Golf Course Review: Hawks View Como Crossings

The night before Labor Day, my friend Eric and I decided we wanted to get a round in early on Monday morning. The problem was that most clubhouses were already closed, and those that weren’t either had minimal availability or else higher rates for the holiday weekend.
So, as I do often, I went online to GolfNow to start looking for available tee times and good deals. Eric had to get back to Chicago in the late afternoon, and was not willing to travel more than an hour to play. I took advantage of this by checking out the Lake Geneva area, and came across a course I have wanted to play for years: Hawks View’s Como Crossings.
My friend, Mike, played Hawks View a couple weekends ago for a bachelor party, and reported back that the course was awesome. His one complaint is the same one complaint that I have: It would be nice to have a set of tees between the extremely long blacks (7,074 yards) and the medium-range blues (6,595 yards). 7,000 yards is just too long for me, and for most double-digit handicappers. At 6,210, the white tees were out of the question.
That being said, the 6,595 for the blue tees was comfortable while still challenging. The par fives were a little on the short side: 512 for the seventh, 492 on the ninth, a meaty 550 on the tenth, and 501 on the fourteenth. The par fours are very interesting, but I found myself hitting driver-wedge on almost all of them. The longest of the par fours is the 415-yard thirteenth, which is one of just two par fours over 400 yards.
The course is pretty open off the tees. Errant tee shots will find sand and water, but very infrequently woods. I personally love that!
The clubhouse is very nice, with a huge pro shop, really nice bar and grill area, and very classy wood-laden restrooms/locker rooms. The driving range was alright – you can hit for miles, but the target greens are built in to a hillside that raises extremely high, making it very difficult to gauge distance. The grass on the range is more than adequate, though, and I was happy about that.
A quick stop at the practice green (pretty quick – probably around a nine on the stimp meter) precluded our journey to the first hole tee boxes, and I wish I would have spent a little more time on it – it probably could have helped me avoid at least one of my six three-putts of the day.
We made our drive to the first hole tee boxes, which gave us our first view of the drastic difference in yardage between the black and blue tees. The blacks played over a vast wide prairie area, while the blues were on the other side and featured a straight shot down the fairway. The tee shot is a bit deceiving: The left side is a little more open than it looks, but the fairway falls off to rough and then to fescue. I hit a bomb on down the left side on this hole, which was swallowed up by the fescue and would prove to be my only lost ball of the day.
Hole 1: Par 4 (441/366/350/321/309)
The on-cart GPS tells you all you will need to know off the tee on the second hole. Water is 230 yards away, so take less than driver and try to cut it. A huge wooden statue of a hawk guards the left side of the fairway, and gives a good aiming point off the tee. Most of the right side is blind, but the fairway juts that direction slightly with a hillside that will usher slightly right balls back down toward the short grass. The hole finishes over a small creek that is surrounded by rough.
Hole 2: Par 4 (365/355/331/319/280)

Hole 2: Par 4 (365/355/331/319/280)
The third hole is the first of two extraordinarily elevated par threes at Como Crossings. At 183 yards, this tee shot is considerably longer than the other elevated par three seventeenth. With a wide green, make sure to measure the right distance and wail away. Then, if possible, try to get on the relevant side of the green. The pin was right for our round, and I hit the left side to set up a perfect three-putt opportunity from about 60 feet.
Hole 3: Par 3 (215/183/152/119/92)
Hole 3: Par 3 (215/183/152/119/92)

The fourth is a nice downhill par four that measures 386 yards from the blue tees. The fairway is as tree-lined as any at Hawks View, but the driving area is wide and very hittable. A good drive will receive a charitable downhill run, and the green is widely unprotected from the front, left and right.
Hole 4: Par 4 (415/386/361/336/280)
Behind the fourth hole green is the black tee box for the fifth hole. The blacks tee off over a sizable prairie area, while the blue, white and gold tees are 82 yards shorter and have a much easier, more direct tee shot. This small green is protected by a large sand trap on the left side, and is elevated to add to its difficulty.
Hole 5: Par 4 (460/378/365/352/316)
The sixth hole is a gorgeous par three over water. The front and left side are embanked with a stone barrier, while the right side is wide open for bailout. This huge green is steeply sloped toward the water.
Hole 6: Par 3 (194/180/165/150/123)

Hole 6: Par 3 (194/180/165/150/123)
Seven is one of my favorite holes at Como Crossings, and was certainly one of Eric’s after he two-hopped a 30-yard bunker shot straight in to the cup for eagle. The tee shot can be played straight toward the central sand trap, which is about 270 yards from the blue tees. The right side can also be used, but can find some awkward lies behind trees and on a number of mounds off the fairway. The second shot can be played considerably right to stay away from the water, while the approach has to carry a plethora of sand traps to a risen green. The left side of the green features another fairway that can be used long of the fairway bunkers.
Hole 7: Par 5 (527/512/486/441/382)
The eighth is one of the more elementary holes at Como Crossings, with a straight-away layout that measures 408 yards from the blue tees. Carry the right side sand trap for an ideal approach in.
Hole 8: Par 4 (433/408/394/361/324)
Nine is the second of Hawks View’s four par fives. At 492 yards, it is also the shortest. Woods lines the left side, and should be avoided at all costs. The traps short-left and long-right are the key hazards to avoid, but the front-right hole location left a sliding putt that proved difficult to hole.
Following the short par five ninth is the course’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)

Hole 10: Par 5 (600/550/539/515/507)

Hole 10: Par 5 (600/550/539/515/507)
Hole 10: Par 5 (600/550/539/515/507)
Eleven is the longest of the par threes at Hawks View, at 205 yards from the blue tees. The green is sloped heavily from the right to the left, so the right side is the best target area. Don’t overhit the green right, though, or else find a tough downhill approach that will be very difficult to hold.
Hole 11: Par 3 (213/205/182/159/114)
A shorter par four, the twelfth green is best approached from the right side, but tee shots must carry a large fairway bunker to be safe. The left side can be used, but water is about 260 yards away, and the approach will likely have to carry it to hit the green safely.
Hole 12: Par 4 (395/387/351/315/283)
Finishing up twelve, the thirteen runs along the opposite side of the same pond and requires a tee shot that stays considerably right for the best approach. The green is quite highly risen, and a back pin location makes for a very challenging two-putt situation.
Hole 13: Par 4 (424/415/375/342/303)
Fourteen is one of the holes shown on Como Crossing’s website. A picturesque garden area and waterfall resides on the left side of the driving area, and actually has a sign that reads ‘Free drop from the garden.” This is awfully generous, for sure, but was used by my friend to keep par in play. The right side has a few more hazards to watch out for, including large trees and a small pond around the tee boxes of the previous hole. This par five finishes over a bevy of huge sand traps, and a green that is split by a substantial wall that separates the left from the right side.
Hole 14: Par 5 (509/501/474/440/413)

Hole 14: Par 5 (509/501/474/440/413)
The tee shot on fifteen looks intimidating from the scorecard, but the left side water hazard is short and can be carried with a drive over 200 yards and some change. The right side is accessible, too, but can leave a tricky stance for the approach shot that follows.
Hole 15: Par 4 (410/382/372/345/330)
Sixeen is a short par four that actually reminded me of several holes from University Ridge. With woods on both sides of the fairway, a straight tee shot is important. At just 345 yards from the blue tees, hit whatever club you hit straight and focus on locating the tee shot for the best possible uphill approach.
Hole 16: Par 4 (354/345/312/280/239)
Leaving the green on sixteen gives a beautiful view of the skyward tee boxes of seventeen. Located atop the old Mt. Fuji Ski Hill, the back tee boxes afford a view of much of the surrounding Delavan and Lake Geneva area, and 87 feet down to the putting surface of this gorgeous par three. At 153 yards, the wind was swirling, 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 made for bogey.
Hole 17: Par 3 (169/153/136/120/91)
Hole 17: Par 3 (169/153/136/120/91)
Eighteen proved to be the easiest hole of the day for both of us. A downhill drive to a liberally wide fairway was simple enough to hit, and was best played to the right side. This right side kept the front, back and left greenside bunkers out of the equation on a shallow green with a right-side pin. Eric tapped in for birdie on this hole, while I had a simple enough par.
Hole 18: Par 4 (424/397/381/337/313)
We both agreed that Como Crossings was the perfect place to get in a round on Labor Day weekend. At $70 on GolfNow, the cost was a little steep, but the course experience turned out to be well worth it.
Lake Geneva provides an ideal location for attracting golfers from both the Milwaukee and Chicago areas, which is nice for golf buddies like Eric (from Chicago) and myself (Milwaukee area). Just under an hour from Menomonee Falls, the drive was merited by a great course on a nearly perfect, albeit muggy, September day.
In an area that has a number of phenomenal golf courses (three at Geneva National, two at Grand Geneva, and Abbey Springs), Hawks View’s Como Crossings is one of my three favorite tracks in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
Course Wrap-Up:
Location: Lake Geneva, WI
Yardage: Black-7074, Blue-6595, White-6210, Gold-5701, Red-5115
Slope/Rating: Black-133/73.1, Blue-128/71.0, White-124/69.2, Gold-118/66.9, Red-115/69.3
Par: 72
Weekend Rates (with cart): $85

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 Public Golf Courses

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.

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
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.

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
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.

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
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.

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
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.

5. SentryWorld (Stevens Point, WI):

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

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)

Golf.com’s Top 15 Public Courses in Wisconsin (2012)

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