill, Oakmont, Bay Hill or Firestone – their replica holes versus the ones that make them worth replicating.
We will go in order of the holes as they are played at Northern Bay (all pictures of the course were taken this past spring, which explains the lack of foliage)…

3. Augusta National, Hole 16:

The real thing: 170 yards
NB blue tees: 170 yards
Difference in  yardage from recommended tee box: 0
Hole 16 at Augusta National (170, 145)
 Hole 3 at Northern Bay (194, 170, 164, 160)
This is a very difficult par three! A friend of mine was the assistant pro at Northern Bay and was telling me they actually had to keep a ranger on the third to keep players from taking too many tee shots. Go short, and you’re in the water. Go long, and face an almost impossible task of holding the green. It is not uncommon to putt the ball from the top into the pond at the bottom. The front-left sand trip almost seems like a treat.
Proposed hole contest: Closest to the pin from the rough above the green
4. Oakland Hills Country Club, South Course, Hole 5:
The real thing: 490 yards
NB blue tees: 465 yards
Difference in  yardage from recommended tee box: -25 yards

A very long par four, this is the number one handicapped hole at Northern Bay. The fourth is played from slightly elevated tee boxes with the road on the left and two large bunkers on the right side of the fairway. It feels like a par five from the tee box to the green, which is huge but sloped.

Proposed hole contest: closest to the pin in two
6. Firestone Country Club, South Course, Hole 16:
The real thing: 667 yards
NB black tees: 625 yards

Difference in  yardage from recommended tee box: -42 yards

Fortunately, this hole plays mostly downhill, but it is still tremendously long. A calming stream runs alongside the end of the hole and builds into a pond guarding a small green. With trees engulfing the length of the fairway, the course’s recommended tee shot is long iron or wood.

Proposed hole contest: Closest to the pin from the fairway 200-yard marker
10. TPC at Sawgrass, Stadium Course, Hole 17:
The real thing: 132 yards
NB blue tees: 132 yards

Difference in  yardage from recommended tee box: 0

Hole 17 at TPC Sawgrass (132, 128, 115)
Hole 10 at Northern Bay (146, 132, 127, 95)


Hole 10 at Northern Bay (146, 132, 127, 95)
Probably the most famous par three in all of golf, the 17th at TPC Sawgrass is known simply as “The Island Hole.” The pond on this single hole collects over 8,000 balls every season.
Proposed hole contest: Closest to the pin (tee shot)
11. Augusta National, Hole 13:
The real thing: 510 yards
NB black tees: 510 yards
Difference in  yardage from recommended tee box: 0
Hole 13 at Augusta National (510, 455) 
Hole 11 at Northern Bay (510, 465, 455, 431)
A picture-perfect tee shot. There is plenty of room to play with in the fairway, but getting out far enough and left enough for an iron approach over the stream to the green is not an easy task – nor is finding a spot in the fairway that is not on an up-, down-, or side-slope. Take a minute to enjoy the scenery around the green on the 11th.
Proposed hole contest: Longest drive in the fairway
12. Oakmont Country Club, Hole 3:
The real thing: 428 yards
NB blue tees: 426 yards
Difference in  yardage from recommended tee box: -2 yards
Hole 3 at Oakmont (428, 390, 378)
Hole 12 at Northern Bay (433, 426, 392, 329)
The famous “Church pew” sand traps on the left side are for the most part out of the picture except for in the case of a quite errant tee shot. What makes this hole tougher is the deep sand traps on the right, and the considerable uphill approach.
Proposed hole contest: Closest approach to the pin from the last of the church pew bunkers
18. Bay Hill, Hole 18:
The real thing: 440 yards
NB blue tees: 441 yards
Difference in  yardage from recommended tee box: +1 yard
Hole 18 at Bay Hill (440, 414, 391)
Hole 18 at Northern Bay (462, 441, 430, 417)
The 18th is a fantastic finishing hole. Keep dry off the tee and do your best to hit the green between a substantial pond short and right, and deep green-side bunkers left and long. This green has one of the most drastic changes in slope at Northern Bay, which does not bode well for players “trying to break 90” – or 80, 100, or whatever the final score they have in mind happens to be.

Proposed hole contest: Lowest number of putts

Northern Bay website:

Wild Rock website:

Born in 1934, this historic golf course was the site of the Greater Milwaukee Open, and later the US Bank Championship, and was the site of Tiger Woods’ first PGA Tour event. With much pageantry, Brown Deer is the Cadillac of Milwaukee’s county courses, and the primary reason any golf enthusiast in the Milwaukee area should own a county golf card.
Not a Milwaukee County resident? Make sure to visit their booth at the annual Journal Sentinel Golf Expo, and pick up the non-resident card for $50. It will cost you $150 after the Expo. $50 might sound steep, but it brings the rate for Brown Deer down from $102.50 (walking) to $43. It is very well worth the investment.
Brown Deer Park starts with probably the hardest opening hole in the state: A 461-yard beast of a par four that doglegs right and is well guarded by trees, a large pond on the left side of the fairway, and deep sand traps all around the green. Score a par or bogey on this hole, and consider your round off to a great start.
Hole 1: Par 4 (461/447)
Brown Deer is a classic, meticulously well-kept course with mature oaks and willows, and very fast greens, which stimp at an average of 11. The rough is kept long – not Trapper’s Turn long, but famously long for the Milwaukee area, nonetheless. Tee shots are narrow but not unfair, and most tree lines have little enough underbrush that errant tee shots are often found. Take your medicine and find the fairway again to avoid blow-up holes on this course.Play the blue tee boxes and tee it up like the pros, including a lengthy 557-yard par five closing hole, which requires 220-plus yards to clear the fairway stream. Miraculously, all three of us found the fairway safely today.

Hole 18: Par 5 (557/477)
Brown Deer Park Golf Course is an oasis set in the midst of the plight of Milwaukee’s north side. This golfer’s paradise is a fantastic challenge for any player’s complete game, requiring length, precision and a sound short game.
Hole 4: Par 5 (485/475)
Hole 8: Par 4 (436/397)
Hole 16: Par 4 (371/351)
Course Wrap-up:
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Yardage: Blue-6,759, White-6,342
Slope/Rating: Blue-72.9/133, White-129/70.8
Par: 71
Weekend Rates (walking): $102.50Notable Reviews:
Golf Digest: 4 stars

Best Way to Play: Use the Milwaukee County golf card ($43.00 walking).

When asked about the Broadlands and my thoughts on it, I can say that it is one of the most fun courses I have played. It is links style, and does not over-penalize for missing fairways, but makes up for it in length: 6,884 from the tips (6,272 from the white tees). It plays much longer, though, with headwinds that always seem to prevail on holes two, six, seven, 13, 15, 17 and 18. There is an abundance of fescue, plenty of water, and beautiful homes which are far back enough to not impede on the course’s play.
The Broadlands has a great variety of par fours and fives. The second is probably their signature hole: A 534-yard par five with O/B on the left, and sand traps and a large pond on the right, which act as magnets for slightly cut tee shots. The approach is around a bend to the left, which slopes into a narrow green.
 Hole 2: Par 5 (563/534)
Included in their variety of par fours are several that are drivable: Both the 11th and 17th are in reach for players who can hit 300 yards or farther. Neither is wide enough to bail out miss-hits, and the fescue might as well be out of bounds. These are classic risk/reward holes.
The fourth is probably my favorite par three: 165 yards over water to an elevated green (shown below). Anything short will find the water or green-side bunkers, leaving a nearly impossible up and down.
Hole 4: Par 3 (184/165)
My two favorite consecutive holes are the closing ones. The 17th is a 304-yard par four that veers to the right, and the 18th (below) is 150-plus yards from an elevated tee box over a large area of fescue and two greenside bunkers. These holes provide an enjoyable finale to a fun round, and a foreboding feeling of comfort when you put your 16-hole total in perspective.
Hole 18: Par 3 (177/149)
If you have not yet experienced the Broadlands, my guess is you think North Prairie is on the other side of the state. It is actually only a 35-minute drive from most locations in Milwaukee, and has the feeling of a great weekend get-away without having to leave the area at all. Make sure to sign up for their birthday club for a free round. I certainly enjoyed mine yesterday.
Hole 8: Par 4 (412/368)
Hole 13: Par 5 (527/492)
Hole 16: Par 5 (500/491)
Course Wrap-up:
Location: North Prairie, WI
Yardage: Black-6,884, White-6,272, Gold-5,714
Slope/Rating: Black-125/72.1, White-122/69.4, Gold-117/71.9
Par: 72
Weekend Rates (riding): $61.50Notable Reviews:
Golf Digest: 4-1/2 starsBest Way to Play: Online Specials on the course’s website – book several days in advance for the lowest rates.

Taking a "Step Down" and Working on the Fundamentals

For the past few years, I have passed by Noyes Golf Course several times a day on my way to and from work. Every time I see the sign, I say to myself: “No-yes? More like ‘Yeeess, nooo” – you know, Night at the Roxbury style.
But yesterday was different. Even my friend, John’s story about being mugged there while in high school did not deter me from stopping. I parked, locked and armed my car, and checked in on Facebook, so the cops would have a lead if I didn’t make it home. I paid my seven dollars, and in workout shorts and a tee-shirt, hit the links. I checked my phone and saw a friend tell me “I was taking a real step down.”
I was happy with my decision to check it out, and not because I felt it necessary to keep my head on a swivel with at least one club in my hands at all times. It has been years since I have played a par three course, and I’ve admittedly struggled lately from distances inside 100 yards. Especially around 30-50, my short game impotence has been tremendous.
These nine holes of 109 yards or less were exactly what I needed to work on my flop shot and ability to hold small greens, and there is now even a par-three lunch-time shoot-out in the works. I’ll have to remember to leave my bag in the car, and only carry the essentials: 8-iron, 56 and putter.
Of course, it also felt good to fire a 30 for the first time in my life. I probably won’t be writing an in-depth course review on Noyes any time soon, but it fits as good a purpose as any other training regimen, and I’m glad I stopped by to work on the old short game before a weekend spent at the Broadlands and Brown Deer.
Sometimes it’s nice to take a “step down” and focus on the fundamentals.
If there is one question that I get asked way too often, it is “How can you afford to play so much golf?” First of all, I agree that I probably play a little too much golf, but I also very rarely pay full price.
This post will go over several of the best deals that I use to keep my pocketbook in check, while still allowing myself to hit the links as often as possible.
The Five Best Values for Southeastern Wisconsin Golfers:
5. The Bull at Pinehurst Farms (Sheboygan, WI):
Before scoffing at their $135 daily rate, hear me out. I know The Bull is an expensive course, but if you’re looking to play only a couple of high-class rounds a year, plan on making this one of them.
The Bull has as many or more opportunities for $40-55 rounds than any of the premiere courses here in Wisconsin. Their 50/50 Club, for example, provides ample opportunities to play for as low as $37.50, including cart. has rounds for $50 every day if you’re willing to tee off at 4:00 or later. Fill out their guest survey after your round and receive a 2-for-1 coupon, or visit them at the Journal Sentinel Golf Expo and receive a coupon for a $55 round. Now you just need to make sure you can hit the ball straight…Website:

4. Silver Spring Country Club (Menomonee Falls, WI):Keep the receipt when you play, and your next round will be $28 with cart for the Island Course, or $24 for the Falls.

Just don’t try playing mid-week for twilight, as it is not atypical for three to five separate leagues to be on the course at the same time (#slowgolf).


3. Fairways of Woodside (Sussex, WI):Using, you can almost always get in 18 holes for $35 or less, including cart.

Fairways of Woodside is what I would consider to be my home course. They have an awesome clubhouse and staff, and two extremely different, and both fun, nines. The front nine is relatively short at just over 3,000 yards, but you will need to use it as a warm-up for the back, which adds more than 500 yards to the length. This course is an excellent value.

Hole 10: Par 4 (404, 394, 339)
Hole 13: Par 5 (479, 442, 403)


2. The Golf Courses of Lawsonia, Links and Woodlands Courses (Green Lake, WI):I am already angry at myself for making other people aware of this: Every day between 2:50 and 3:10 pm, there is one tee time available on GolfNow usually for $25, including cart. Why pay $90 when you can play a little later, still finish your round and save $65?

These courses are phenomenal. The Links is the 58th ranked classic course in the country, and the Woodlands is an excellent modern track in its own right. The Links is GolfWeek’s number three ranked course in the state, while Woodlands was I believe number 11 last year.
Woodlands Hole 16: Par 3 (189/157/145)
Website: Washington County Golf Course (Hartford, WI):

WCGC has been advertising on TV considerably lately, which brings awareness to something most of us golf addicts already know: This course is awesome! But you don’t need to pay their $75.50 to enjoy a round here… After 4 pm every day, twilight rates drop to just $34, including cart, for the 29th ranked municipal course in the country.

Hole 13: (570/548/528)
Website: hope this helps some of you enjoy a little more Wisconsin golf. Please comment back with other great deals you think deserve to be mentioned, and check out the ones above and let me know what you think!

A 45-minute drive from Menomonee Falls, Rock River Hills is a nice course. The terrain is beautiful, with the famous Horicon marshes and lakes surrounding much of the course.

The track itself is hit or miss. The greens are quick and well kept, and the sand is very nicely maintained. The layout strongly favors a fade, though, and is short to the point that most holes will be challenged with driver followed by 9-iron or shorter. Some additional landscaping would do this course a lot of good, too.

Rock River Hills has a few very nice holes. In particular, the 15th and 16th [located on the opposite side of the street] are very well thought out. 15 (pictured below) is a gorgeous hole with a large pond that meanders nicely around the left side of the hole up to the green. These holes have a very upscale feel to them, while most of the course leaves a Muskego Lakes / West Bend Lakes impression: plenty of promise, but in need of a little more love.

Hole 15: Par 4 (385/347)

With a par of 70, there are only two par fives at Rock River Hills. They have three very nice par threes, including the 16th (mentioned above), 6th and 13th. The 13th, pictured below, has an elevated tee box with an intimidating 165-yard tee shot between a large pond (left) and the right-side treeline. The 16th is 160-plus yards over water and surrounded completely by sand.

Hole 13: Par 3 (176/164)
Hole 8: Par 4 (350/336)

Rock River Hills is certainly worth the $35 I paid as part of my Sunday golf league, and I would certainly pay the same to play it again. The $48 standard weekend rate, however, would be a stretch for me.

Course Wrap-up:
Location: Horicon, WI
Yardage: Blue-6350, White-5901
Slope/Rating: Blue-71.0/129, White-69.3/125
Par: 70
Weekend Rates (riding): $48.00

Notable Reviews:
Golf Digest: 4-1/2 stars

When you look at any of the key “Top 10” lists in the state of Wisconsin, there is certainly a lot of parity. My list is not much different from others, but I do like to think that I tend to be more subjective than the major media (GolfWeek, Golf Digest, How some state courses are consistently left out of the major top ten lists (ie: Wild Rock, SentryWorld, Geneva National, etc.), for example, is beyond me.

My Top Ten List:

1. Erin Hills (Erin, WI):

Golf Digest: #8 US public, #42 US top 100, #56 US toughest, #2 Wisconsin
GolfWeek: #139 US modern, #31 US resort, #5 Wisconsin public #96 US top 100, #22 US public

Located in the middle of  nowhere, Southeastern Wisconsin, Erin Hills is looking forward to hosting hundreds of thousands of spectators for the 2017 US Open.

With fine fescue fairways, and bent grass tees and greens, Erin Hills is one of the most finely manicured courses in the country, and certainly in the state. Elevation is used stunningly, and craggy, deep sand traps abound the fairways and green complexes. The US Open will be the longest in history, around 7,700 yards.

With a slope of 145 from the championship tees, Erin Hills is one of the most challenging courses I have played, and also one of the most picturesque.

Hole 18: Par 5 (660/637/620/539/506)

2. Whistling Straits, Straits Course (Haven, WI):

Golf Digest: #4 US public, #22 US top 100, #48 world top 100, #6 US toughest, #1 Wisconsin
GolfWeek: #6 US modern, #4 US resort, #1 Wisconsin public #28 US top 100, #6 US public, #49 world top 100

Host of the 2004 PGA Championship, 2007 US Senior Open, 2010 PGA Championship, 2015 PGA Championship, and the much-anticipated 2020 Ryder Cup, the Straits course is perennially rated as one of the top five golf courses in the country, alongside legends like Sand Hills, Pebble Beach, Pacific Dunes and others.

The Straits course features eight holes that run alongside the shore of Lake Michigan, offering one of the most beautiful (and windy) natural settings for golf in the world.

Hole 18: Par 4 (520/487/424/420/380)

3. Blackwolf Run, River Course (Kohler, WI):

Golf Digest: #16 US public, #32 US toughest, #4 Wisconsin
GolfWeek: #56 US modern, #17 US resort, #3 Wisconsin public #89 US top 100, #14 US public

Absolutely breathtaking. I loved, too, that I could play it on Tiger Woods Golf the night before playing it for real! The 47th ranked modern course in the country, the River has been the site of many professional golf events, including the 1998 and 2012 US Women’s Opens, and in the mid-nineties the Arthur Andersen World Golf Championships.

The River is Pete Dye’s quintessential parkland course, with a championship tees slope of 151, making it one of the 30 toughest courses in America, and certainly one of the most beautiful.

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

4. Whistling Straits, Irish Course(Haven, WI):

Golf Digest: #47 US public, #91 US top 100, #6 Wisconsin
GolfWeek: #172 US modern, #35 US resort, #6 Wisconsin public #89 US top 100, #79 US public

The Irish course at Whistling Straits is the next best thing to its $400-plus big brother Straits course. Striking vistas of Lake Michigan, and a perfectly curated layout make this course quite memorable. The 10th hole (shown below), nicknamed “Shepherd’s Post,” provides one of the most visually stunning tee shots I have ever taken.

Hole 11: Par 3 (208/193/177/169/125)
Carved alongside the site of the 2004 and 2010 PGA Championship Straits Course, the Irish features much of the same charm that makes the Straits such a fantastic tournament venue: Roaming herds of sheep, huge cliffs and changes in elevation, and lightning-fast bent-grass greens and fairways that roll beautifully. Even the restrooms built into the hillsides add to the rustic charm that is the Whistling Straits.

5. SentryWorld (Stevens Point, WI):

Golf Digest: #5 Wisconsin
GolfWeek: #4 Wisconsin public

Home of the famed “Flower Hole,” SentryWorld is much more than just one beautiful par three. The course is a classic Robert Trent Jones, Jr. parkland design in central Wisconsin, and has been a perennial top ten to fifteen course in the state for nearly 30 years (including number one until Kohler entered the scene).

SentryWorld is scheduled to reopen in the Spring of 2015, after a major course renovation was executed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. and his course design team led by Bruce Charlton and Jay Blasi.

The new SentryWorld is better than ever. The improved routing and added length have successfully updated the course for the times and technology, while making the course more challenging for low-handicap players and more enjoyable for the weekend warrior.

It is my prediction that SentryWorld: Reimagined will find it’s way back on to every major golf course ranking provider’s top ten list in 2015.

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

SentryWorld Website

6. Lawsonia, Links Course (Green Lake, WI):

Golf Digest: #85 US public, #12 Wisconsin
GolfWeek: #71 US classic, #2 Wisconsin public

The most legendary public course in the state, the Links is a perennial top 100 course in the United States, and Wisconsin’s most true to form links style setup. Highly elevated green complexes, huge elevation and devilish sand traps make it a fantastic test of golf.

Hole 13: Par 5 (568/556/489/489)

7. Wild Rock (Wisconsin Dells, WI):

Golf Digest: #15 Wisconsin

The one word that comes to mind when trying to describe this course is “Majestic.” How each hole seems to somehow outdo the last one is mind-boggling to me. The drastic changes in elevation, and the ridiculous length of this course is staggering, too (7,418 yards from the Quartzite tees). Wild Rock is a bit pricy, but well worth the $89 rate.

Hole 15: Par 3 (179/166/148/130/118)

8. Blackwolf Run, Meadow Valleys (Kohler, WI):

Golf Digest: #72 US public, #10 Wisconsin
GolfWeek: #10 Wisconsin public

With nine of Blackwolf Run’s original 18 holes, the Meadow Valleys includes my number one favorite hole in the state of Wisconsin: The magnificent par four fourteenth, known as “Nature’s Course.” This is just one of many beautiful layouts on the Meadow Valleys.

I recommend not trying to play the Meadow Valleys from the tips, like we did on July 20, 2014. At 7,250 yards, there are par threes with forced carries of 227 and 230. Yikes.

Hole 14: Par 4 (423/409/384/376/293)

9. University Ridge (Madison, WI):

GolfWeek: #7 Wisconsin public

The split-fairway sixteenth hole is one of the coolest holes I have ever played. U-Ridge is a Robert Trent Jones, Jr. course, and is the home of the Wisconsin Badgers golf team. The back nine has some exceptional holes cut through the woods, starting with the thirteenth and continuing through sixteen.

Recently renovated for 2013, U-Ridge now features the same 007 Bentgrass greens as at the Olympic Club, Augusta, and other select world-class courses.
Hole 6: Par 5 (623/570/534/442)


My favorite of the three courses at Geneva National, the Palmer Course features some of the most unique hole layouts I have found in the state. The par five seventeenth hole is ranked as one of Arnie’s “Dream 18” holes, and is one of mine, as well.

Hole 17: Par 5 (573/530/485/421/406)
The Next Ten:

11. The Bull at Pinehurst Farms (Sheboygan, WI):
Golf Digest: #70 US public, #9 Wisconsin
GolfWeek: #9 Wisconsin public
The Bull is beautiful, to say the least, with outstanding hole layouts. But, it is also incredibly tight and penalizing. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, the course is spread out over 400-plus acres of former farm land, and beautifully incorporates the Onion River, dense forests, rolling hills, deep ravines, large ponds and significant elevation changes. The course rolls out one signature hole after another, especially in the stretch of the fifth through eighth holes, which is one of my favorite four-hole stretches of all time.
Hole 8: Par 5 (568/556/500/487/435)

12. Castle at the Bay (Arkdale, WI):

A primarily replica course, my only complaint about Northern Bay is that it’s too damn far away! I have a hard time deciding which of the replica holes is my favorite: Oakmont’s church pews, Firestone, Amen Corner, Bay Hill… Probably TPC 17. It helps that I seem to play well here, but Castle at the Bay is the most entertaining course I have played on.
View from the club house of hole 10

13. Hawk’s Landing (Verona, WI):

Featuring some of the truest, fastest greens in the state, Hawk’s Landing is a beautiful golf course with incredibly challenging par fives and great par threes.

Hole 9: Par 5 (587/550/533/469)

14. Lawsonia, Woodlands (Green Lake, WI):

One of Wisconsin’s most beautiful Fall-time courses, especially, the Woodlands at Lawsonia is in stark contrast to its world-famous sister course, the Links. With exceptional holes like the second, third and seventh on the front nine alone, the Woodlands is half of what makes Lawsonia one of my favorite Wisconsin golfing destinations.

Hole 2: Par 4 (341/329/315/315)

15. Geneva National, Gary Player Course (Lake Geneva, WI):

My close second favorite of the Geneva National layouts, the Player course has some great hole layouts, especially on their par fours. With a number of holes offering extreme risk/reward scenarios, Player allows golfers to risk disaster for the potential reward of more managable approaches.

Hole 5: Par 4 (354/310/283/257/255)

16. Hawk’s View, Como Crossings (Lake Geneva, WI):

With one of the best collections of par threes in the state, Como Crossings takes great advantage of its rolling Lake Geneva land and former Mt. Fuji ski hill.

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

17. Grand Geneva, The Brute (Lake Geneva, WI):

Everything you need to know about The Brute at Grand Geneva is said in its name. This course is huge: Huge bunkers, huge water features, huge greens, huge elevation… Make sure to bring your A-game!

Hole 1: Par 4 (424/395/255)

18. The Bog (Saukville, WI):

Golf Digest: #14 Wisconsin

An Arnold Palmer signature course, The Bog is assuredly the Milwaukee area’s best overall public golf course (since the PGA Tour stopped coming to Brown Deer after 2009), and best championship test at 7,200-plus yards from the tips.

Hole 9: Par 5 (543/521/493/467/401)

19. The Oaks (Cottage Grove, WI):

The Oaks made its way to being one of my absolute favorite golf courses in the state this past year. Their greens are lightning quick and undulating, and its unique mix of six par threes and five par fives make it a wonderful test for anyone’s short and long games.

Hole 7: Par 3 (192/175/170/157/150)

20. Wild Ridge (Eau Claire, WI):

Wild Ridge was a perennial top ten course in the state of Wisconsin before the building boom of the 1980’s and ’90’s that introduced such tracks as Blackwolf Run, Whistling Straits, the Bull and Erin Hills. Wild Ridge has awesome elevation and a great collection of par fives. This was a great stop on the way back from the Twin Cities, just off of I-90/94 in Eau Claire.

Hole 12: Par 3 (184/153/141/127/127/107)

Notable Media Rankings:

GolfWeek’s Top Ten Public Courses in Wisconsin (2013)’s Top 15 Public Courses in Wisconsin (2012)

Golf Digest’s Top 10 Golf Courses in Wisconsin (2014)

Let’s give this a shot!

I’m guessing there won’t be more than a couple people who see this, but here goes the standard intro line:

Hey “Everyone!”

Welcome to my first blog. My name’s Paul and I’m kind of your average 25 y/o guy from Wisconsin, except for that I’m 32.

I have a bit of a compulsive and obsessive personality. When I get into something, I REALLY get into it. Golf, for example: It’s August 6 and I’ve played 46 rounds so far this season. I may not be an expert golfer, but as far as golf enthusiasts go, I am as expert as they come.

I have a real job where I sell healthcare equipment to long-term care facilities. Fortunately for me, my company is very flexible with time off, and I find plenty of time to enjoy Wisconsin summers. Like most Wisconsinites, though, I basically board up and get cabin fever every winter, constantly asking myself: “Why the hell am I still living in Wisconsin?” The best answer is that I love my job, family and friends here.

What I would like to achieve with this blog is two-fold:

  • Express myself through writing, thereby giving myself a venue to expand on my Facebook and Twitter “status updates.” I know, I suck at Twitter 🙂
  • Share my favorite hobbies and interests, especially golf, with other addicts around the state – and especially to get great ideas on what to do and where to go next!

It’s a gorgeous Saturday morning and I’m sitting on my porch writing this, but all I can think about is how to get out and spend the day.

I hope you “all” find something good to get into, too!

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