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.
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. GolfNow.com 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: http://www.golfthebull.com/
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 GolfNow.com, 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.
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.
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: http://www.golfwcgc.com/I 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.
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, Golf.com). 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.
Golf Digest: #8 US public, #42 US top 100, #56 US toughest, #2 Wisconsin
GolfWeek: #139 US modern, #31 US resort, #5 Wisconsin public
Golf.com: #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.
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
Golf.com: #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.
Golf Digest: #16 US public, #32 US toughest, #4 Wisconsin
GolfWeek: #56 US modern, #17 US resort, #3 Wisconsin public
Golf.com: #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.
Golf Digest: #47 US public, #91 US top 100, #6 Wisconsin
GolfWeek: #172 US modern, #35 US resort, #6 Wisconsin public
Golf.com: #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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.