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6th Annual Wisconsin Golf Guide 2002
by Art McCafferty

Planes, Ships and Automobiles:

Between them, Wisconsin and Michigan have over 1600 golf courses. Alas, these golf riches are not easily enjoyed by either state. Obviously, our bordering water hole, Lake Michigan, has basically kept us apart since our statehood. While that will not change soon, there are still a number of ways to sample these golf treasures.

Planes-Obviously the quickest way there is to jump onto a plane at Metro, Grand Rapids or Flint to catch a Milwaukee bound flight. Many carriers serve the market; with Northwest, United and Skyway Airlines (a subsidiary of Midwest Express) being three that come to mind. Ticket prices vary, but we picked a $160 ticket out of Flint without too much waiting for rates to change. Bishop Airport is a growing one, but generally, it is a still a quick in and out trip. Ships- Another and certainly a more adventurous way to travel to and >from the states is to take the SS Badger across Lake Michigan. I have made the sailing a number of times and it is just terrific. Frankly, as I write this story, I am looking out of the Upper Deck Café windows for signs of the Michigan coastline to appear. I have just golfed in Wisconsin for four days, have an adult beverage close at hand. It really is a restful journey.

Each year, the SS Badger carries thousands of automobiles and passengers during its two a day crossings in the summer and one a day trips in late spring and fall. Increasingly, they are finding out that golfers are beginning to discover the Michigan-Wisconsin Golf Trail. and Don Clingan of the SS Badger and both have been promoting the Sail and Play programs. http://www.ssbadger.com

Automobiles-Obviously, the most way to get there is by automobile. If coming down from the UP the highways are smaller, but far less crowded. However, when you take the Chicago route, be wary of the incredible traffic jams you will find there. They are not fun.

The Green Bay -Appleton area is one of a number of out state markets targeted by Travel Michigan. Basically, they want to attract Wisconsin tourists to the Upper Peninsula, or to the mid-west coast of Michigan.

I was surprised at the amount of Wisconsin people that had played Michigan courses. They know a lot about our golf courses and certainly plan to revisit them soon.

However, our job here is to alert you to what you will find as you explore Wisconsin Golf. We have reported on Wisconsin Golf in three of their four identified regions. We have not visited the Northwest quadrant of Wisconsin in the six years we have been doing this, perhaps next year. The MG staff has visited the courses listed below. If you would care to share any of your experiences with us, feel free to contact us at info@michigangolfer.com


The spectacular Alpine GC near Egg Harbor.

Alpine Golf
This resort has been providing enjoyment for families for 80 years. Now 27 holes, owner Bill Bertschinger, plans soon to add an additional nine holes. Of the three, the Blue course is the most fun to play. The Blue nine gets golfers up into the highlands of the area, where bare limestone peeks from everywhere. Of particular note, is the 250 yard par 4, 9th hole. With a Treetops+ sized drop, middle distance hitters can drive the green and putt for an eagle. Again, the course has been there for 80 years and they do know how to take care of the golfing public. You can spend an enjoyable time playing 9, 18 or if the spirit moves you, 27.

7670 Highway
Egg Harbor, WI 54209

Fox Hills Resort
Fox Hills is a massive golf resort complex with 45 holes of golf, a hotel, condos, two indoor and two outdoor swimming pools, two pro shops, locker rooms and a fine restaurant. While they offer a lot of golf, the 45 holes are there for a reason, so call and get a teetime.

250 W. Church St.
Mishicot 54228

The incredible 18th hole at Horseshoe Bay.

Horseshoe Bay GC
Door County's Horseshoe Bay, located within Green Bay, is Wisconsin's answer to our Traverse City and its peninsula. It is a spectacular area of history, recreation, Chicago, fun and water. Horseshoe Bay GC was designed by Rick Robbins and Brian Lussier. Robbins also worked with Gary Koch in designing the Otsego Club's Tribute.

The golf business is the culmination of an 80-year dream of the Frank Cowles family. They were visionaries in the dairy business in Wisconsin and extremely successful. Their barn shaped clubhouse is a replica of the famous Cowles barn of the past. It is also home to Murphy's Bar and Grill.

We thoroughly enjoyed the course and found that the traps seemed to find everybody's game. The course features little water but numerous traps. There are a number of outcroppings of rock, primarily because they only could dynamite just so much of the course. The Double Delicious 13th hole provides a double fairway and the 14th, named, Udderly Dangerous, is can live up quickly to its name. The 18th hole, which finishes next to the members clubhouse is a spectacular hole that drops down through a limestone walled boundary on the one side and a sharp drop-off in back of the green, where golfers will be able to view Horseshoe Bay. This is a very special hole and is one that will bring you back for more.

Rick Robbins indicated that they wanted to create a modern golf course with a 'turn of the century feel' feel. It certainly has all of that. It is a semi private course, so you need to call and get the lowdown.


Lake Arrowhead
"Certainly, we have all heard the marketing term, "best kept secret" in describing a golf course property. In this case, the term is not used but should be. Our foursome has traveled the Wisconsin fairways for over 10 years now and this was about the best "find" that we have come upon. What an absolutely delightful 36 holes of golf. The general manager has Michigan roots, having served at Michigan's Sugar Springs for a number of years.

The Orchards GC in Door County.

Orchards GC
When we were doing a Bill Newcomb Internet television show early in 2001, he mentioned that we just had to go and see his newest gem, the Orchards located in Door County, Wisconsin. Bill should be justifiable proud of his handiwork, as Orchards is a very enjoyable course.

The course has just recently opened and one expects some growing pains. However, the greens were in surprising good shape and drew rave reviews from our group. At the Orchards you will find an excellent course by Bill Newcomb. Bill has been at this quite a while and he is able to deliver some terrific bang for the buck. He has developed courses in Alaska, Ohio, Indiana, California, Wisconsin and, of course, Michigan.

We found the course new and refreshing. The clubhouse area was imaginative in design and offered good food service. The basic grilled chicken breast sandwich was right on the money. Newcomb gives you a lot of different looks at the Orchards. This is not necessarily easy as you can see most of the course from its center. Remember this is a land taken from an orchard and many of the trees within the course are apple or plum. Bill does have some land to be expansive in. The final three holes features a breather par 3 between two magnificent par 5's are a memorable finish. We also liked a short par 4, the 13th at 315 >from the blacks and the 275 from the whites that we played. All of us were close by on our drive, but all took par 4's. The environment around the green was all that we could handle.

8125 Elm Road
Egg Harbor, WI 54209

*There are a couple of lodging facilities that put together golf packages in Door County, Landmark Hotel and Condominiums being one of them.

Peninsula GC
I spent a delightful cart ride with Jason Dauber, GM of the course. He is a former graduate of Ferris State University's Professional Golf Management School and worked at Blackwolf Run before he landed this job.

The Peninsula GC is one of two State of Wisconsin golf facilities. It gets a tremendous amount of play in the summer time, due to its friendly prices and excellent course. It was one of the few on the peninsula for quite some time. Golfers will find a terrific course with great vistas of the peninsula, Green Bay and the lovely little town of Ephraim.

The Bull
The Bull, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course in Sheboygan Falls, will come on board in late summer of 2002. Golfers will encounter rolling meadows, dense tree stands, wetlands, the Onion River, and a number of additional water challenges. Glacial ridges come into play on many of the holes and provide challenges throughout the course.

We had the chance to explore a couple of holes with owner Dave Bachman and share his excitement. You can share the same excitement by pulling up their web site. You will see some of the emerging holes as well as the visit by Jack and his entourage.

Sheboygan Falls, WI 53085


Christmas Mountain
This is a year around resort that serves the golf and skiing markets. You will a very nice resort course, surrounded by pine trees and rolling land. A number of its holes take advantage of the ski area. It is a comparable experience to our own Apple Mountain. It is marketed under the umbrella of the Wisconsin Dells

5944 Christmas Mountain Rd.
Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965

Coldwater Canyon
Opened for play in 1923, Coldwater Canyon is one of the older tracts in Wisconsin. Designed by J.C. Wilson of the Chicago Golf Commission. It was entirely built with horse drawn equipment. It is a real step back in time.

4065 River Rd.
Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965

Devils Head Resort
This is one of the storied resorts in Wisconsin. It has a delightful 18 holes with Otsego Club like terrain and charm. There are 250 guestrooms, indoor and outdoor pools, hot tub, tennis courts, convention facilities and skiing to temp the consumer.

6330 Bluff Rd
Merrimac, WI 53561
800-338-4579 or 800-472-6670

Lawsonia GC
Golf Digest rates their 36 holes in the top 10 courses in the state. The original course features buried box cars built into the fairways for bunkers. Some Wisconsin folks compare some of the holes to those cartoons you see that feature the world's toughest holes. The second 18 is typical of the up north golf you find in Michigan.

Route 1
Green Lake, WI

The Springs Golf Club Resort
You will absolutely love this place. It has a golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones and a hotel and conference facility designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. I mean, really, where do you go from there? It is an awesome twosome. You find yourself giving equal attention to the golf course while sneaking peaks at the building. A first rate property. It has a St. Ives feeling of elegance.

Trappers Turn
Designed by Roger Packard and Andy North. Packard has designed 200 courses worldwide, including a remodeling of famed Medinah, the site of the 1990 US Open. It is located on a spectacular piece of ground. It is one of those places that a glacier paused long enough to carve out some interesting canyons. It also features a spacious learning center and a beautiful clubhouse with a view of Mystic Lake. It has a ninth hole that features an uphill shot to the green with a nearby waterfall giving it some drama. It is flat out gorgeous. The course has hosted the Wisconsin Open, Wisconsin P.G.A. Championship from 1997-99 and Wisconsin Senior Open

652 Trappers Turn Dr,
Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965

University Ridge
Wisconsinite friend, Mike Beckman says that this is Wisconsin's Little House on the Prairie course. The front nine is on land that signals the beginning of the prairie in Wisconsin. The back nine is entirely within a forest. Robert Trent Jones was the architect and he certainly left some of his magic behind. It is the best of both worlds for Midwest golfers. There are some memorable holes on the Ridge and it is very challenging. On Wisconsin!!

7120 County Trunk PD
Verona, Wi 53593

Wilderness Hotel and Golf Resort
This is a storied resort that has undergone a serious upgrade in the past five years. It is a resort that featured some serious water recreation on property and had a nine-hole course to serve their guests. The original nine was not that imaginative. However, a few years ago, they built a new nine and renovated the original nine. The back nine is as good as you will find anywhere.

It is a great place to bring kids. They have water slides, huge out door pools and other out door fund amenities.

Their Golf Academy was established in 1941, with past alumnus including Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Carol Burnett, Milton Berle, Morey Amsterdam and Dwight Eisenhower

511 E. Adams St.
Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965


Abbey Springs GC
This Killian and Nugent designed course features some twisting holes, which bend within the hills. Accuracy on this course is paramount, so you will be using the driver a little less than normal. It is tight and you will more than likely have to negotiate some punch shots under trees if you stray very far from the fairway. Holes 10 and 17 are very special. The 10th is an uphill shot of such beauty, you will wish you had brought a camera. The 17th is you usual spectacular par-3.

South Shore Dr.
Fontana, WI 53125

The Bog
This is an Arnold Palmer's signature course that features a 30-acre practice facility. Golf Digest as one of America's Best New Golf Courses rated it in 1996. The course setting is 300 pastoral acres of wetlands, woods, rolling hills and wildlife habitat. Palmer noted that this design was influenced by the traditionalists Donald Ross, Alister MacKenzie and Harry Colt. It has a 10,500 sq. ft clubhouse This is an upscale course with rate into three figures, but you will find it extremely well maintained. To be sure, you will find plenty of water, reeds grasses and wetlands. They call it The Bog for good reason.

3121 Cty. Hwy 1
Saulkville, WI 53086
800-4 The Bog

The fabulous 18th hole at Whistling Straits.

Blackwolf Run-Whistling Straits-Kohler
For those that keep up with the Top 100 courses in the U.S. you will have noted the quick ascendancy of the Blackwolf Run River Course and the new Whistling Straits, two of four outstanding courses a Kohler. Each of the courses has an attractive sibling. The River Course was joined a number of years ago, by the Meadows. Fifteen minutes from the American Club, Pete Dye designed Whistling Straits and followed that up with the Irish Course last year. Of the Blackwolf Run property, Dye said, "There could not be a better natural setting for golf." His comments for Whistling Straits, "I should say this with some degree of modesty. In my lifetime I've never seen anything like this. Anyplace. Period."

The world has indeed noticed. In 1998, after holding a number of prestigious state and national tournaments, Golf Kohler exploded on the scene with astounding success of the 1998 U.S. Women's Open Championship. It broke several records for the event, including attendance, a whopping 123,000 and the longest, which included a playoff round and then two playoff holes. It was one of the most exciting matches in golf ever.

In 2004 the PGA Championship will be held at Whistling Straits, an awesome prize for such a young course. "Whistling Straits will provide the perfect test for the world's best golfers, "said PGA President Will Mann.

Whistling Straits, the newest from the mind of legendary Pete Dye and the vision of Herbert Kohler Jr., embraces two miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. Fourteen holes are within a Tiger two iron of the water. Dye brought in 800,000 cubic yards of sand and sculpted a bit of Ireland and a touch of Scotland. "The size of the dunes reminds one of Ballybunion (old) and Royal Birkdale," said John Morrissett of the USGA.

The American Club is the only AAA Five Diamond Hotel in the Midwest. Famed golfers all over the world come to play these courses, and just as importantly, world hospitality leaders visit The American Club to see how a AAA Five Diamond Resort performs. The service at the American Club is utterly amazing.

1111 W. Riverside Dr.
Kohler, WI 53044

The 15th hole at the Gary Player course at the Geneva National GC

Geneva National G.C.
The Geneva National is a wonderful resort property in Wisconsin. It is semi-private, with one of their three courses: a Trevino, Player or Palmer tract, set aside each day for the membership.

This was Palmer's first Wisconsin course. A number of its holes share the coastline of Lake Como. The 17th hole is a beauty that rises up 300 ft above Lake Como. It is comparable to The Legend for its golf course beauty. Holes 16-18 represent a collection of some of the finest finishing holes we have seen.

The Trevino course had a mixed reception when it came on. We played it about six years ago and found it to be overly punitive, not an image you would expect from the Merry Mex. However, the course has been "friendlyized" and is now more of a treat than a torture.

Perhaps the best for last, the Gary Player course finally stretched out to its full 18 holes two years ago and it is magnificent. It is tight and requires some shot making, but it is really a lot of fun to play. The first hole is a challenge, and set the tone for the day. It heads toward the lake and you have a most interesting carry to the green. The 7th hole is memorable with its drop toward the lake in the background of interesting grasses.

1221 Geneva National S.
Lake Geneva, WI 53d147
414.245- 7010

Grand Geneva Resort and Spa
Grand Geneva Resort and Spa, was once owned by Hugh Hefner and represented the flagship of his Playboy Bunny Clubs. The club had fallen on some hard times, after the Hefner's empire started to unravel. However, it is in the process of a getting an entire makeover since the Markus Company bought it a few years ago.

The first stage saw the company reworks the guestrooms and the interior and the second phase concentrated on the courses and grounds. They began their mission by taming the famed Brute. They accomplished this by widening the fairways and opening up the greens.

The second course, The Briar Patch, was remodeled a couple of years ago. The Briar Patch, originally was a Nicklaus/Dye creation. It offered the golfer some demanding and at times penal golf. However, that has changed. Now called The Highlands, Robert Cupp renovated the course into a more gentle, enjoyable and superbly conditioned golf course. Director of Golf, Dave Hallenbeck, is ecstatic over how well the course renovations have turned out.

The resort has all the amenities you would expect at a full service resort. It is one of Wisconsin's best.

Dave Hallenbeck
7036 Grand Geneva Way
Lake Geneva, WI 53147

One of 27 holes at Kettle Hills GC

Kettle Hills
Kettle Hills Golf Course in Richfield will have a little more Kettle and a little more Hills, as they begin to bring on yet another nine holes at their 36-hole layout. The original course, The Ponds and Woods was joined by the Valley course a few years ago and later this year, they will open the new Kettle Hills Rolling Nine.

Kettle Hills is a little easier on the pocketbook than the other places we have mentioned, but it offers a great golf value Troy Schmidt and Michele Fleszar are the people that you will likely come in contact with. They have been there since the golf complex was 18 holes. Bob Bellfield, the superintendent has been there since 1988. It is a very stable organization that will flat out give you great service. Ruby Zimmerman, the owner, wants everybody to check out their new website.


Timberstone-Honorary Wisconsin GC
I was wandering through a Wisconsin Golf Guide and what should I see but Timberstone. I wondered when that was annexed. During this trip I was asking a number of Wisconsin golfers what some of their favorite Wisconsin golf courses were and up popped the name, Timberstone. I don't blame them. Timberstone, located just a short distance from the Michigan-Wisconsin border gets most of its market >from Wisconsin and Chicago. Susie Fox from Timberstone has been cultivating that market for years.


Nov./Dec. 2001 Issue Table of Content
HomePage | Courses & Resorts | Course Reviews | Golf Architects | Golf Business | Destinations
Golf Travel | Lodging | Golf Guides | Michigan Golf History | Tournaments | Michigan Golf Real Estate
Golf Academies & Schools | Warm Weather & Out of State Golf | Calendar of Events

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