Fall in for golf
October is an ideal month for golf in Wisconsin, especially southern Wisconsin. Most of the bugs and humidity are gone and temperatures are, for the most part, comfortable. There may be some nasty days, but this is the best time to tee it high and let it fly.
Many courses have fall discounts and, for the most part, aren’t as crowded. The downside is that many clubs aerate their greens during this time, so check beforehand.
Here are a few must-play courses:
Brown Deer: A former stop on the PGA tour’s regular season schedule, Brown Deer, built in 1929 and owned by Milwaukee County, is always stunning and conditions are impeccable with fast and true greens. Hundreds of mature, towering trees line every bent-grass fairway. It has some of the toughest par 4s in the region and I always look forward to #18 – a par 5 – no matter how I’ve played the other 17.
You also might want to play Whitnall, which I like to think of as a smaller Brown Deer, and Oakwood, the longest of Milwaukee County-owned courses. Both are well-maintained and reasonably priced. milwaukeecountygolfcourses.com
Washington County: This Arthur Hills course (bent grass tee to green, and meticulously maintained) ranks 31st nationally among municipal courses, according to Golfweek Magazine. Sitting high above Pike Lake State Park and the northern Kettle Moraine, it’s a stunning vista as you stand at the clubhouse and look toward the spires of Holy Hill.
I’ll never forget the one early Sunday morning in October when I arrived at Washington County to see the rising sun burning through a light fog and colorful hot air balloons rising into the mist along the course’s perimeter. golfwcgc.com
Mee-Kwon and Hawthorne Hills: Both are owned by Ozaukee County, and both can’t be beaten for their excellent conditions, especially Mee-Kwon. These courses make golf fun to play, but don’t think they’re pushovers.
You won’t find a better finishing hole than Mee-Kwon’s #9, a par 4 that demands two accurate shots. Then there are #s 10 and 14 at Hawthorne, both par 4s that require you hit the fairway with your tee shots. ozaukeecountgolf.com
Petrifying Springs: Built in 1936 in a park-like setting, this course could be considered the gem of southeastern Wisconsin. It’s short (6,000 yards from the tips), but it’s exciting to play. There isn’t a flat hole in the bunch and #18 is one of the most challenging finishing holes anywhere, a long uphill par 4 over or around water with a green that slopes severely from back to front. The owner, Kenosha County, takes great pride in this course and the conditions prove it.
Nagawaukee: A wonderful tree-lined parkland setting owned by Waukesha County, the back nine of this muni overlooks Pewaukee Lake and has enough ups and downs to rival any roller coaster. The par 5, #14 tee looks down a winding tree-
lined fairway that appears to lead right into the lake. The course is known for having the region’s largest greens (average size 9,000 sq. ft.), which also are extremely undulating.
Morningstar: Carved out of an old quarry, this course sits high so the view is awesome, particularly from the clubhouse and the tees of 1, 4, 7, 13, 14, 17 and 18. It’s a gorgeous track and one of the best challenges in the area. golfthestar.com
The Bull at Pinehurst Farms: There are enough trees, streams and ponds, and elevation changes at this spectacular and extremely challenging Jack Nicklaus Signature course in the northern Kettle Moraine area to make you marvel at Mother Nature. It’s less expensive and just as memorable as any of the four nearby Pete Dye courses owned by Kohler. golfthebull.com
Erin Hills: Very little earth was moved (by man) to build this huge brute highlighted by rolling hills and fescue meadows interrupted by a few trees. Next year’s US Open will be played here. Because the only structures visible are the Irish manor-style clubhouse and the spires of the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill, Erin Hills makes you feel you one with nature. Strong legs are suggested because this course is a monster. Caddies only. erinhills.com
The Bog: An Arnold Palmer design impeccably manicured that includes wetlands, woods, and a wildlife habitat. golfthebog.com
Brighton Dale Links: 45 challenging holes in the midst of the bucolic Bong State Recreational Area. golfbrightondale.com
Broadlands: Not particularly scenic, but a fine, well-maintained bent-grass layout that will challenge your complete game. broadlandsgolfclub.com
Fire Ridge: Wonderful track without a weak hole in the bunch and superb conditions. fireridgegc.com
Ironwood: 27 testy holes with undulating greens and some of the toughest rough anywhere. Lots of trees, wetlands, and rolling hills make this a fall favorite. ironwoodgolfcourse.com
Kettle Hills: Interesting and challenging layout among rolling hills covered in trees. kettlehills.com
Rock River Hills: Short, but tricky layout that sits aside the world-famous water fowl-inhabited Horicon Marsh.
Windwood of Watertown: It isn’t a long course, only about 6,200 yards from the tips, but it’s still a handful, starting with small, true greens with lots of slope. windwoodofwatertown.com
By JERRY SLASKE
KEY Milwaukee Golf Editor