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Best Golf Courses in Wisconsin

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Wisconsin is one of those places where playing golf is quite easy. It comes with countless courses, public and private, expensive and cheap, forgiving and more challenging; all spread throughout the different parts of the state.

In this list we name our top ten of courses opened to the public, which have nothing to envy the private ones. Wisconsin is well known by its golfing tradition, and it pays respect to this saying by having some greatly maintained tracks, some of them with ridiculous rates.

Let’s check them out!

Best Golf Courses in Wisconsin

Rating: 5.0/5.0

Located in the city of Haven, a coastal city a 100 kilometres to the north of Milwaukee, Whistling Straits counts with two courses, The Straits and The Irish, and it is by far the best golf facility of all Wisconsin. Pete Dye designed both of them, in a job that he describes as “once in a lifetime thing”. From both courses, we stay with the Straits, the one which plays along the coastline of Lake Michigan. The green fees seem to confirm it: while playing The Irish costs around $180, the Straits course doubles the price, having to pay around $385 if you want to experience this incredible seaside track.

Even although the high rate, this course absolutely deserves it: an exceptional links course with rugged terrain and panoramic views of the huge ocean lake, which will take you directly to the Scottish origins of golf. Proof of this are the tournaments that have been played here, such as some PGA Championships and a US Senior Open; and the ones that will – in 2020, the Ryder Cup will be played here. Not bad, uh?

Best holes for us, the 7th and the 18th. The former is a par 3 called “The Shipwreck”, which will give you a lead of what to expect: a tiny green protected by sand bunkers and the lake, which will test even the most skilled players. The latter is one of the best finishing holes ever, funnily called “Dyeabolical”: a tricky par 4 where scoring a par will be an astonishing good result.

The course also counts with a huge old rustic clubhouse, a complete pro shop, and a restaurant with some British influence.

Rating: 4.9/5.0

Blackwolf Run, as Whistling Straits, also belongs to the Kohler Company, although they are separated around 16 kilometres from one another. This facility is placed in the city of Kohler, more inland and with more woodlands. It takes its name from Black Wolf, one leader of the Winnebago Indians, or Ho Chunk, in the XIX century.

Blackwolf also counts with two courses, The River and The Meadows Valley, and the designer of both of them is also the same one as Whistling Straits: the renowned architect Pete Dye.

Opened in 1988, its best course is The River. The great things about this course are the absolute natural beauty of the surroundings, with no houses close to it, and the perfect course conditions.

The 9th hole is clearly the signature one. Named “The Cathedral Spires”, this short par 4 is played along the Sheboygan River and has different options depending on the risk you want to take. A sloping green completes the challenge, in a hole where scoring a par is quite a success.

This course also counts with another dramatic par 4 finishing hole, called “Dyehard”. It is a sure thing that Pete Dye enjoys greatly with this things!

Rating: 4.9/5.0

This course, although having opened in 2006, has already been host of some important events, such as the US Amateur in 2011 and the Us Open in 2017.

Located in Erin, a small town close to Milwaukee, it was designed by Robert Lang. This course has the advantage of being one of the most natural layouts of the United States, due to its glacial origin, its terrain didn’t need to be moved in a big way.

Erin Hills counts with numerous interesting holes, most of them because of its trickiness. The 8th has a dogleg to the right and a sloping fairway, with an elevated green protected by three bunkers. Another great hole is the 9th, and also the most controversial. This par 3 plays from an elevated tee box to a small green surrounded by seven bunkers. An absolute precision hole which can be very punishing if not treated carefully.

The course also has some great practice facilities, including a driving range, a putting green, a short game area with lots of variety and two practice bunkers in order to warm up before your round.

Rates at Erin Hills are expensive, around $300 per round. But playing here is something that you will remember for sure, so if you don’t have a tight budget, this course is worth every penny.

Rating: 4.8/5.0

The fourth position in the ranking goes for the second course of Whistling Straits, The Irish. Although this course doesn’t count with the advantage of the shoreline of the Lake Michigan as The Straits, Pete Dye did a great job designing an inland track that plays along dunes, streams and grasslands. The Irish has its own unique character, and a beauty that has nothing to envy its older sister.

This is a great option if you want to experience a true links feel in a privileged place, while paying much less than the Straits course (around $180). There are various holes here where you can enjoy breath-taking views of the lake, such as the 2nd, the 8th, the 11th, the 12th and the 13th. Our favourite, the par 3 13th, called “The Blind Man’s Bluff”: a blind tee shot to an undulating green, the biggest of the whole course.

The services are the same as in The Straits: the possibility of caddie or forecaddies, golf carts (although walking is highly recommended), a clubhouse with locker rooms and a complete practice facility.

Rating: 4.7/5.0

Located in the farmlands of the heart of Wisconsin, Lawsonia presents itself as one of the best value courses of all the United States. For approximately $30 you can experience a perfect maintained golf course in the middle of nowhere, with the Green Lake as background and the peace and tranquillity of the countryside.

Designed in 1930 by William B. Langford, Lawsonia counts also with two 18-hole tracks: the Links and the Woodlands, both of them great and worth the visit. If we have to pick one, we will go with the Links, due to the always appealing views of the lake. Its more than 90 bunkers, elevation changes, undulating terrain and fast and rolling greens make this course a great challenge, especially when the wind is blowing hard.

The signature hole here is the 7th, named “the Boxcar Hole”: a short par 3 with an elevated tee and a dramatic fall-off green that will test your abilities to the fullest.

The only drawbacks here are the limited extra services: the practice facilities are a bit small, and there is no GPS in the carts.  However, if what you are looking for is great golf conditions for a really cheap price, this by far is the best choice in all the state of Wisconsin.

Rating: 4.5/5.0

We go back to the city of Kohler to check the second course of Blackwolf, Meadow Valley. Although ranked below its sister The River, Meadow Valleys counts with a back nine really impressive and memorable, contrasting with a front nine a bit weaker.

These last nine holes play along some glacial valleys full of trees and ridges, with some infinite views from some of the elevated tee boxes, such as the one from the 11th and the 12th hole.

The 14th, “Nature Course”, is our favourite one: a beautiful par 4 where you can see the river on the right of the tee box, and some railway ties, a clear signature of Pete Dye’s design. The finishing hole, called “Salmon Trap”, is pretty great as well, with the Sheboygan River in front of the green and the clubhouse looking upon you.

Rating: 4.4/5.0

This course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. located only 15 minutes from the University of Wisconsin, in Verona, a suburb of Madison.

The attractiveness of this track comes from a really well kept greens and fairways, the elevation changes and the great value for the money you will pay: for $60 you can play all the golf you want, with a golf cart and range included, have lunch and $5 to spend in the clubhouse, an offer hard to find in any other golf course.

The course itself has some fantastic holes that mix variety, trickiness and beauty. Let’s name some of them: the 5th, for example, is a great par 3 with lots of sand bunkers protecting the green and colourful trees as decoration. The following 6th is a fun par 5 over a river with different options and challenges, such as the almost unavoidable sand traps around the green. The also par 5 15th is stunning as well: an elevated tee that shows two different fairways to choose, a second shot over eleven bunkers (yes, eleven) and a sloping green will be an absolute challenging and fun hole.

In a nutshell, a great golf course that will not disappoint in any way.

Rating: 4.4/5.0

Jack Nicklaus designed this magnificent course located in the city of Sheboygan Falls, which opened in 2003. The course is in great shape, with consistent and quick greens and well-groomed fairways, however, it is not cheap, costing around $150 the round. 

While starting a bit weak, with some forgettable first four holes, the course level goes up from the fifth one, when starting to enter the forest. Here resides its true beauty, especially if played in early fall, with some stunning colour variations on the trees.

The best par 4 is the 5th, with a dramatic tee shot with deep forest and a gulch, where the fairway is the only safe place. The following 6th hole is the best par 3 of the course, playing over a ravine and surrounded by woods, getting to a well-protected green full of bunkers.

This course also counts with practice facilities, with a nice driving range, short game area and bunkers, and a nice putting green. The clubhouse counts with a decent bar and restaurant, and a pro shop not to big but with great brands and accessories.  

Rating: 4.3/5.0

This time we go to the north of Wisconsin, to find the little city of Hayward, where we can find the Big Fish Golf Club. The club course was designed in 2004 by architects Pete Dye and Tim Liddy, and counts with two completely different sets of nine holes: the front nine with a links style, treeless, and a back nine more woodland-styled, full of trees decorating each hole.

The 7th is the signature hole of the track, a challenging par 5 with water in the left side and sand bunkers, where creativity is mandatory to survive.

Big Fish has some ridiculous green fees, which range from $24 to $40 if you want to rent a cart for the round. A great option if you want some nice golfing without having to spend too much!

Rating: 4.1/5.0

The last course of the list is SentryWorld, a hidden gem located in the city of Stevens Point, in the middle of Wisconsin. Do not let the name mislead you (it is named after an insurance company), this course will leave you speechless because of its beauty. 

Originally designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. in 1982, it went through a renovation in 2014 by Trent Jones himself, Bruce Charlton and Jay Blasi, which resulted in a massive success.

While having multiple and challenging fun holes (check out the 5th, a dramatic par 5 with a lake that will make you think carefully every shot), the clear signature one is the par 3 16th, called “The Flower Hole”: more than 33.000 coloured flowers decorate this paradisiac hole, which is as beautiful as challenging, with four strategic bunkers around the green.

Rates here are not cheap, but also not too expensive: green fees oscillate between $85 and $130 depending on the season.

Wrap up

We can say that in Wisconsin you can find the perfect golf course, no matter your skills, budget or preference. But apart from these ten, there are surely many more worth to mention, so, depending on where you are staying, make sure of doing some research and you will make the right choice.

Have fun and… game on!


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