Most Popular Blog Posts of All Time for WSA

I always think it’s interesting to look at the blog posts that are most popular on my site, especially over time.

It is no surprise to me that the most highly clicked-on post that I have ever written was also one of the very first: My Top 10 Courses in the State of Wisconsin. This post, which debuted on August 6, 2011, has been updated throughout the years to always stay relevant. Interestingly, it did not change much this year as I played very few public courses. A goal of mine for 2014 is to start up a similar ongoing “Top 10” list for Wisconsin’s private country clubs (this will obviously take some help).

Why would this be the most popular post all-time? The fact that it’s been posted for longer than 137 out of the other 138 posts on my blog might contribute slightly, but my guess is that it has more to do with search engine optimization and the words people will put in to Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc: “Wisconsin top ten golf courses,” for example, has been an awfully popular route.

The second most popular post in the history of my blog was my review of The National Course at Fox Hills, in Mishicot. The National is a very interesting links-style course that a lot of people in our area have heard of and seen pictures of, so there is certainly mystique surrounding it in the Milwaukee area. More importantly, though, Fox Hills linked my very positive review of their course to the golf course’s home page – I hope this has been as successful of a marketing tool for them as it has proven to be for my blog!

The third most popular blog post that I have written was my review of Erin Hills. No surprise here. In addition to a similar article that I wrote on the same course experience for GolfWisconsin, over 3,000 people have tuned in to my writing on the 2017 site of the U.S. Open.

The fourth most popular article in the history of my blog is one that I would not have expected: “Achievement of One of My Lifetime Goals: Country Club Membership at North Hills.” This was a little blurb I put together about my excitement for joining the club, and the processes that made North Hills the right choice for me. Considering how many people have clicked on this, I hope it has helped others also put together a rudimentary thought process when considering the decision to go private, or continue to hop from public course to public course, paying along the way.

The fifth and sixth most popular articles are my 2011 Golf Year in Review, followed by my 2012 Golf Year in Review. With such a short season this year, and my joining a private club, I actually played very few public courses and have not really seen a reason to write a year in review for 2013 – who would be interested in seeing constant accolades from the same 4 or 5 courses? 🙂

Rounding out the top fifteen all-time most popular articles on WiscoSportsAddict, as of January 6, 2014:

7.) Review of the Brute at Grand Geneva (4/16/2012)

8.) Review of the Links at Lawsonia (10/13/2011)

9.) Review of the Woodlands at Lawsonia (10/11/2011)

10.) Review of the Irish at Whistling Straits (10/19/2011)

11.) Wisconsin’s Top Ten Par 3 Holes (10/23/2011)

12.) Review of the Palmer at Geneva National (4/19/2012)

13.) Review of Cog Hill No. 4 Dubsdread (10/9/2012)

14.) Review of the River at Blackwolf Run (10/2/2012)

15.) Review of the Bull at Pinehurst Farms (11/28/2011)

Golf Course Photo Gallery: Ironwood (Meath, Callow)

Last year, my buddy Nick started up an annual golf tournament called the “Member/Guest Tournament.” We held it last year at Silver Spring Country Club, and the inaugural tourney was won by Mike Heerey (Tuckaway CC), and “Whoever he played with.” It turns out that was Nick, who claims he contributed on a hole or two.

We can always be pretty sure that Mike will win it, because he’s a really good golfer.

For this year’s member/guest tournament, though, Mike was teamed up with his friend, Dan, and playing in the same grouping as my friend, Jason, and me. Jason, one of my best friends from college at UW-La Crosse, is probably my favorite person in the world to hang out with, but has only played golf a handful of times in his life. I figured we were donating money for this gambling event.

It turned out, though, that Jason’s game is going pretty well, and my ball-striking has turned for the better in the past couple of weeks since playing a round with a member at North Hills Country Club, Bob. I double-bogeyed the par four third hole on the Meath course at Ironwood, but still shot 40 on the front. I am sad to say, but that was my best nine holes of the entire 2013 golf season.

Ironwood Meath Hole 3: Par 4 (278/273/235/204)

Mike’s back was in a lot of pain, and he was grimacing after every shot like Tiger Woods when he’s not playing well. Dan, on the other hand, played very well, and finished with a 78. Even though Mike probably shot his worst round of the year, the Heerey team won as it always should. My guess is that Jason and I probably finished in third place, which is not too shabby!

Located in Lisbon, Wisconsin, but with a Sussex address, Ironwood is the Milwaukee area’s king of group outings.

Growing up in Hartland, Ironwood is a course I have been very familiar with for decades. I played there growing up, and during my freshman year on the golf team at Arrowhead High School, and quite a few times since then.

My favorite nine at Ironwood is their newest nine, the Birr. For our tournament, though, we played the Meath and Callow courses, which are their original two. Of the two, I love the Meath, and especially the aforementioned third hole on the Meath that I happened to double-bogey during my round to keep me from playing this “Front nine” under 40.

Here are photos from this past Saturday morning’s round at Ironwood Golf Course, starting on the Meath course and then going to the Callow:

Meath Hole 2: Par 3 (202/195/160/135)
Hole 2: Par 3 (202/195/160/135)

The ultimate risk/reward hole, the third on the Meath course is just 278 yards from the tips, but plays to a green on a peninsula lined with water on three sides. The left side is quite open, so the smart play is to strike the ball down the left side with a long iron, and play a wedge in.

If the tee shot is sliced, the right half of the fairway can be played, but leaves a tough shot over water to a heavily sloped green.

Hole 3: Par 4 (278/273/235/204)
 
Hole 4: Par 4 (340/336/302/269)
 
The key to the fifth hole is to stay away from the left side of the driving area. The entire right side can be played out of the rough, but the fence down the property line left must be avoided. This is a long par four with a mostly blind tee shot, and some pretty difficult hole locations.
 
Hole 5: Par 4 (440/434/387/338)
 
The sixth on the Meath course is a tricky par five if it is the first time you have played the course. The hole layout begs golfers to hit through the treeline straight away. Like a hole you know all too well on Golden Tee, though, the smartest play for long hitters is to aim right of the right-side treeline and leave yourself the opportunity to hit away on the second shot.
 
Hole 6: Par 5 (547/541/498/374)

After hitting a great tee shot in the fairway on the sixth, here is how I was rewarded with one potential second shot: A drawn knocked-down six-iron around the tree.

Hole 6: Par 5 (547/541/498/374)

Here is more of what you can see with a shot played to the right side of the treeline on the sixth hole:

Hole 6: Par 5 (547/541/498/374)
 
The seventh hole on the Meath has one of the most accentuated ridges running from back to front half-way through the green. At a tournament I played in here two years ago, one guy in my group actually five-putted this hole. Another four-putted it.
 
Hole 7: Par 3 (149/144/129/97)
 
A short par five, the eighth can be best played with a high draw over the left-side treeline. I have eagled this hole a number of times in the past. One member in our group on Saturday, Dan, had about a six-footer for eagle that he missed, but converted for birdie.
 
Hole 8: Par 5 (494/487/460/359)
Hole 8: Par 5 (494/487/460/359)
 
Hole 9: Par 4 (411/405/362/310)
 

Callow Hole 1: Par 4 (376/366/321/280)
 
Hole 2: Par 4 (337/328/293/234)
 
Hole 3: Par 5 (569/565/539/445)
 
Hole 4: Par 3 (223/214/174/118)
Hole 4: Par 3 (223/214/174/118)
 
Hole 5: Par 4 (374/368/315/269)
Hole 5: Par 4 (374/368/315/269)
 

Hole 6: Par 3 (160/156/135/81)
 
Hole 7: Par 5 (500/496/447/425)
Hole 7: Par 5 (500/496/447/425)
Hole 7: Par 5 (500/496/447/425)
 
Hole 8: Par 4 (333/330/308/247)
 
Hole 9: Par 4 (417/410/367/196)
 


Course Wrap-Up:
Location: Sussex, WI
Yardage: Black-6,522, Blue-6,412, White-5,755, Red-4,672
Par: 72
Weekend Rates: $62.00 (including cart)

Golf Course Review: Edgewood

The Oaks at Edgewood is the story of two drastically different golf courses.
The facilities at Edgewood are nice, with a full driving range, putting green, and sand/chipping areas. The course boasts two 18-hole layouts, but the story of these is “the new nine,” which is the back nine of the Oaks.
The front nine plays like most 30-plus year old courses: Not particularly long, but the fairway bends, subtle changes in elevation, and tightness between tree lines make you consider your club selection, while a number of holes with considerable water add a little difficulty.
The on-board GPS was an appreciated addition, and most of the course itself is in pretty decent shape. Dampness left areas of the fairways a bit bludgeoned, but that was unavoidable given the recent Wisconsin fall weather. The tee boxes are in rough shape, though, and it is very difficult to find clean grass areas on even ground. Not quite as bad as at Dretzka, but unnerving, nonetheless.
The back nine, on the other hand, is phenomenal. Crossing the street to this new nine, I was pretty unimpressed with my Edgewood golf experience so far. For $35, it was well in line with what I’d expected.
Walking up to the tenth hole engages a new, excited feeling. The tee shot looks out at a short waste area that looks deceptively deep from the tee boxes, with long fairway bunkers and an otherwise open driving area. I chose a three-hybrid and hit even with the fairway bunker on the right, thinking I hit short and would have a long approach. Heading over the hill, the fairway was much more open than I’d expected, and the beauty of Edgewood’s back nine was suddenly visible.
Even the greens are 180 degrees different. While the front nine’s greens are small and relatively unexciting (with the exception of the eighth hole, which was a formidably challenging postage stamp), the back nine features massive greens with significant slope. The tenth hole (which I should consider “the first hole of the back nine”) serves as a fantastic introduction to this new and improved style of golf course.
Hole 10: Par 4 (451/416/404/370)
Hole 10: Par 4 (451/416/404/370)
The 11th hole is fun, as well. With highly elevated tee boxes, the green is once again large with a wide open feel. Several well-placed sand traps will penalize errant sand traps, but a well-struck tee shot should be rewarded with putts or a short chip shot.
Hole 11: Par 3 (197/169/159/133)
The 12th is a long par five. At 519 yards, the tee shot is quite intimidating for left-to-right hitters. One in our group was able to play the draw, and the rest of us found trouble to the right. Significant mounding on the right side of the fairway leads to a drop-off in to wasteland, but the fairway is otherwise wide enough to be fair, and ends with a sharp dogleg left about 400 yards from the tee boxes.
Hole 12: Par 5 (555/519/503/463)
13 is an intimidating tee shot, as well. Tight over water and between trees, the first shot almost reminds me of the seventh at Ironwood’s Meath course. The fairway turns right, so the tendency is to play the drive down the middle and allow it to follow the fairway, but beyond the initial patch of trees on the right side is a large pond and marsh area that will take anything cut excessively. The left side of the fairway served as the right option.
Hole 13: Par 4 (397/364/303/268)
14 was a very pleasant surprise. Following a fairly lengthy drive through trees (I would not recommend walking this course), the cart path opens to elevated tee boxes overlooking a beautiful island hole. This gorgeous par three, measured at 153 yards from the white tee boxes, features a wide, deep green surrounded in front by a long sand trap and on all sides by water. The wind comes into play a ton on this hole. After initially splashing a 9-iron in the water, I found my seven to be the right club selection.
Hole 14: Par 3 (178/153/141/104)
Hole 14: Par 3 (178/153/141/104)
This fantastic stretch of holes continues on the 15th. A par five over 500 yards (550 from the tips, and 510 from the white tees), the entire fairway is lined by trees and the Fox River on the left, and the same huge pond of the 14th hole down the right side. From the left side of the fairway, the second shot was the most difficult for me, requiring almost 200 yards to cut the end of the pond, and stay away from the trees that jutted out from the left side.
Hole 15: Par 5 (550/510/483/450)
Leaving this tough par five, the 16th seems almost easy. It is tough to tell from the tee boxes that the left side is actually fairly open. Long fairway bunkers make you think a long tee shot is necessary, but the only real trouble on this hole is the fescue and woods to the right.
Hole 16: Par 4 (396/359/343/311)
At 402 yards with a dogleg to the left, the 17th hole begins with tee boxes between trees that allow you to see only the right side of the fairway, and a fountain from the pond that can not yet be seen. The more confident drivers in our group hit driver from these tee boxes, while I went three wood to not over-drive the fairway. The right side is a great area to approach from, but the second shot will be long if you hit anything but driver from the tees. This was one of the fastest and most heavily sloped greens on this back nine.
Hole 17: Par 4 (414/402/390/361)
Hole 17: Par 4 (414/402/390/361)
The new nine at Edgewood finishes in tremendous fashion. With a blind uphill tee shot, the hole map shows a dogleg left, and there is a tall birdhouse that is visible on the right side of the fairway. This birdhouse serves as a great target for your tee shot. Aim slightly left of this and you will be rewarded with an excellent look at the elevated green. The sand trap left and short of the green is huge, so holding the right side is a sound strategy.
Hole 18: Par 4 (364/352/339/263)
Rating Edgewood is difficult for me. While the front nine of the Oaks was nothing to write home about, the back nine is a must-play!
In contrast to a course like Fairways of Woodside, the two sides at Edgewood are so incredibly different that a single score or rating can not be achieved in aggregate. I feel that it is not only necessary, but fair to the new nine to split them up for an appropriate review. Including the front brings down the back, while there is no way to rate individual scores for the greens and general layout for its full 18. There is effectively no general layout or consistency. However, only one score can be used on my blog, so an average of the two nines will be used.
How does such an inconsistent golf course happen, you ask? I was curious as well, and asked the course’s manager. The original 18-hole Pines course (not reviewed here, but I am told it is similar to the front nine of the Oaks) was built in 1969, and the front nine of the Oaks was added in 1971. Not until 11 years ago was the back nine added. The advances during those 29 years in golf course architecture and layout are unavoidably evident, and are beautifully exacted to help mold this glacial terrain in Big Bend in to a fantastic golf course.

Hole 1: Par 4 (440/428/420/395)
Hole 3: Par 3 (210/196/164/149)
Hole 4: Par 4 (343/327/292/277)
Hole 5: Par 5 (488/471/431/401)
Hole 6: Par 4 (439/426/383/338)
Hole 6: Par 4 (439/426/383/338)
Hole 7: Par 4 (378/365/345/305)
Hole 9: Par 5 (493/481/448/417)
Course Wrap-up:
Location: Big Bend, WI
Yardage: Blue-6783, White-6414, Gold-5983, Red-5411
Slope/Rating: Blue-134/72.3, White-130/71.6, Gold-126/68.9, Red-126/70.8
Par: 72

Course Review: Rock River Hills

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