The editors at Wisconsin.Golf asked me to pick my five favorite golf holes in Wisconsin. Of course, I couldn’t stop at just five. I managed to whittle my list to nine and could have kept going. Cyberspace is infinite, after all, but not so the attention span of readers.
I limited the candidates to holes on public-access golf courses. With apologies to all the great holes that didn’t make the cut, here are my nine favorites (in no certain order):
Grant Park, No. 12, par 4: The drive must be long and down the left side, or you’ve got no chance to hit the green, which is partially obscured by trees and must have been shaped by someone who was hung over. Make par, and you’ve gained 1½ strokes on the field.
Lawsonia Links, No. 6, par 4: The boxcar green on the par-3 seventh gets all the hype, but the preceding hole is a Langford-Moreau gem. The downhill tee shot over a diagonal cross bunker is followed by an approach to an elevated green with a false front and severe falloffs on all sides.
The Bog, No. 12, par 4: It’s just a 3-wood off the tee and an 80-yard approach for most players, but the second shot must carry a boulder-strewn creek, and the green is shallow and slick. Even Arnold Palmer chunked a couple balls into the rocks when he played it during the grand opening in ‘95.
Erin Hills, No. 9, par 3: The dramatic tee shot is straight downhill to a green surrounded by jagged bunkers and deep fescue rough. When the wind blows, which is almost always, it’s hit and hope with a short iron. It’s the rare 140-yard hole that can be a scorecard-wrecker.
The Bull, No. 5, par 4: The fairway wraps around a ravine on the left, but there’s no place to bail out because the right side is lined with trees. The nervy approach requires a mid-iron over the corner of the ravine. In the fall, there is no prettier hole in Wisconsin.
The Club at Lac La Belle, No. 4, par 3: Craig Haltom outdid himself when he designed No. 4, one of four new holes on the renovated 125-year-old course. The massive, amoeba-shaped green has all sorts of spills and thrills, with a “hole-in-one” pin placement in a back-right punchbowl.
Wild Rock, No. 2, par 4: Bite off as much as you dare on this dogleg right over a deep ravine. Bail out left and the second shot is well over 200 yards. Overcook a fade off the tee and you’re in the trees. Play this hole once and you’ll never forget it.
Naga-Waukee War Memorial Golf Course, No. 10, par 4: A mind-blowing par-4 that bends sharply right, with the massive, tilted green some 50 feet below the plateau landing area. Miss your drive or your approach and you’re working to save bogey. Miss both and say hello to Mr. Snowman.
Whistling Straits, No. 10, par 4: The tee shot on the dogleg left must carry a mini-canyon. Too far left and it’s a lost ball. Miss it right and the approach to the shelf green becomes exponentially more difficult by the yard. Hit it straight and you’re in a pot bunker that the late Pete Dye, in his wisdom, placed in the middle of the fairway. Love this hole. Hate it, too.