Golf Course Review: Hawks Landing

Please note that while this article is dated March 2012 (date of the original post), it was updated in August 2019

After an 8:00 tee time at University Ridge last week, I found myself in the mood for more golf. Strange, huh? With a high school tournament being played on both nines, I decided to check out their neighboring course, Hawk’s Landing.

Hawk’s Landing looks magnificent from the road, and that is certainly representative of the course, itself. I talked with the pro in the clubhouse, and being a Wednesday there was little traffic and plenty of room for a single player to get around without putting too much pressure on other players.

As a side note: I sometimes enjoy playing courses I am reviewing on my own. I like to play one ball one hundred percent honestly, and a second like I think someone who is a really strong golfer would play. So on the holes where I would hit 3-hybrid off the tee, I will play that, then driver or 3-wood to try cutting off more distance. I feel like this provides better credibility to my play recommendations.

If you’re curious how I hit my clubs and how it might translate to your game, I guess I would sum it up like this: My driver goes pretty long, and I can usually get 250-300 yards out of it. Depending on the day, it will either go straight, slice hard, or I will have issues with my grip and stance and pull my drives frustratingly. Fortunately, I am having many more of the straight days this year. My 3-wood can get out in the 230-250 range. My three and four hybrids are two of my more consistent clubs, and average around 200-225. The best club in my bag is my seven iron, which I hit pretty well in the 165-175 area.

I also enjoy playing solo for reviews because it allows me ample time to take plenty of pictures. My regular threesome can get a little tired of all of my photo-taking, otherwise, as it obviously can slow down play.

Midweek is fantastic for golf. Not only are rates slightly lower, but courses are typically much more open – nobody pressing you to play faster, nobody in front frustrating you by forcing you to slow down your own game.

Back to Hawk’s Landing: I found it interesting that the course this year (2012) flipped their nines. In conversation with the club’s PGA Head Professional, Rich Bartley, the change was made [back to the original way it was built] as a result of members’ recommendations based on a number of factors: The sun setting in the face of last season’s finishing hole, having better visibility of players finishing their rounds, and simply allowing for a slightly less tumultuous eighteenth. That is not to say the new eighteenth, which is a par five finishing over water on a severely sloped green outside the clubhouse’s beautiful restaurant (The Roost). I always enjoy an eighteenth hole where viewers from the clubhouse and/or restaurant/bar are able to watch the approach shots.

Hole 18: Par 5 (520/496/434/410)

Hole 18: Par 5 (520/496/434/410)
Click image for video

Hole 18: Par 5 (520/496/434/410)

I was happy there weren’t too many spectators watching when I finished my round with a birdie putt from eight feet that turned into 25, then a four footer that I finally put in for bogey.

A semi-private golf club with a private club feel, the front nine at Hawk’s Landing is my favorite. The back nine has more homes – huge, beautiful homes, that are far enough off from the course to not come in to play. The front nine has more open areas, which I enjoy because it promotes the feeling of “time away.”

The front nine also utilizes much more elevation. No holes more so than on the fantastic par five fifth hole. The tee shot is well elevated above a tight fairway that is lined on the left by woods. Out-of-bounds and a plethora of bunkers are on the right side, and the fairway funnels downhill and left to a green that is very well guarded by several large oak trees. This is an awesome par five, and one that breaks in to my all-time favorite par fives in the state of Wisconsin.

Hole 5: Par 5 (561/512/482/445)

Hole 5: Par 5 (561/512/482/445)

The elevation continues on the sixth. Tee boxes are high above the downward-running fairway, which winds around a huge pond that creates a right-side border for the fairway and green. Out of bounds is dead, so an accurate tee shot here is critical. I put my 3-hybrid in the woods at the bottom of the hill on my “real” tee shot, then hit the front side of the green with my driver. At 336 yards, that made me feel pretty good. This is another beautiful golf hole.

Hole 6: Par 4 (363/336/310/272)
Hawk’s Landing has some great par threes, too. The island hole, number eight, is probably the most popular and photogenic, but I think my favorite of their par threes is the 177-yard (black tees) fourth hole. Located on the highest point of the golf course (and one of the highest in Dane County), the wind is a huge factor on this hole, which is wrought with sand traps and a sliver of a laterally running green that is slightly above the normal level of play. A false front and sharp slope add an extra degree or two of difficulty, as well.

Hole 4: Par 3 (177/177/157/137)
Click image for video

The aforementioned eighth is the par three seen from the road that passes by Hawk’s Landing (and University Ridge). Seeing this island-like hole, and how well it’s set up – fronted beautifully with railroad tiles – provides significant intrigue to golfers driving by. The green is mercifully huge on this hole, but there is a lot of water to carry…

Hole 8: Par 3 (164/135/114/97)
Click image for video

The hardest hole on the course, and one of the hardest I’ve ever played anywhere, is the par five ninth. At 550 yards from the black tees, the ninth is all uphill and extremely tight. A large gray silo resides on the left side, which provides a left-most target to stay away from.

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

The right side of the driving area is sloped toward a creek-like area that drops six feet from the playing surface, then to woods. The fairway itself continues uphill, and finishes right of a deep front-side bunker and left of a gorgeous flowing water feature, complete with waterfalls. As you can see from this picture, it’s hard to get a good idea of the green complex from the fairway because it’s so uphill. A view from the sky shows this much better, as does the look-back from the ninth green.

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

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

The split-fairway seventeenth is one of my favorite par fours at Hawks Landing. While the higher, left-side fairway offers a better angle in, the lower fairway right of the central traps provides a perfect bailout and allows players to wail away off the tee.

Hole 17: Par 4 (429/393/357/308)

Hole 17: Par 4 (429/393/357/308)

Hawk’s Landing is one of the most well-kept courses (public or private) I have played in the state of Wisconsin. The greens are probably the fastest I’ve played public, and they roll beautifully. The entire course is as green as green can get. I was told by a member who joined me for the back nine that the course’s greenskeeper is probably their biggest asset. That is not a knock on the rest of the course and staff, though, as the property as a whole is very well thought-out and maintained. That being said, Hawks Landing Superintendent Neil Radatz is a very well respected and recognized leader of the Wisconsin turf grass / superintendents community and it’s very easy to see why.

Another fun par four, the eleventh features one of the course’s most well-guarded green complexes:

Hole 11: Par 4 (442/410/361/327)

Another beautiful par three over water, the thirteenth has a two-tiered green that rises toward the back. The bailout here is all left, as you can see below.

Hole 13: Par 3 (189/175/151/104)

Hole 13: Par 3 (189/175/151/104)

The short par four 14th is under 300 yards and drivable from the tees, but beware the middle fairway bunkers.

Hole 14: Par 4 (325/300/285/254)

Hole 14: Par 4 (325/300/285/254)

The hardest par three on the course is the long sixteenth. Teeing up from over 200 yards from the two back tees (239 from the tips!), the green is risen and narrow left-to-right.

Hole 16: Par 3 (239/206/175/154)

Hawk’s Landing was a wonderful experience, and I also enjoyed my time sitting with Rich and talking about their property. His passion for the club is evident, as well as in the quality of his course and in talking with their members. If I lived in the Madison area and they have an affordable junior membership, I would join there in a second.

Course Wrap-up:
Location: Verona, WI
Yardage: Maroon-7,227, Black-6,678, Member-6,330, Blue-6,066, White-5,395
Slope/Rating: Maroon-134/74.8, Black-129/72.3, Member-125/70.9 Blue-123/69.6, White-122/71.2
Par: 72
Weekend Rates: $74 (with cart)

Wisconsin’s Best Par 5 Holes By Paul Seifert

Wisconsin’s 10 Best Par 5 Holes By Paul Seifert

Wisconsin’s 10 Best Par 5 Holes

Too often people look at par fives as the holes they need to survive in order to save their score. Not me. As anyone who has golfed with me can attest to, I love par fives. I love that I can have one bad shot, and still have a good chance for par.

Sometimes it is the challenge that makes par fives great. Sometimes it is the options the hole provides. Sometimes, it has such a spectacular layout and looks so great that my score the first time I play it doesn’t even matter.

Some courses are chocked full of great par fives. Courses like University Ridge, Castle at the Bay, Wild Rock and Horseshoe Bay were built for great par fives. They churn out one after another. Other courses have one or two that are truly spectacular. There is definitely an art to making a great par five, and this article is an ongoing examination of the best.

You will notice that this listing changes often. It is listed as “posted on” October 25, 2011, but will be ever-changing. It is my intention to edit this as often as a great hole is found that deserves to be included.

This list is dedicated to the par five holes that provide the best challenge and options, and oftentimes for me the most memorable experience on the course.

1. University Ridge #16 (554/533/514/434):

From the moment you step up to the tee, the sixteenth at U-Ridge is one of the most fun golf holes in Wisconsin. A large oak tree provides your first choose-your-own-adventure experience: Aim to the right of the tree to hit the lower fairway, but risk finding the woods or fescue if the drive cuts. Aim to the left for a slightly safer play, but doing so will add more yardage to the hole and bring in to play thirteen centrally placed sand traps on the approach.

The second shot will be long regardless of the side you choose, but each has a bailout fairway to help take the bunkers out of play. Aim over the traps for your only chance at hitting this green in two and putting for eagle.

Hole 16: Par 5 (554/533/514/434)

2. Whistling Straits, Straits Course #16 (568/545/535/513/412):

Driving along the coastline of Lake Michigan, “Endless Bite” is a beautiful, demanding par five with the lake as a backdrop to a green perched opposite a multitude of recessed sand traps and waste areas.

While this is the shortest of the par fives on the Straits course, the green is quite possibly the toughest to hit in two, as the left side all slants toward the lake.

Hole 16: Par 5 (568/545/535/513/412)
3. Geneva National, Palmer Course #17 (573/530/485/421/406):
Walking off the green of the gorgeous par three 16th hole on the Palmer course at Geneva National, you walk alongside the shore of Lake Como to tee boxes that when looked over cannot help but make you think of the famed 18th hole at Pebble Beach.
One of Arnold Palmer’s “Dream 18” holes of his course designing career, the 17th presents a formidable task: Getting off the tee. Lake Como lines the entire left boundary of the hole, while out of bounds lines the right side. Several large oaks give you a line, while strong winds off the lake make this initial challenge even more difficult.
The hole flows down the shoreline and finishes with a flurry of sand traps. This is the signature hole on the Palmer course, and one of the most beautiful holes I have found in the state.
Hole 17: Par 5 (573/530/485/421/406)

4. Wild Rock #6 (588/551/525/504/457):

The most awe-inspiring tee shot on one of Wisconsin’s most majestic courses is Wild Rock’s par five sixth hole. The view from the quartzite tees 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 left. The fairway narrows as the sixth plays uphill, and a blind shot to the green becomes guess-work as the approach drops downhill, then into oblivion both long and right. The pin location has been in the midst of a severe slope each time I have played it, making a two-putt much to ask for.
Hole 6: Par 5 (588/551/525/504/457)

5. Blackwolf Run, River Course #11 (621/560/538/522/446)

While it looks fairly elementary from the tee boxes, the eleventh hole at the River is anything but. The views from the second and third shots are picturesque, to say the least, while the distances over the Sheboygan River are deceivingly long.

Do yourself a favor and avoid looking at the hole flyover prior to teeing off. The optimal tee shot is the left side of the fairway, although a sand trap is found left 260 yards out. The river runs the full distance of the right side, and narrows the fairway between it and the reservoir found to the left at about 300 yards. The second shot will bring the river in to the equation no matter where the tee shot is played to, and the distance to safely carry the river can be tough to judge.

To me, the eleventh is the most scenic hole on the River course, which is a bold statement. I am told that it is Herb Kohler’s favorite, as well.

Hole 11: Par 5 (621/560/538/522/446)
 

6. Lawsonia, Links Course #13 (568/556/489/489):

Thirteen is one of the most awe-striking par fives you will find anywhere. The tee shot is pretty self-explanatory: Try to find the fairway and set up your second shot. From there, it gets interesting.
The mounding on this hole is absolutely beautiful, and is the quintessential example that should be used for any American links-style course. The second shot has to be long, and absolutely needs to be in the fairway. Why? The finish is surrounded by woods, and features a massive depression that falls steeply from the fairway. It then climbs again for 150-plus yards to the green, which looks heavenly from the fairway depression before being mounded even higher for the green itself.
Hole 13: Par 5 (568/556/489/489)
7. Erin Hills #18 (660/637/620/539/506):
The eighteenth at Erin Hills is one of the most beautiful finishing holes I have played, and at 620 yards from the green tees (660 from the tips), it is also one of the longest.
Listening to Director of Golf, Rich Tock, tell me about this hole before our round got me excited to play it. With a good drive, the fairway bends right at around 250-300 yards out. Trying to hit the green in two from this area will inevitably result in a lost ball in the forced carry over fescue that serves as a wetland. The second shot has to be played far right toward the central fairway sand trap. The fairway on eighteen extends considerably in that direction, and leaves a wedge in to a green that is risen and lined on the left with deep sand traps. Long and left runs off the green quickly.

The view on this approach is breathtaking, with the clubhouse, village, and American and Erin Hills flags in the near distance, and Holy Hill on the horizon. It is so memorable that a friend of mine from my Thursday night golf league hired a painter to capture the vista with him on the eighteenth green.

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

8. SentryWorld #5 (526/510/475/435/370)

It was a great decision by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. not to change much on the par five fifth hole at the renovated SentryWorld.

Driving over water, the fairway meanders around the lake and finishes on a peninsula well under 400 yards from the tee boxes, but is completely unreachable. While this crescent-shaped layout provides a wealth of risk/reward options, the smart play is to make sure the fairway is hit off the tee, then “Walk the line” greenward.

Keeping it as the fifth hole does not mean improvements were ignored: The new fifth has an opened up driving area, and less trees in the fly zone over the inland lake means long hitters will now be further provoked to try daring approaches over and along the shoreline.

Hole 5: Par 5 (526/510/475/435/370)

9. The Bull at Pinehurst Farms #8 (568/556/500/487/435):

All you need to know about this hole can be seen in the aerial layout. With water seamingly everywhere, the tee shot needs to be played to the fairway. The parallel rivers separate split fairways on the second shot, and the green is mercilessly small and breaks relentlessly. While the fairway on the left side makes for the easiest setup, the one in the middle allows the greatest margin for error on the approach. Choose your own adventure on this spectacular par five.
Hole 8: Par 5 (568/556/500/487/435)

10. Blackwolf Run, Meadow Valleys #16 (590/544/487/478/415):

The longest par five on the Meadow Valleys course, the sixteenth is nicknamed “Rolling Thunder.” The tee shot from the tips requires a whole lot of length to clear the hill that fronts the fairway and landing zone, then fires right green-ward. Stay well right of the small barn off the tee.

Be smart on the second shot to avoid the largest sand trap at all of Blackwolf Run, and maybe the largest greenside bunker in the state, lingering short-right and along the entire right side of the elevated putting surface.

Hole 16: Par 5 (590/544/487/478/415)
 

Honorable Mention:

11. Geneva National, Gary Player Course #10 (552/511/495/462/405):

The opening hole on the back nine of the Player course features highly-elevated tee boxes with woods to the left and a hugely downhill drive. 

Find the fairway on the drive and get great roll to set up a chance at hitting this green in two. The shot over the pond is long, and the landing area is largely populated with sand. The finish of this hole reminds me of the 18th from Castle at the Bay, requiring a long shot over water and staggered bunkers. The green is multi-tiered, as many of the greens at Geneva National are. 


Hole 10: Par 5 (552/511/495/462/405)
 

12. Big Fish #13 (525/487/475/440/401):

The back nine at Big Fish is absolutely beautiful, and is highlighted by this phenomenal par five. Following a straight tee shot, the setup is played over a gigantic crest in the fairway that drops significantly toward a lower fairway before playing back uphill to a small green guarded by several pot bunkers left, and a line of trees to the right.

Hole 13: Par 5 (525/487/475/440/401)
13. Washington County #7 (545/524/505/431):
The seventh at Washington County is a brutal par five. At over 500 yards, water lines almost the entire left side of the hole, and the fairway funnels toward it. The tee boxes are in line with the pond, so it is essential to stay right.
The approach is over a small creek / waste area, and fescue runs along the right side of the rough by the cart path.
Hole 7: Par 5 (545/524/505/431)
14. Brown Deer #18 (557/477/353):
The eighteenth at Brown Deer begins with one of the most demanding tee shots I have ever played. From the tips, this hole plays at 557 yards, and the tee shot needs to be at least 225 and straight to cross the pre-fairway stream.
Heading uphill, the hole is lined with trees. A former PGA Tour event finishing hole, it is fun to think to yourself on the tee boxes: “What would Tiger do?”
Hole 18: Par 5 (557/477/353)

15. Hawk’s Landing #5 (561/512/482/445):

With elevated tee boxes driving downhill, out of bounds left and tons of sand traps and OB right, this is a tight driving hole that can reward straight shots with a lot of roll-out. The par five fifth at Hawk’s Landing plays downhill to a green that has to be run on to.

Hole 5: Par 5 (561/512/482/445)
 

16. Whistling Straits, Irish Course #8 (555/542/501/459/392):

After parking the cart and walking back to the tee boxes, there is a carry to the tee shot of a little over 100 yards to the fairway. The right side drops about 15 feet off the playing surface, so if you land there then take your medicine and re-find the fairway. The setup shot is played over an inland stream and uphill to one of the most beautiful green areas I have ever seen. Littered with sand and an almost impossibly sloped green, a par here would feel like a birdie on almost any other hole.
Hole 8: Par 5 (555/542/501/459/392)
17. Castle at the Bay #6 (625/586/565/546/361):
The Firestone replica sixth hole at Northern Bay tees up from 625 yards of tree-lined fairway. The fairway is tight, and the setup shot aims downhill to a creek that starts on the right side and builds in to a pond before the green. The green is next to impossible to hit in two, so play it smart to avoid this blow-up hole waiting to happen.
Hole 6: Par 5 (625/586/565/546/361)
 
18. Hawk’s View, Como Crossings #10 (600/550/539/515/507):
Ten is Hawk’s View’s longest par five, and my favorite hole at Como Crossings. The tenth sets up similarly to the eighteenth hole at one of my favorite Wisconsin courses, The Oaks. The fairway sets up laterally with hundreds of yards to short grass to hit from the tees. The farther left you drive, the shorter the drive will be.
If the tee shot is long and left, there will be a chance to hit the green in two, but it will likely be 200 yards or more. If the middle or right side of the fairway is hit off the tee, the only option will be to lay up before Como Creek. A beautiful wooden bridge crosses the creek and leads to a short layup area that fronts an elevated green. This is an awesome par five that for almost all players will require three shots to hit.
Hole 10: Par 5 (600/550/539/515/507)

19. The Oaks #18 (547/510/483/479/460):

The eighteenth at The Oaks is a fantastic finishing hole. The last of their five par fives, the fairway runs slightly downhill and is probably the widest on the course. The hole bends left and over a large waste area, with woods left. Beyond these woods is about 30 yards of open fairway and sand traps, while the front-right side of the green area will result in a lost ball or deeper bunkers.

Play to the left side of the green for your best chance of staying safe, and realize that there is plenty of fairway and layup area left of the green over the trees that front the approach area.

Hole 18: Par 5 (547/510/483/479/460)
20. Lawsonia, Woodlands Course #8 (527/495/479/428):

Seven is my favorite hole on the Woodlands course, and one of my all-time favorite par fives. The tee shot is nearly impossible: A large sand trap and woods on the left, forest on the right, and well within distance is a mammoth pond surrounded by tall, thick fescue. Stay safe off the tee and your second shot will be to a wide enough area uphill to set up the approach.

The green is two-tiered, so make sure you find the right level. Anything on the wrong level almost guarantees a three-putt, while a top-level hole location is still liable to carry any putt to the lower level (or off the green, altogether). Take a minute to enjoy the look back at this gorgeous hole layout before moving on to the eighth hole.

Hole 7: Par 5 (527/495/479/428)
 
21. Fire Ridge #10 (532/528/489/443):
The tenth at Fire Ridge has one of the most exciting par five approach shots in Wisconsin. At over 500 yards, a forest lines the left side of the hole, and the fairway is wide enough with the exception of a large tree that can lock out shots cut right.
The approach carries a wide river (shown below), then flies a long sand trap that fronts this kidney bean-shaped green.
Hole 10: Par 5 (532/528/489/443)

Wisconsin’s Best Par 3 Holes

There is no more exciting hole in golf than a well-made par three. Great par threes begin with imagination, and are cultivated to provide a challenging one-shot experience interlaced with fantastic aesthetics, and occasionally options.

This article is dedicated to the par threes that I will never forget, and will be an ongoing examination of the greatest one-shot holes in the Midwest. Much like my all-time greatest courses list, it will be ever-changing and updated as necessary when I find one that deserves a spot in the rankings.

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

The legend of the seventeenth goes like this: At every course that Pete Dye designs, he allows his wife, Alice, to design one par three. This was the seventeenth for the Straits course, and she must have been angry with him that day!

The seventeenth, quite possibly the signature hole on the Straits course and one of the most beloved par threes in the state of Wisconsin, is a brutally long par three with very few spots to miss. The lake lingers left of the playing area, and huge mounds front the right entrance and entire right side of the putting surface.

The misses here are short and/or long-right, as the mounds right of the green can help carom slightly wayward shots toward the putting surface.


Hole 17: Par 3 (249/223/197/165/131)
 

 

2. Wild Rock #15 (179/166/134/130/118):

With six individual tee boxes separated by the trees and cliffs, the fifteenth hole is one of the most picturesque holes on one of the state’s most picturesque golf courses. A large stone quarry lives between the elevated tee boxes and the elevated green, and anything hit short will be claimed by the waste area that lies beneath.

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

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

The seventh on the Links course is famous for the “Boxcar hole” and its steep embankment short and right of the green. Opened in 1930, the Links is rated the number 55 classic course in the country, and the seventh is its signature hole.

Legend has it that course architects William Langford and Theodore Moreau used an actual train boxcar to create the elevated green on seven – if that’s true, then we can reasonably assess the drop in elevation on the right side to be at least 11 feet. In person, it feels like 15-20 – not an easy recovery when missed!

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

4. SentryWorld #16 (173/155/127/116/106):

As any avid Wisconsin golfer has, I had seen pictures of SentryWorld’s famous “Flower Hole” prior to playing it. Needless to say, I did not expect it to live up to expectations. It did, though, and more. The reason I say more is that it is an excellent par three even without the 45,000-plus flowers!

The green on sixteen is slightly risen and heavily sloped, and the steep bunkers that front it can be awfully penalizing. While shots in to the flowers cannot be played or looked for, the course does allow for a free drop. The flowers are beautifully patterned, and the colors are vibrant and glorious: Oranges, reds, yellows, purples and whites.

Hole 16: Par 3 (173/155/127/116/106)

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

A beautiful replica of the world’s most famous golf hole, number 17 at TPC Sawgrass, the tenth at Northern Bay is intended to challenge your mettle at the 132-yard distance that is played on the PGA Tour.

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

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

Previously billed as the course’s “Bye hole,” the ninth at Erin Hills is a phenomenal downhill par three that plays between a multitude of greenside bunkers and a false front that protects the entrance to the putting surface. Deep rough abounds, and the craggy sand traps are hellish to play out of.

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

7. Blackwolf Run, River Course #4 (219/195/185/146/117):

Narrow and well-guarded, Swan Lake is one of the most charming holes on the world-famous River course.

The two biggest stars on this hole are the swans that live in the pond, who seem to be avid golf enthusiasts, themselves: When you’re on the tee boxes, they’re by the tee boxes. When you’re on the green, they are by the green. This will be one of the holes receiving a lot of attention during the 2012 US Women’s Open, and my guess is these two swans (pictured below) will be quite popular with the national media.

At 195 yards from the blue tees, the tee shot is long and intimidating. Anything hit right is dead, so zero in with a long club that you can hit straight, and pray to stay dry.

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

8. The Bull at Pinehurst Farms #6 (193/183/173/163/153/80):

On an unbelievably difficult golf course, the sixth at The Bull does not let up. Narrow and guarded by trees and sand, this hole requires absolute precision. This is a gorgeous hole, and follows one of my all-time favorite par fours, “Follow On.”

That being said, this is a beast of a par three. With a downhill tee shot, I have felt every time that I’ve teed off on this hole that I’ve hit it pretty well. Alas, I have found sand, I have found forest, and I have yet to find the green. The bunker on the right is particularly difficult, and anything overhit from there will likely be lost in the woods [or in the traps] on the left side of the green.

The green is two-tiered, and slopes from the back to the front. Nicknamed “Elation,” I will certainly be elated if I ever find a way to mark par on this par three.

Hole 6: Par 3 (193/183/173/163/153/80)

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

One of the newly designed holes on the Robert Trent Jones, Jr. renovated SentryWorld, I think a lot of Wisconsin golfers will be excited in 2015 to see that the “Flower Hole” may no longer be the most beautiful par three on the course. It might be top three, in fact!

Twelve is a brand new par three, created in an area that had previously never been used by the course. Teeing off from a laterally running tee box over the course’s inland lake to a peninsula that runs hard toward the water, twelve requires the precision of an island tee shot, with a slight backboard on the left side to help hold approaches.

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

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

The hole pictured on the Meadow Valleys scorecard, the fifteenth is a seriously PGA-caliber par three. Playing from 227 yards from the tips, and 196 from the blues, the tee shot is typically straight in to the wind and must carry almost the entire distance. Anything short is dead. Anything left is dead. Anything right is dead. Anything long will require a good touch downhill to keep from hitting the aforementioned “short” dead zone.

With one of the widest greens on the course, though, it is not impossible.

Adding to the mystique of this hole is maybe the most gorgeous vista in all of golf from the fifteenth hole’s tee boxes: Over the green and up the fairway of the “Nature’s Course” 14th hole.

Hole 15: Par 3 (227/196/189/150/103)
Image from the course website, from the closer tee boxes

The Honorable Mention List:

11. Trapper’s Turn, Canyon Course #7 (158/140/126/93):

The seventh on the Canyon course is a very intimidating tee shot, but actually plays a little easier than expected. Both sides of the approach area are slanted upward, which funnels shots slightly left or right in to the green area. Both times I have played it I have found myself on the green by way of the friendly bounce, which is much appreciated when playing on a course as tight as the Canyon.

IMG_8708
Hole 7: Par 3 (158/140/126/93)

12. Whistling Straits, Irish Course #11 (208/193/177/169/125):

Nicknamed “Lamb Chop,” the 11th at the Irish course is a long, and usually heavily wind-influenced hole chocked full of treachery. The cliff on the left side of the approach air zone provides a lot of character to the hole, and even that is wrought with sand traps. A sand trap from those areas would probably be best [or only] struck by the old “hand wedge.”

That was a [bad] joke, but this hole is not. It is absolutely gorgeous, with views of Lake Michigan and glorious mounding and bunkering.

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

13. Geneva National, Palmer Course #16 (218/204/177/156/141)

The start of one of the best combinations of back-to-back holes in the state, the sixteenth at the Palmer Course is a beautiful and challenging par three. The tee shot is long, at 204 yards from the blue tees, and plays to the shoreline of Lake Como. The backside of the green drops off to the lake, while the left and right sides are bordered by sand.

Hole 16: Par 3 (218/204/177/156/141)
14. Hawk’s View, Como Crossings #17 (169/153/136/120/91)

Perched atop the former Mt. Fuji Ski Hill, the back tees afford a view of much of the surrounding Lake Geneva and Delavan area, and 87 feet down to the putting surface of this gorgeous par three. At 153 yards, the wind was swirling for our round, and club selection proved to be quite difficult. My eight iron looked to be on the back of the green, but showed up in the back-side sand trap, making for a tough out that would finally be holed for bogey.

Hole 17: Par 3 (169/163/136/120/91)
15. Castle at the Bay #3 (194/170/164/160/158):
A fanatastic replica of the 16th hole at Augusta, known as “Rosebud,” the third at the Castle course is absolutely gorgeous to look at, but very tough to play!
The long water hazard down the middle of the layout on this hole replaces what would otherwise be fairway, and cozies up to the bottom of the green area. The green is rather narrow, but long. It slopes severely downhill from the back to the front, and three strategically placed sand traps will make for a hellacious shot on to the green. Anything hit above the pin will roll downhill fast, and is almost likely to roll off and into the pond.
Hole 3: Par 3 (194/170/164/160/158)

16. Edgewood, Oaks Course #14 (178/153/141/104):

Featuring another fantastic island layout, the fourteenth is the signature hole of the fantastic back nine on Edgewood’s Oaks course. From elevated tee boxes, the green is absolutely huge, and is affronted by a long sand trap and water on all sides.

Hole 14: Par 3 (178/153/141/104)

17. Hawks Landing #17 (164/135/135/114/97):

Another fantastic island hole, the 17th at Hawks Landing is visible from the road that leads to both Hawks Landing and University Ridge. This is a gorgeously done green area, with a railroad-tied face holding the green above the pond in front. The pond creeps all the way to the front of the green, so carrying the water is absolutely essential on this hole.
Hole 17: Par 3 (164/135/135/114/97)

18. Washington County #14 (197/175/147/92):

The fourteenth at Washington County begins on elevated tee boxes, and tees off over a pond that fronts and lines the left side of the green area. The green slopes heavily toward the water, making the sand trap on the right side quite difficult to play from. There is a small bailout area short and to the right, but the only safe play is to the green itself.

Hole 14: Par 3 (197/175/147/92)
Click here to view this original article on GolfWisconsin.com!

Golf mini-trip to Madison next weekend

A couple of my buddies and I are heading to Madison next weekend to play University Ridge and the Legend at Bergamont. We are looking for one more course to play in the afternoon, and right now are considering Hawk’s Landing and The Oaks.

Any good suggestions for another awesome Madison area course to fill in the afternoon? Thanks!