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golf guide

University Ridge ‘majors’ in great golf


The University of Wisconsin in Madison is considered by many to be one of the nation’s finest schools of higher education. Because of its University Ridge Golf Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., and opened in 1991, it’s also thought to be one of the nation’s better schools of driver education.

The course sits high overlooking the city on the moraine created by the last Wisconsin glacier. It gets its name from the ridge that divides the landscape into rolling hills and valleys. Since it’s owned by the university, the course is appropriately suited for the thinking golfer…the shot maker.

You don’t have to be especially long at University Ridge (unless you play from the back tees which measure almost 7,300 yards), but you must be accurate, particularly off the tee.

Straying from the bent grass fairways probably will not only result in an awkward stance because many of the fairways are raised, but the ball tends to settle at the bottom of the dense and wiry, but not overly long rough. And the bunkers, of which there are many – 16 alone on the signature 16th hole, a 554-yard, par 5 – are deep and penal.

University Ridge is a tale of two nines. The front nine with three par 3s and three par 5s has somewhat of a links look, running through a preserved prairie and marshland, while the back – at least the first six holes – winds through thick stands of trees.

Overall, the course has a roller-coaster feel with twists and turns and significant elevation changes. The 18th, a par 4, 413 yard dogleg left, rises 182 feet from tee to green. The five par 3s are downhill – #s 8 and 12 dramatically so – over marshland, water, or a culvert.

Except at #7, a 429 yard, par 4 uphill dogleg left, the greens are fairly tame, but with subtle breaks. All of them, however, are well bunkered.

The day I played it was cold, windy, with low clouds and spotty rain. It felt like fall even though it was the middle of July. But that didn’t matter. Every day is a great day at University Ridge, a course that tests all facets of your game, and another reason Wisconsin is becoming an international golf destination.

At $50 to walk ($69 to ride) before 9 a.m. on weekdays, you will be hard pressed to find this kind of quality and service anywhere else. For additional information on the course, visit

Blackstone Creek in Germantown

Often overlooked Blackstone Creek Golf Club in Germantown ( should be put on your golf course “bucket” list.

It’s a challenging layout with well-maintained fairways and the greens are some of the smoothest and truest in the region. With a weekday walking rate of $22 ($15 for “boomers” over 50!), it’s tough to beat.

Don’t let past perceptions keep you away. Rumors have been swirling for years, and they still are, that the course will close. Should Blackstone Creek be bulldozed, the Milwaukee metro area will lose a convenient and fine test of golf.

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